InterVIEW – Timothy Ellis

From Student Member to Full Member to Committee Member – meet Tim Ellis

Timothy Ellis runs Glow Design Group, an award-winning design firm that specialises in designing energy-efficient buildings that are functional and beautiful. They are passionate about design, and work hard to ensure their clients enjoy the journey and love the creation. Tim joined the BDAV in 2005 as a Student Member and, after a two-year break while studying part-time, he re-joined in October 2010. In March 2014, Tim joined the BDAV’s Committee of Management, and has been an active participant in everything he undertakes. We thought it timely to interview Tim, and caught up with him over the summer break while he was holidaying at Port Douglas.

Q: What is/are your favourite project/s that you have worked on, and why?
A: The main thing I like about the work I do is that I do varied design styles. In general, though, I prefer the freedom that comes with country designs. The first major country design I worked on was the 700 haus in Trentham and it was good as I learnt from other BDAV members in the way to push the design to use its site, environment and materials along with smaller details which increased liveability and reduced impact on the environment. It is a project which put me on the map with international interest and awards for this style of work and has led to many exciting future designs. Thanks to the BDAV members for sharing knowledge on sustainable design and how to design, as well as those members who supported me through meetings and CPD which were part of this project.

Q: To date, my biggest business/design challenge has been?
A: I did a restaurant in Werribee Plaza called Squires Loft (pictured) that I thought would be a nice quiet introduction to this type of work. I did not realise that the plaza was a huge centrepiece and 130 seat. I thought I would be dipping my toe in the water to see if I liked to design this type of venue. The design presented challenges, such as the possibility of an empty barn-like space void of people so the psychology needed to be looked at and I broke up the space into smaller sections. There was also the question of how to make an intimate loft-like space in a new massive cement shell opposite Myer. I ended up doing days which commenced at 4am and finished at 11pm. Two months of running things past design committees and other designers such as Studio Y and one month for build. It was amazing to see how fast a project could come together and it came up well, but very draining when running a business. In all, the space works very well, thanks also to the team and other design input.

Q: My favourite finish is?
A: Timber. Timber gives warmth and can have a texture that allows the eye to run over its joints; it also softens other materials. Timber as shiplap also as ‘tongue and groove’ appeal to me. I also love the weatherboard houses that fill my local area of Williamstown, Melbourne. They appeal from a historic perspective and the ability to paint in different colours.

Q: The architectural style of the home I grew up in?
A: It was a flat-roof modernist house designed by a building designer friend of the family, Ron Strickland, in Geelong. The house was designed to take in views over a river and valley towards the city. It was good to have an open family living and I particularly liked that it had a chute to the laundry, something I used to slide down with my sister and hide in when people were looking for me. I design chutes in double-storey houses where possible in my designs, as they are very handy. His son is also a building designer presently working in Geelong and a member.

Q: I joined the BDAV because?
A: I joined as a student for the knowledge. Great to network with others doing the type of work you do. I love the general notes, the meetings and catching up with other members offering support and advice. The office is very streamlined and organised, they are always good with advice.

Q: My favourite Australian building is?
A: Vibe Design Kew House 3. I love it for its design methodology and that Michael was able to share his approach to design with members of the BDAV through his involvement with lectures to inspire members.

It is great to see that building designers can produce such inspiring work, thinking about design. It was a huge event in the BDAV to have design as a focus of the organisation and to learn that the documentation, design and marketing was an important part of what we do.

I am also influenced by Glenn Murcutt – look up any of his country buildings and you will see why.

Q: My favourite international building is?
A: I cannot choose one. I love the Chrysler by William Van Alen. It really soars. The details and pure art deco are inspiring. Lloyd Wright Millard House La Miniatura is amazingly different and pushed the envelope using Mayan style texture block system. It has such a different and small but monolithic charm. Interesting that Lloyd Wright was mainly self-taught and pushed so hard with different designs and marketing.

Q: My words of wisdom for a student building designer are?
A: Keep studying; you have never learnt everything. Focus on marketing, yourself and your work.

Q: When I was a child I wanted to be?
A: An architect. Now I’m a building designer.

Q: Outside of work, I am passionate about?
A: Holidays.

Q: At the moment I am reading?
A: Sanctuary Sustainable Homes magazine by the pool in Far North Queensland.

Q: My life in four words?
A: Discover, Design, Travel, Family