Each quarter Axolotl puts a series of questions to an industry 'luminary' to get an insight into both their talent and their feel for the future. This issue we introduce Ed Lippmann from Lippmann Associates. This Sydney based design firm recently completed the Boy Charlton Pool in the Domain and has won numerous RAIA awards over the years.
What keeps you inspired?
I'm always hankering for change, never content to keep doing the same thing again and again. So fresh ideas are really crucial. I just look at my children and their spontaneity, that's what real creativity is all about.
What project do you consider to be your greatest achievement so far?
Every project tends to build on what came before and generally there's a kind of evolution occurring. So, its
difficult to say greatest. I always look forward to the next and newest challenges and achievements.
Have you ever refused to comply with a client request or design? If so, why?
In the early days I did that all the time. I was very keen to prove myself and often client's expectations were very different to what I had in mind. But good dialogue and communication was very important because even though, initially, there may be a sense that the architect is not listening, maybe, just maybe there's a better idea out there. Nowadays, clients come to expect that of me.
Are there any architects whose work encapsulates your own ideals?
There are many architects whose work I admire but Buckminster Fuller comes to mind, although not an architect, by training. But he was really a great visionary and his view of the world had such a profound influence on his designs. Houses that moved, three wheeled cars, geodesic domes to improve and protect the quality of the environment. He was an inventor, actually. I think architects should strive to be far more lateral than they sometimes become.
Did/do you have a mentor?
There are many architects whose work has influenced me both locally and internationally. But I guess special pride and place must go to one's formative influences. I went to New York when I was 21 offering my services at Marcel Breuer's office, the great Bauhaus master. I couldn't really call Breuer a mentor as he was very old and barely active any more, but just being in his orbit was an overwhelming experience and I will always remember those days with great fondness.
Which Australian building excites you the most?
I know this is going to sound very cliche but the Sydney Opera House, of course. Let's face it there isn't anything else like it in Sydney, the world for that matter. What a spectacular site and what a great contribution to it.
What do you see as key trends over the next couple of years in domestic or commercial design?
We will see a far greater emphasis on environmental considerations than in the past. Buildings which "breathe" rather than being hermetically sealed boxes, where the outside environment can become part of the interior. Light, air, that special ambience which comes with the sense of connection with the forces of nature. It's what Feng Shui was all about. The even more ancient Vedic science of Sthapatya Veda was even more switched onto that balance with nature.
Which trend in architecture or design are you totally over?
That's a good question. I'd have to say Victoria or Federation style designs. They may have had relevance in
their day but they are so inappropriate in the twenty first century. Thank goodness the local councils are starting to give up on them!
Do you see a lot of development in Sydney over the next year or so?
There doesn't appear to be any major fluctuations either more or less but my work has changed significantly. I've just had a spell of designing many swimming pools and sporting complexes, some quite well known and much loved. The current workload tends to be heading into more public work, office developments and, of course still much housing. I'm looking forward to the year ahead.