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Written by Charlotte Ashmore
on May 26, 2022

To celebrate the upcoming release of his new book, Medium, Guy Marriage sits down with Steel & Tube to reflect on his varied career which has included roles such as Architect, Author and Lecturer. Guy’s career has taken him across the globe. Ultimately, it led him back to where his journey in architecture began – in a university lecture theatre. Today, Guy is a Senior Lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington, an accomplished author of three books and over 70 articles, and an architect and one of the founders of First Light Studio.

What about architecture makes you so passionate?

I’m passionate about creating something which is a part of me going forward. This is something that I work to instill in my students. It’s not good enough to just simply design, you have to think of the future, as good architecture lasts for generations. For that reason, every architect has a responsibility to design with function, beauty and adaptability in mind.

Early in my career, I had the opportunity to work at Foster & Partners in London,
UK, for five years. During my time in London, I was involved in the design of the two largest underground stations in Europe, Canary Wharf Station and North Greenwich Station. It was a unique experience as I was a part of the station design team and we followed their progress through on site. It gives me great pride that these
stations will likely stand for at least another 200 years.

Another aspect of architecture which I love is the way in which it provides opportunities to work all over the world. Earlier today, I bumped into a student of mine from about ten years ago. He’s now running an architecture practice in Tokyo, Japan. It’s deeply rewarding to see my students go on to contribute positively to communities both locally and abroad through their work.

What is your design ethos?

I enjoy architecture which brings history into modern times and areas. When I was working in London, I lived in a beautiful historic building in Soho. The inside of the building changed every few years to suit changing expectations and styles of the building’s residents, especially the ground floor retail. However, the exterior of the building and its basic structure hadn’t changed in over 400 years. This brings me back to the importance of
good architecture. As architects, it’s our duty to deliver good architecture in the form of buildings which beautify the cities they are a part of. Of course, these buildings must also positively contribute to creating a sense of community. Sometimes new buildings want to be the centre of attention, other times it is best if they just form the background.

What role do you see architects playing in the development of New Zealand’s communities over the coming years?

I hope to see architects playing a significant role in the future of our cities. There is a huge change coming. It is more complex than just putting up as many housing units as possible to solve the housing shortage in New Zealand. The process requires careful and delicate supervision as we are looking to replace small individual houses with the bigger building blocks like apartment buildings.

By erecting housing at speed with little thought regarding how the buildings will shape and integrate with the lives of the people who occupy these buildings, we are missing an opportunity to build communities around these locations. The role of architects in this process is critical as they must ensure that quality is central to both design and build and to create urban communities instead of suburban ghettoes.

What’s your advice to graduate architects?

I speak often about good architecture. My advice to graduates looking to contribute to good architecture is to take opportunities to actually see their designs get built. It’s important for your growth as an architect to see your projects through to the build stage. This is your best opportunity to assess the effectiveness of the design and how it connects with the surrounding landscape.

My other piece of advice is to find a workplace in which there’s the right mix of experience, fulfilment from your work and comradery. Ultimately, good architecture and personal growth comes from an environment like this.

Tell us about your new book, Medium

Firstly, I’m very excited about it. My new book, titled Medium, is about medium density housing in New Zealand. It’s a technical design guide which will be published in conjunction with EBOSS. My objective in writing the book was to introduce new and different ways of building medium density housing, to get people thinking and
breathing and ultimately enjoy living in medium density housing.

I’ve lived in medium density housing for over thirty years. I designed the internal set up of my current apartment and was a lead on the design of the apartment building itself. I’m passionate about ensuring that medium density housing is a warm, dry and comfortable housing option, rather than being branded as short-term accommodation for those on a modest budget. I firmly believe it will be the future for our cities.

To pre-register for your free copy of Medium, click here.

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