A renewal of vows.
Thank you to Ingrid for the amazing Welcome to Country, I too pay my deep respects to the owners of this land, the sovereign Nyungar nations, and the Whadjuk people, and thank them for the gracious hospitality on this country.
Whadjuk Nyungar have managed this coast for tens of thousands of years, caring for country through cultural ceremonies such as song, dance and use of fire. We feel privileged to work on such country, and honour the ongoing legacy of the Nyungar nation to our shared future.
Many thanks to you, Cameron for coming to support us in the launch of our new adventure and for supporting us in your previous role as Editor In Chief of the Architecture Media. We feel so grateful that you would come all this way to see us on this new journey.
So, I thought I might say a few things about TheFulcrum.Agency …
We are made up of many of the band members from CODA and come from more than two decades in practice – and we also have a couple of new players in the line-up.
We continue to work with:
Nick Juniper as Associate Principal
Emma Brain as Head of Communications
Heather MacRae as a newly minted Associate
Sarah Besly as long-standing Associate
Akira Monaghan, Architect
We have worked together with these fabulous people for between five and 10 years and they have all been instrumental to us pushing forward bravely into uncharted waters – and helping us pivot when we realised the seas were too rough.
And we have some new band members:
Brad Wetherall, Graduate Architect
Claire White, Architect, and, most recently been joined by
Michael Gay as a Senior Architect
Despite the seemingly unsettling naming of our practice as an agency, I can confirm we are still architects.
But before I go forward and too far down the line of saying who we are I want to go back a couple of steps because a lot has happened to us over the last few years on the work front …
A few years ago, Kieran and I started to talk often about our mid-life crisis.
Being a year older I started mine first. I was hit by the fact that I was fast approaching the mid-point of my working life and I didn’t want to fall into the second half without giving it some serious consideration.
I was relieved when Kieran started his own mid-life crisis and joined me in this angsty and tormenting journey as we took a long hard look at what we had achieved, what we wanted to achieve, where we felt our passions lay and what we thought we were good at.
As mid-life crisis go, I actually think it went quite well. We bought a vintage car to restore and decided to celebrate the achievements of our work in a big 20-year anniversary party for CODA.
Although Kieran and I co-founded CODA we came to feel more like custodians of it and in order to continue its growth trajectory we decided that we needed to find a partner, so we hit the dating scene.
After testing the water for a bit, we jumped into bed with one practice and decided to get hitched … And then in no time at all we got divorced!!! ... All the while remaining actually married to one another (another positive outcome at the end of the mid-life crisis).
The chance to recast ourselves anew has been liberating to say the least. We have had a deep cleanse. If anyone has read or seen Marie Kondo we have sought to spark joy, consolidating the things that we feel passionate about into this new practice. It has been a unique opportunity to consider what we want our next half of working lives, and our practice to look like.
At CODA we used to talk about being useful, being generous, being joyful and being stealthy. Our practice was driven by these tactics, and underpinned by values around social justice, equity, inclusion and progressive approaches to our profession. These values remain constant, and have helped to propel us forward, and framed our decisions.
These values have reminded us of our appetite for information and knowledge, our deep interest in other people’s stories and our desire to use architectural design thinking to unpack problems, and to expand them in order to find solutions that meets the aspirations and needs of the communities we serve.
Our new practice has given us the rare and privileged opportunity to recast the way we want to live our work-life, to be agile and engaged as a smaller, nimbler, expert and enquiring collective.
So, if we continue to consider these practice moves as milestones in our relationship status tonight is surely a renewal of our vows – and an opportunity to make a declaration in front of you all about our hopes for our future and to reaffirm our values and our love of the importance of design thinking.
Like any wedding our audience is made up of people who are very special to us.
You are the village of family, of friends, of colleagues, peers, clients and collaborators who have helped to support and shape us over the years. We would like to thank you all for your support of us and your collective intellect and wisdom that has helped to spur us on.
So here we go:
We will work using a clear lens of social justice, to seek balance between the inevitable tensions of the contemporary world, and our ancient past.
We will maintain our values of generosity, usefulness, joyfulness and stealth
We will collaborate openly and genuinely, within our practice, with other practices, with our clients and our peers. We do this because we believe in the powerful and potent outcomes that can be achieved when we meet challenges with an open mind and open heart.
We will look for ways of being generous in the way we work together, with others and for others. We look for ways of finding generosity in all of our projects and ensuring that they serve the communities in which they are located.
We will continue to work for equity in the profession, to seek new models of practice, and be open to change and renewal.
We will work hard to ensure the work we do is enjoyable, by ourselves, the people working on it and the people for whom it is intended.
We will seek out people’s stories, celebrating diversity and adjacency, and always striving to serve with impact and purpose the wide range of communities who choose to work with us
Before I wrap up there is one final thing and another important dimension to this launch.. (and another quick story!)
Before we had even come up with a name for our new venture, or Kieran had had a chance to try his hand at prototyping business cards … we called on our dear friends Mark and Tanya who have been leading the way at Block Branding.
They are responsible for our branding but also (and critically) for helping us to filter through our sometimes tangential threads around what we want to be to help us arrive at the idea of publishing a journal.
Having worked on our first ‘smoke and mirrors’ campaign 15 years ago when we had no real built work to speak of to this new practice identity has been a fantastic journey and a relief to have some content to contribute! They are true collaborators and we really cannot thank them enough.
In a very short space of time along with Mark and Tanya, and Emma Brain we have worked to pull together this first edition of our biannual journal in which we ponder – and ask other to ponder – the idea of the word PIVOT. This means different things to different people as you will see.
I can say quite truthfully, that making a big career change and moving to the outer limits of your comfort zone at a time when you have competing responsibilities (children / mortgage / aging parents) is not for the faint hearted. I must say, however, that I have found the experience strangely refreshing.
This has certainly been our very big pivot.
The journal has reminded us and made us very grateful to the support of our community. We came late to a very clear idea of exploring a single word with each issue. At VERY short notice and without hesitation all of the contributors agreed to be part of this and trusted that we would deliver on our promise of producing something that we can all be proud of. I would like to thank them all for their efforts but also for giving me the sense that you trust us to deliver on our passion to bring people together.
We are looking forward to unpacking and sharing more words and more stories in coming issues.
We hope you enjoy the first issue.