The experience of living in a home as a child designed by architect Peter Stutchbury had a profound effect on Rachel Hudson. Her parents slept in a pavilion in the bush while Rachel and her two siblings slept in the main house. “It felt normal at the time, but retrospectively it’s unusual,” she says. “That said, now I have two kids the concept makes perfect sense!” While she was studying architecture at university, Rachel got to spend time in Peter Stutchbury’s office and ended up working there for 10 years. After having children, she started to take on commissions and now has her own practice. “When I’m designing I go into my own creative world, it’s a cool headspace to be in,” Rachel says. “I love imagining how a space will feel and be experienced, and to have this feeling while ‘working’ I knew I had to be on the right track.” Rachel graduated from the University of Sydney in 2003 and received the Sir John Sulman Prize in Architectural Design. While working as a project architect at Peter Stutchbury Architecture three of her projects were given Royal Australian Institute of Architecture awards. Rachel has also tutored architecture at the University of NSW.
Which five words best describe you? Passionate, interested, understated, original, thinker.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? A Peter Stutchbury pavilion addition to our family home instilled a passion for architecture at a young age. I spent time in Stutch’s office during my uni years making models and going on site learning about construction. After 10 years in his office I went out on my own professionally. I’ve now been running my architectural practice for just over three years and it’s growing steadily. I’ve had the pleasure of working with great clients and uniquely beautiful sites. I’m in a good place professionally and feel encouraged.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? To be authentic, trust my instinct and make time for yoga and meditation, which keep me balanced.
What’s your proudest career achievement? During my time in Stutch’s office I was lucky enough to be project architect on a house for Issey Miyake in Japan. It was life and career changing. I’m also proud of having the determination to start my architectural practice, even if it was a little crazy as at the time I had a newborn and a two year old.
What’s been your best decision? I spent the first year of running my architectural practice working from home. I appreciated the solitude for a while but then I felt isolated and disconnected from the greater world. Then out of the blue an architect friend phoned to see if I was interested in hunting down a studio space to share. We’ve never looked back. For me sharing a studio space with creative people is essential. I enjoy the dynamic and the dialogue.
Who inspires you? I’m fascinated and curious about all design spheres. This interest is the catalyst for conversation and connection - I gravitate toward creative people so I’d say my friends inspire me. Interestingly, my brother and sister have also pursued creative careers becoming a user experience designer and set designer respectively, and my husband can make or build anything I dream up!
What are you passionate about? Creating inspiring and engaging spaces for people. Beautiful places and spaces have shaped me and remain imprinted in my memory – if I am able to contribute to the architectural merit of our collective environment, I’m happy.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? My maternal grandfather - he passed away long before I was born and is the genetic puzzle piece I’ve never known. My mum is Dutch and her father’s overseas life story is intriguing to me.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? I would love to spend six months or longer with my husband and two children on an overseas sabbatical – ideally France and Italy for the food and lifestyle. That said, I’m married to a surfer so waves would be non-negotiable. I’ll get back to you on the destination!
What are you reading? Patti Smith’s memoir Just Kids for the second time, Charles Bukowski’s Ham on Rye and Where is the Green Sheep? Ha!