While Andrew Piva studied architecture and worked in various firms in Sydney, it wasn’t until he moved to Melbourne that he hit his stride. “I found like-minded individuals in Broderick Ely and Jonathon Boucher and that’s when I felt I was able to develop the types of projects I was interested in and it has been that synergy that has resulted in the most interesting work of my career,” he says. The directors of B.E. Architecture come from different backgrounds, and each have a different skill set that they bring to the business. “Ultimately, we are able to push things farther than we would be able to individually,” Andrew says. Born and raised in Griffith, he studied architecture at the University of NSW in Sydney.

Which five words best describe you? Amongst other things - rational, detail-oriented, productive, hospitable, animated.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I began working at a drafting office at a steel fabricators in my hometown of Griffith where I learned a great deal about steel detailing and the practicalities of construction. I went to university and got my earlier office work experience in Sydney. I moved to Melbourne and began work with B.E Architecture.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Always re-evaluate your work. Often the first response isn’t necessarily correct and you have to be open to developing ideas until you arrive at the most appropriate solution for the client, their site and how the project needs to be used. I believe it is possible to reach a level of resolution in a design where everything feels as though it is as it should be and couldn’t have been any other way.

What’s your proudest career achievement? In my career, and as a practice, we were very honoured to win an AIA Awards for Siglo Bar. It was incredibly rewarding to see how our design approach for our residential work could translate into the commercial sector. Working for such an established and respected hospitality business in Melbourne, the new structure really needed to build on the legacy of the business and create a new destination. The project had so many constraints as a small intervention on major city street that posed many practical challenges for construction, including prefabrication of the steel-framed window structure that tested my detailing experience from years before. The resulting lantern-like structure has been a quiet, yet strong response that has exceeded our expectations. 

What’s been your best decision? My best decision was sticking with architecture in the first place in university. It’s a very abstract process to learn new ways of thinking and it took a little faith for the first couple years before it all started to make sense. Now I work in a profession I really enjoy and see how design can really impact the way that people live in a really positive way.

Who inspires you? I am really inspired by avant-garde chefs like Massimo Bottura of Osteria Francescana and Ferran Adria of El Bulli in the way they think abstractly to reinterpret traditional ideas about food. From a creative point of view I find it motivational, especially when you look at the work of Ferran Adria alongside the work of RCR Arquitectes, from a similar area in Spain, and you can see similar approaches between them. I really enjoy both architecture and food and I think the inventive thinking comes from a very similar place. 

What are you passionate about? Clearly, I am very interested in food and wine. I love the whole experience of being in the kitchen, eating great food and enjoying a nice glass of wine with friends and family. I’m also passionate about music in all its forms: playing, listening, and even reality television. I enjoy playing my instrument of choice – the drums – occasionally meeting up with some friends for informal “band practice”. I love listening to the crisp sound of a good record and collect some rare albums when I can get them. I am also a proud supporter of the television show Eurovision.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I’ve never had any interest in meeting celebrities. I would really like to meet my meet my wife, Laura’s father who passed away before I had the opportunity to meet him. 

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I’d love to have more time to travel and Iceland is at the top of my list, although I cannot explain why that is.

What are you reading? It is my luxury in the mornings between a very busy home life with two kids and the fast-paced nature of work to take a moment to read a few pages of something with a coffee. I’ve just finished One Day by David Nicholls and am now awaiting the arrival of the new Christian Liaigre book.

images courtesy of b.e. architecture