We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to the winner of one of our Honorable mentions for the “Irish Cult Music Venue” competition - Robert Leslie Hillman from Australia!

Robert Leslie Hillman from Australia

Robert is a recent graduate from RMIT University, and currently works as a Graduate of Architecture in Melbourne, Australia. As part of his studies, Robert also spent time at the Mackintosh School of Architecture (Glasgow School of Art), Scotland. In addition to being a keen young designer, he also performs as a folk musician with his band Tolka, playing traditional Irish music with a contemporary slant.

In 2014, he spent 4 months living in the North of Ireland, writing and recording the album ‘One House’ and became interested in combining his love for music, art and architecture.

Brief information about the projects that you/your company have been involved with. For instance what scale have you focused on/preferred, any significant projects where company/ individuals have been involved?

Through my various student projects, professional life, and musical work, I have become interested in a study of place, time, and culture.

My final year design thesis ‘Postnuptial’ (2017) embodies this exploration, and imagines an embassy in Canberra, for a hypothetically independent Scotland. The site of the embassy reclaims a portion of the British High Commission and the project rises from a compromise and the tension between two sets of cultural values, after a divorce. The embassy employs Scottish liberal land access laws to open itself up to the world, whilst ensuring a strong relationship with the British High Commission.

In a similar fashion, my band’s album ‘One House’ (2014) also explores the relationship between two cultures. Although it was always our intention to find more authenticity in our music, it was never on our agenda to replicate the Irish tradition. Traditionally, Irish music is played as a form of social interaction and not as a performance. The very fact that our music is designed for an audience renders it untraditional, and no matter how much time we spend in Ireland we will always be Australian musicians playing Irish music. For this reason, this project mediates the realm between authenticity and a bastardisation of tradition. It is informed by an understanding of the music of Ireland, specifically Belfast, but not restricted by it.

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

For me, architecture is a creative outlet that allows me to solve everyday problems, with delightful and innovative solutions. Architecture can also be an expression of one’s culture, identity, and era. Through the designing of space, we can explore ideas and test how we might live, work, and play in the future.

Why do you participate in architecture vision competitions?

Architecture vision competitions allow a unique opportunity to explore the capability of architecture, somewhat removed from the pressures of regular work. I have chosen to participate because I felt the urge to extend the ideas and interests that were aroused from my studies. This specific competition was appealing to me because it combines my interests of architecture and music, in a country I love.

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

With everyday pressures and deadlines, it is easy to think that competitions are just an unnecessary added stress in your life. However, once registering, it really affords an escape and an opportunity to do what we love – designing!

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