Measured Architecture marries a deep respect for the craft of building to new technologies, earning it’s position as a top firm in Canada and interpreter of contemporary living. This equation has created a growing client list – and a series of meaningful builds, both beautiful and packed with architectural advances, that are pleasing both the critics and users. Principle Clinton Cuddington (left – shown above with his business partner Piers Cunnington) joined us for a conversation last year, and gave us some insight on how his firms works.

What was the spark to start your architectural firm – and what are you offering that is unique? The spark to start an architectural firm was the desire to self-author. We are offering to create circumstances where we could have a full engagement with our clients, design team and the builders which was often unavailable when working with a firm for another employer. What offer collaborative experience where the outcome is far greater than the sum of the individuals.

Making buildings and spaces is such a team process, what tips to you have for integrating and inspiring the people you work with? We begin every design with a gathering of all those invested. We clearly outline what is import to the client and what is to be protected and once that is defined and understood by all, the team works together to build trust and relationship not only with the client but between team members. And once that trust has been established, we often find clients who will grant us the license to pursue something that is of interest to the team.

Do you think there has been an evolution from your initial work to where your practice is now? What lessons can you share about that evolution? Our evolution has primarily emerged in the development of the trust relationship that we speak of. We work very hard to protect the creative process in balance with the contractual parameters of the project as a boutique firm. One must remain mindful of how the creative process can be sustained financially.
Our evolution has been in the development of an elegant process that is clear what our roles and responsibilities are and the cost associated with that without undermining the spirit of the creative exploration.

Talking about risks, what has been your biggest risk, professionally or on a project? Our biggest risk is overextending ourselves creatively which in a manner the client can’t afford. As we develop a strong palette of technical responses to problems, our confidence in solving problems have limited our risk as we explore modulations of design outcomes. We push the creative envelope in a manner that is built upon tried and true building practices.

How do you describe your “situational modernism” style. Is style important to how clients react or want your work…the reason they hire you? We don’t feel that our projects are in a specific style identifiable to our firm. All of our projects emerge out of specific client needs that we work hard to unearth. Our process is to edit, distill and curate those needs sets independents of our needs set which ultimately leads to a design that is specific and inclusive. Process is far more important to our clients than a stylistic comparative. We work hard to educate the client of the importance of not beginning finished. Style is an outcome and not a requirement.

Which has been your best design experience so far, something that you felt ‘nailed it’, and why? Our best design experience has been a client relationship where they feel buttressed and supported through the entirety of the project from conceptual design through to the landing of the art on the walls of the project. From the perspective of the building team, our collaborative experience with artisans who work with us to land industrial design in the walls rather than on the walls of our buildings has been incredibly rewarding, specifically with our work with “Dear Human” on the Rough House has been exemplary. It is there where they were able to utilize all tile moments as muralling in a public art manner.

Knowing that creating ecofriendly and sustainable architecture is sometimes expensive, how do you inspire clients to go there? By providing them environmental options as choices that are equivalent to the cost of non-sustainable solutions. Before we move to land propellers and panels on our buildings as added complexities to the requirements of the architecture, we dig deeper to find a series of solutions that are non-toxic of the essential ingredients of the building.

Your firm has won a lot of awards in Vancouver, is being local important to you, and do you have global desire? We do not have a global desire. We are currently inundated with a series of a local regional problem set which have us fully engaged.

Did any past architectural thinking influence your practice? Does the past hold back contemporary arch? Are clients stuck in the past when thinking of how they want to live today? We urge all dialogues of the creative process to move into a lineage of design exploration. Our goal is always to draw critical lessons from the past thought time and work to exercise any element which could be viewed as nostalgic. When we involve our client in that discussion, we are often able to avoid aspects of design which are irrelevant and stifling. A modern approach simply follows.

Which do you think are the keys a successful project, and how do you influence young creative architects to expand the ideas that you have developed? The primary key to a successful project is to remain true to the primary need set of the user and not to drift to a compromised average of an eventual speculative user. If one designs for as a mean need rather than a specific need, a project runs a risk of being diluted and serving all poorly. As an example, we find that a family who wishes to design a name for themselves vs a home for re-sale, to be a game changer where the building left has no voice in the lineage of good design. If our only legacy of a firm is the continuance of an inclusive collaborative process, partnered with strong communication and clear responsibility sets, we will be satisfied.

Some of Clint’s favourites:

1966 Karmann Ghia type 34 because it was our first family car and one that I rode in the back between Regina, Saskatchewan to Dallas, Texas annually as a child.

Casa Del Fascio because while it is a contentious building as the fascist headquarter of Mussolini, it’s the project that simultaneously reminds architects of the importance of distilling a sensual design moves from the politics of a user and is the greatest example of public domain appropriation in the history of architecture. Mussolini charged the architect with the task of creating a building that appropriated the forecourt of a church across the plaza of the building and utilized that space as a place of gathering where people that listened to Mussolini speak while turning their backs to the church. In the right hands, such an approach could alter the way in which we use our cities.

Gin and tonic because it never forgets what it wants to do just like a buttonhole.

Concrete, as it owns you in its outcome.

Ray and Charles Eames lounge chair wood (LCW) because it used technology for molding plywood for leg splints in the Second World War.

Berlin because it’s a city that artists can afford to live in.

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