Celebrating our people: Jaune-Marie van der Merwe shares her design influence and inspiration upon achieving registration from Te Kāhui Whaihanga New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA).
Providing opportunity for our people to shape their careers and enjoy professional growth has been central to Chow:Hill’s ethos since the practice was established 30 years ago. Founders Richard Hill and Chien Chow acknowledged the importance of ongoing professional development for business growth, knowledge sharing, and project delivery.
Furthermore, not only does Chow:Hill support our team’s professional development, we also enjoy celebrating it, which is why it’s a privilege to introduce Chow:Hill’s newest Registered Architect, Jaune-Marie van der Merwe.
From her training and registration in South Africa to her work experience in Canada and now her registration in New Zealand, Jaune-Marie brings a cross-cultural understanding to her design work. She took a moment to share her design inspiration and influences, how her international experience has shaped her design thinking, and what career she would have followed had it not been architecture.
Why did you choose a career in architecture?
Inherently, I always knew that whichever career path I chose, it would have had to offer opportunity for creativity and problem solving; it had to be tangible, and it certainly had to matter. I was fortunate as a child to have been influenced by a very talented architect who loved to share his knowledge and skills. Looking back, that time inspired me, more than I realised, to take on this very long, but absolutely fulfilling, journey.
You’ve lived and worked in South Africa, Canada, and New Zealand – how has this international experience shaped you as a person and as an architect?
The range of experience has certainly made me very good at adapting and has taught me the value of understanding and embracing different cultures and social climates. You very quickly learn the benefits of belonging to a community and the connections formed. This has seeped through in the way I approach clients, consultants, and colleagues, knowing that healthy working relationships ultimately contribute to increased collaboration, co-ordination and more successful project outcomes.
How do you take an idea and shape it into a feasible design?
A huge amount of time is spent extracting and pondering over the design brief, identifying, and celebrating opportunities and restrictions, studying the context, and reviewing appropriate precedents, until it all – the diagrams, the sketches, the virtual models - starts to take shape. This is the most exciting part of the design stages and, to me, the most rewarding.
What advice do you give to others embarking on their design career?
More often than not you will find yourself in a position where you need to prove yourself, whether that be to lecturers, peers, clients, urban design panels, or registration assessors. And every time, it takes a tremendous amount of courage, discipline, self-motivation, and perseverance. In the end, once you realise that when you genuinely commit you will always be challenged, and you will always grow, that makes it all worthwhile.
- How do you start your day? With a coffee and a gratitude stock take
- What’s your favourite colour – and why? I was recently asked by the most magical 7-year-old what my favourite colour was. When my answer was ‘white’, I got a very dramatic eye roll and a request to please pick a colour from the rainbow. So, green it is!
- Who or what inspires you? I am fortunate enough to work alongside some of the most talented architects I have ever come across. Each of them provides inspiration in different areas of our profession.
- Who’s your favourite superhero? It would, hands down, have to be Iron Man – I can just hear the theme song ringing in my ears.
- If you weren’t an architect, what would you be? A ceramicist-fisherman-artist of course!
June 10, 2022