m3architecture celebrates 25 year milestone

2022 marks 25 years of practice for m3architecture, a milestone we celebrated at a party with our highly valued clients, collaborators, friends and family. From our humble beginnings on carports and deck extensions, to nationally awarded projects of all scales and purposes, we remain passionate about working with clients to make meaningful architecture – driven, as Michael Banney so eloquently expressed on the night, ‘by wonder and wondering; and an addiction to architecture, motivated by the search for surprise and the delivery of its promise.’ Read the full speech below.

The image above contains the names of all our clients over the last 25 years and we thank every one of them, along with the many people that have worked within and alongside our practice, for their integral part in our evolution and success over the last quarter century. To quote Michael Banney again, ‘without you, we would have done nothing.’

We remain in a state of wonder, and with two new directors in Elan Barr and Jonathan Goh, along with all our talented team members, the future looks bright.

Images: Jaqueline Bawtree


Michael Banney’s speech / 15 October 2022

When we agreed that each of us would make a short speech, I immediately wondered what I might say. And when nothing came to me, I thought I’d just let it tick away in the back of my mind and something would surely come. But then when nothing did, I thought I’d better think about it consciously. And that just created more questions than answers.

So after a few more cycles of this, doubt began to creep in and I began to wonder other things – how will the right thing occur to me, when will the right thing occur to me, will the right thing occur to me before tonight?

And then I had to get back to work and my mind seamlessly drifted back to the project at hand to the same state of wondering – an almost meditative blankness with a warm periphery.

And it occurred to me that being in a state of wondering with a looming deadline is what I do for a living.

In fact, if we had wondering as a phase in our time sheets it would be my single greatest entry – even at a conservative ratio of 80/20, across 25 years of practice, that’s 20 years of wondering what to do.

For helping us answer some of our own wondering, we are eternally grateful to Emeritus Professor Leon van Schaik who unfortunately can’t be here tonight, who invited our practice into RMIT’s Masters and Doctorate reflective practice programs.  Through Leon we discovered the term STS (specificity that surprises).  Though it’s a term originating in other fields of the arts, it has served as an encapsulation of what we do.

For us, this so-called specificity is something so contingent to our client as to be none other – and perhaps even more importantly, the kind of specificity that yields wonderful surprise.  To do this requires us to return to a state of not knowing before we start each new project, so we can wonder anew, and this has become part of the m3 DNA.

Over 25 years this has evolved a certain practice culture – the past and present people of m3 – with minds capable of being held in a sustained state of wondering with a healthy mix of anxiety, fear, excitement and job dependency but moreover, an addiction to architecture – motivated day in day out in search of surprise and delivery of its promise.

I suspect the ratio is actually more like 95/5 which would be closer to 24 years

25 years of wondering, of taking in all that a project is trying to be, making sense of it, coming up with an idea, debunking that idea, being utterly perplexed, realising another idea, the goal posts shifting, reassessing, across time scales of hours, days, weeks months and sometimes years, to the point where an idea emerges, and at that point our mood shifts from the beautiful fog of wondering to the warm glow of wonder.

Needless to say, all of this wondering is preoccupied with one thing – our clients.  And I would say our clients are a particular breed who choose:

  • to be idiosyncratic in an increasingly conservative world;
  • to take calculated risks amidst risk aversion;
  • to embrace the meandering path to surprise in a marketplace obsessed with guarantees; and,
  • to understand architecture as building culture and joy in cities weighed down by bricks and mortar.

So to our exemplary clients, this party is for you – without you, we would have done nothing.

And it is also for my wife – without whose support I would have done more than nothing but certainly much less than I have, and for whom this party is merely pre’s for her birthday that starts at midnight.