While many architects do not bother, Albert Mo of Melbourne firm Architects EAT, sees creating physical models as a fundamental step in his design process.
“I love physical models,” says Albert. “We still build them for every residential house that we do in the office. With the model, I can kneel down, squint with one eye, and visualise and feel the space. And then we start designing.” A visual thinker through and through, Albert begins each project by imagining what his client will see, touch and smell when in their space. No design solutions are rushed and as a result, it often takes a couple of weeks before pen is put to paper, but for Albert, it is pivotal he has the feel right before he commits.
It is also this way of thinking that gives him a rather unique answer to what his favourite projects are: those that were never built! “The reason is because we can only dream of how good they can be,” explains Albert. “In our mind these projects keep on developing, kind of like an eternal design development. Projects like the Puzzle House, Slab House, Drummond Apartments, and more recently Surry Hills B&B and Cherry Hill Visitor Centre.”
Founded with his co-director Eid Goh 14 years ago, Architects EAT now has a team of 16. Popular recipients at design awards, this year alone they have been shortlisted for the Dulux Colour Awards for their Pabu Bar and shortlisted for the Australian Interior Design Awards, the Australian Institute of Architects Victorian Awards and the Houses Awards for their Three Parts House.
Yet it is not the awards that they are most proud of, it is the business itself and the fact that after all these years they’re still flourishing.
“We are still amazed year after year that we are still going,” says Albert. “At the beginning it was really all about trial and error and starting from scratch. The thing is when you start to work on real projects, you realise that you really know so little and that forces you to learn from the people around you: builders, tradesmen, engineers etc. For us we learned and absorbed things very quickly.”
Specialising in residential and hospitality, Albert spearheads a team concentrating on houses and multi-residential apartments, while Eid leads a team focusing on hospitality and shopping malls.
Currently working on a massive nine restaurants, seven apartments, five houses, three shopping mall interiors and two office buildings, there is still a dream project Albert and Eid are yet to try: hotels.
“The reason I say hotels,” explains Albert. “Is because it is one of the few typology of buildings whereby Eid and my skills can be combined to produce some beautiful spaces, something meaningful and functional at the same time. So if any hoteliers are reading, please give us a break!”