Tonkin Zulaikha Greer has a special interest in public spaces, public buildings and “edge” architecture, often providing buildings with roles and uses outside their traditional functions. The crossover between art and architecture is a springing point for a design philosophy, which takes each project as a new challenge, without reliance on established precedents. Constant reinvention of our architecture brings a surprising diversity to the completed projects, with an on-going sense of exploration and discovery. The work is consistently and thoughtfully grounded by appropriateness and sustainability.
Much of the work of the practice is based on public use, as either a dominant or secondary aspect of each project. The civic nature of architecture is explored through buildings with a significant public use, or with a positive relationship to the public domain of the city. Even commissions with a brief related to the individual are considered in the wider context of the urban realm and the environment.
Cultural buildings have been one focus of the practice since 1990. Projects range from significant performing and visual art multi-use centres incorporating high-quality galleries for permanent and temporary exhibition, museums of many kinds, performing art venues from traditional proscenium-stage theatres to large-scale flexible experimental venues, cinemas and educational facilities. Each progresses the nature of performance and display, the conservation of the object and the facilitation of production. Each celebrates the human delight in the collective and individual experience of excellence, challenging but welcoming.
Disused industrial buildings have often formed a viable foundation for innovative and successful adaptive reuse projects. The patina of the past is joined to the infrastructure required for complex contemporary uses, the junction producing an exciting and unique architecture. This work is joined by a body of more traditional conservation projects, uniting a strict and reasoned approach to the preservation of significant fabric with the needs of contemporary users.
The continuity of the relationship between art and architecture has underlain many of the completed and experimental projects undertaken. A series of prominent memorials have been completed in collaboration with leading Australian artists, whilst many of our cultural and private projects incorporate specially commissioned and integrated artworks. Members of the practice have individually and collectively completed installation and sculptural work for curated events.
On a broader scale, TZG has maintained an interest in urban scale interventions, ranging from precinct studies and urban design work focussed on the recreation of the city, to the design of new city spaces and broad terrains of parkland.
Residential projects ranging from the individual house to high-rise inner-city apartment buildings have been another major aspect to the work of TZG. Liveability, light and privacy are the foundations for functional and delightful spaces for people, in buildings which contribute positively to their surroundings. Low-energy use and a durability of design and construction give each project a sustainable basis.
Architecture dwells in “the other” – it is created and has its existence in the spaces beyond and between those of mere pragmatism. The primary importance to the users, and to TZG as designers, is a well-built functional object. This is, however, nothing more than the means to the architect’s desired end: a work of architecture. Here, the carefully nurtured ‘other’ is manifest, creating an awareness of the life beyond a simple physical existence. The enduring presence and significance of this architectural creation speaks to the mind and the spirit. This may be called the art of architecture; without it we are merely building.
In making this “other”, the additions to the functional program of a building are often beyond what is briefed. To preserve the professionalism and ethical position of the architect, such architectural concerns must have no negative impact on the brief requirements or on the wider social issues of building: not increasing the budget or reducing the functionality of the work. Further, they must not be patronisingly intellectual or beyond the comprehension of the users, they must relate to the building’s place and time.
For TZG, the art of architecture, this sense of the “other”, is achieved through meaning and metaphor, sculpture and light; through controlled sequences of spaces, the sparing use of iconography, the recalling of memory and the embodiment of ideas. The practice’s buildings, wide in range, divergent in aims, are developed in many ways; each related to the site, the brief, the city, the users and the current passion of the designers.