Interview: Sydney-based Architects Anita Panov & Andrew Scott of panovscott.
As someone who’s lucky enough to call the same person her life and business partner, I feel an instant sense of comradery with those who are in the same boat. And although I haven’t yet had the pleasure of meeting Anita Panov and Andrew Scott in real life, I like to think of them as kindred spirits. Am I weird? Let me answer my own rhetorical question here (I know, like – WTF) by saying – no, I don’t think so, dude. And here’s why.
People who are able to successfully (and happily) work with their partner often share some similarities. First of all – they are wholly compatible to be able to work together, this is a given – but that aside, they are also self-aware and cognisant of somebody else’s needs at all times. They are respectful, compassionate, in-tune and have a well-developed sense of intuition. They cast aside ego and pride for the benefit of the common goal. They are open and brave enough to be vulnerable to chuck all their eggs in one basket without holding back. They know how far they can push and when it’s time to pull back so that work doesn’t overwhelm life – especially when life and work are one and the same. Etc. Anyway, my point is that these are the very same qualities that I believe are ideally suited to architects, and especially those who design the most intimate of spaces for their clients – their homes. Which is precisely what Anita and Andrew excel at, and the reason we are here today celebrating their work.
Anita and Andrew established their Sydney-based studio panovscott in 2012. With just 6 years in practice, one might assume they are green-faced emerging architects who made an impact with a bunch of remarkable projects early on in their career, including a host of esteemed awards under their belt already. Except, it’s quite clear, even at just a glance, that this is no work of emerging talent, but rather by two people who have done their time in the industry, having accumulated serious experience via lengthy apprenticeships with much-lauded architects. Besides, Anita is an accomplished pianist and Andrew was a painter before studying architecture, so the depth, richness and sheer poetry of their output can also be attributed to the life they’ve already lived outside of architecture. Hallelujah!
Anyway, that will do me. Today, in partnership with our roomies at Laminex, we take a look at a few beautiful projects by panovsott while taking a deep dive into their approach to life, business and their creative process. Please make some noise for these absolute champions. I’m so stoked to have them here!
+ Hello Andrew & Anita, welcome to Yellowtrace! Could you please give us a quick introduction on yourselves and the path that lead you establishing your practice?
We are Anita & Andrew, partners in life and practice. Together we direct panovscott Architects and parent our two children.
The official story is that panovscott started about six years ago after we had both spent about a decade in apprenticeship at well respected design practices. That said the more revealing story is that our parallel paths began when we shared a furtive glance across the table at a design crit in second year at university.
1 of 16 House, Sydney. Photography by Brett Boardman.
+ What is your main priority when starting your projects? Is there something that is fundamental to your practice, your philosophy and your process?
Having spent quite a bit of time in practice prior to opening our own shop, we began with a clear idea about the type of projects we would seek. That position has continued and we have found that each project really does represent the next in the sense that engagement and the pursuit of excellence is seen and sought out by others.
That idea of a continuum of consideration woven by the speculations and transformations produced by our practice is beguiling. Recently we came across Luigi Ghirri‘s essay called the Open Project from 1984, in which he describes the following story:
“Jorge Luis Borges tells of a painter who, desiring to paint the entire world, begins to make canvases showing lakes, mountains, boats, animals, faces, objects. At the end of his life, putting together all these canvases and drawings, he realises that his immense mosaic has formed an image of his own face…”
In terms of process it was interesting to gather some images to demonstrate our way of making for this interview. There are images, words and models we make, before, during, after and, in some cases, quite some time after the project is finished. Always those representations are made to explore some kind of poetic potential we uncover, inherent in the condition of the project. Like the fine line drawings of 1 of 16 which unveil the new spaces and transformed dynamic of the family in the context of the back yards and the street art gallery out the back. Or the small books we make about each transformation to capture an architectural idea and manifestation. Or the collages we made of the Art Shed in accelerated decay after the project was finished, so that we could test the consequence of our material and detail decisions.
1 of 16 House, Sydney. Photography by Brett Boardman.
+ How do you go about initiating projects – do you do this together or separately? You must find that your partnership enriches your output, but is there ever a time when you drive each other crazy, or when designing or working together can be challenging?
We tend to work together on the tasks at the outset of a project so that our divergent ways of thinking and being can become evident in the design response. When that is done well, it allows each of us to take up different parts of a project seamlessly as it moves through the subsequent stages. This way of working relies on the shorthand we have developed between the two of us – but not just us, also the wonderful people who collaborate with us inside and outside of our office.
Yes, we drive each other crazy. All the time. As challenging as that tension is, it is essential to realise that that tension, when it is founded on mutual respect for what the other will bring to the table, establishes a creative energy that invariably results in an outcome better than each of us could have imagined individually.
Though the productive benefit of collaboration is clear, we have also found the ability to share the intrinsic understanding and support of another is a wonderful antidote to what is a stimulating but also often isolating profession.
Art Shed/ Garden Gallery, Sydney. Photography by Brett Boardman.