InterVIEW – Peter Searle

Peter Searle is an award winning building designer who specialises in residential building design of all types, including new homes, town house developments, large alterations and additions in city, suburban and heritage conservation settings. Peter approaches each new project with an individual response to make the most of the project brief, the site attributes and orientation, maximising the sense of space and connection to the landscape. He is committed to providing design excellence, based on responsible and creative resource allocation, underpinned by sustainable passive design principles.

What is/are your favorite project/s that you have worked on, and why?

My favourite project was the Fitzroy Townhouses in inner city Melbourne.

Numerous challenges arose during this project which really kept me on my toes.

Namely the size of the land to fit two townhouses plus a pool, the heritage overlay, height and shadow constraints and making sure both properties were sound proof from urban noise. This project was prior to the launch of my business so I was mindful to set a benchmark for all future projects.

Another favourite is a futuristic design, not yet built. I feature this on my website as “Design Dreamer” and it is a stylish and impactful home with an environmental conscience. A top ten finalist in the James Hardie Dream Designer Awards.

To date, my biggest business/design challenge has been?

My biggest on-going challenge is when prospective clients become aware, I am profoundly deaf. I usually take an interpreter to my first client meeting, however once they realise my skills lie in my design and drawings, the hearing aspect no longer remains such an issue. I would like this understanding to carry across not just clients, but also to developers.

One challenge is meeting clients’ expectations, particularly when the brief is for a huge house on a tiny piece of land! Sometimes explaining Town Planning regulations to clients is not so easy.

My favorite finish is?

Natural stone, timber cladding and sleek metals for a contemporary feel.

The architectural style of the home I grew up in?

I went to boarding school in coastal Portsea, Victoria as a young boy. The old building, Delgany was built in the 1900’s and was reminiscent of a limestone castle. This is probably why I love the use of stone today.

Our family also lived in a contemporary home overlooking the wild cliffs of Port Philip Bay. This is where my preferred use of timber cladding comes from. Another family home was Georgian style – I don’t think that one influenced my work in any way though!

I joined Design Matters because?

You may or may not be aware I am profoundly deaf, which in its way does limit me in social circles. I need to rely on keeping up-to-date with a network and staying connected with other members in the industry.

I find the fellowship and support within Design Matters is gratifying and I look forward to updates and shared information.

My favorite Australian building is?

During my time working for Bates Smart Architects, I was involved in the refurbishments for 101 Collins Street and the Old Treasury building, both iconic buildings and influenced by historic European designs. Glenn Murrcut was working with Bates Smart at the time and I was so interested to learn about his passion for true Australian designs, particularly Swinburne University in Lilydale and his rural country houses with their curved and spectacular high pitch rooflines.

My favorite international building is?

This would have to be the Palladian Villas of the Veneto in Italy. Extraordinary stunning mansions so historic, they are now considered World Heritage sites by UNESCO.

My words of wisdom for a student building designer are...

Work and study hard. Follow through with your passions and never stop learning. There is always something that surrounds us that can be interpreted architecturally. As long as you never lose this ability to keep learning and developing you will be fine.

When I was a child I wanted to be?

Of course, you won’t believe it, all my life I wanted to be a pilot! I love the shape of wings and the speed that comes from aeronautical design. Unfortunately being deaf shattered my dreams! At the age of 16 I became interested in architecture. Melbourne University offered me a placement but they were worried about my theory abilities (in those days there was no support by way of interpreters) so RMIT thereby offered me the chance to study Architectural Technology.

Outside of work, I am passionate about...

Renovating houses, supporting my young family, all sports and driving fast cars!

At the moment I am reading...

I am not a novel reader, but do enjoy design magazines and am interested in anything Formula one and Commercial Aircraft.

My life in 4 words?

Happiness, Respect, Knowledge and Contentment.

Peter Searle
Peter Searle