We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to the winners of the Festival state award of our “Adelaide Creative Community Hub” competition -  Luke Carter, Mukesh Vanjani and Dain McClure-Thomas from Australia!

Luke Carter, Mukesh Vanjani and Dain McClure-Thomas from Australia

Sandbox Studio is an emerging co-creative architecture studio based in Sydney and Canberra, Australia. Since inception it has been our goal to play our little part in shifting the status quo in architecture. Whilst we appreciate that architecture is a discipline and architects are trained to problem-solve, it is our belief that architecture is inherently social/human-centred. Therefore, as architects it is our role to educate, facilitate and empower people to flex our creative muscles and be more confident in actively participating in problem-solving.

Sandbox Studio was founded in 2013 and has three directors that have assembled together from different backgrounds to complement each other, and bring an interdisciplinary voice to the table.

Dain - Architect + Voice on culture

Luke - Architect + Voice on small footprint living

Mukesh - Practice manager + Voice on psychology

We have worked on a range of varying projects from office fit-outs, craft beer tasting rooms, small bars to small sustainable dwellings. Our main focus has been residential projects with a vision of working towards a wide variety of projects such as co/ social apartments/ high density living.

We have worked on several residential projects with inbuilt flexibility to evolve with people's changing needs over lifespan. We have found these projects to be highly meaningful. Furthermore, we have worked on a variety of projects such as:

- Alterations and additions to heritage properties in Sydney

- Office fit-out in Sydney CBD


- Sustainable small-footprint dwelling in Annangrove

- Small hospitality projects such as a tasting room for a Surry Hills bar

Moving forward we wish to continue adding a variety of projects to our repertoire and transfer learnings from one type of project to another. Also, we are always looking at analogous projects from other design disciplines. We are particularly interested in addressing issues such as affordable housing and participating in the range of solutions that the society is working on, from co-living to intergenerational living and everything in between.

What does architecture mean to you and what is the role of the architect in your society?

Architecture is life. Architecture is art. Architecture is science - natural and social. Architecture is joy. Architecture is play. Architecture is love. Architecture is a moral responsibility. A moral responsibility to contribute towards shaping the world and leaving it in a dignified state. We say this with regards to both sustainability (social as well as environmental) and aesthetics. With the ongoing rise in urbanisation, the role of the architect has never perhaps been as pertinent and critical in the society as it is today. Having said that, we believe it is essential to empower the creativity of people and co- create with them to reach optimal solutions to problems and opportunities. We know from experience, this is only possible when we are in a state of 'play' and so it is essential to design such environments (place + mindset) for ourselves and our collaborators.

Why do you participate in architecture vision competitions?

We participate in architecture vision completions to have a say in shaping the society. We appreciate the democratic nature of competitions and the platform it offers to express ourselves and make us better architects. Our designs are informed by research and the concerns of the context. However, we enjoy the flexibility vision competitions offer in flexing the creative muscle.

What advice would you give to individuals who struggle to decide whether it would be beneficial for them to participate in architecture vision competitions?

We think there are three great reasons to participate in vision competitions:

1) The scarce restrictions allow one to push the boundaries. This inevitably translates to our daily practice of architecture and can be thought of as 'preventative action' against stagnation.

2) Opportunity to 'go deep' in learning about designing for a particular purpose. For example, while participating in the Adelaide Creative Community Hub competition, we had the pleasure of learning and applying theories of psychology in this context.

3) Vision competitions allows us as a community member to shape the narrative of a society we would like to live in. By virtue of being alive in this day and age, we are global citizens by default. And therefore, whether the site is based 10km or 10,000km away from us, one's participation is a valid and much needed contribution. As Armenian-Turkish photojournalist AraGüler said,

"If I weren't a photojournalist, I would have liked to become an architect. Do you know why? Because only an architect can add something to this world. Something extra. The world plus one."

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