With a strong emphasis on team work, architect Michael Cooper specialises in both new builds and renovations – site responsiveness and fresh thinking are signatures of his work

The form of this holiday home by Michael
The form of this holiday home by Michael Cooper Architects evolved from the narrow nature of the site and the aim to give framed coastal views from multiple spaces.
Michael Cooper heads a team of 15 architects
Michael Cooper heads a team of 15 architects – "collaboration is key".

It’s unlikely that respected architect Michael Cooper realised that his childhood fascination with sketching boats would lead to him owning his own architecture company heading a team of 15 architects.

“I loved drawing marine craft in particular but an architect friend advised that it was a narrow field to pursue in those days so, given my passion for drawing, I trained as a draughtsperson.”

After several years in that discipline Michael realised he wanted more and enrolled in architecture school. 

Next, came a stint at Crosson Clarke Carnachan Architects in Parnell, followed by him going out on his own – and Michael Cooper Architects grew from there.

Today, the company focusses on mid- to high-level residential – both new builds and renovation work – and also works on smaller hospitality and commercial fit-outs.

When asked about his design approach, Michael says his team tries to make each project unique and site specific – so site visits whenever possible are imperative to the design process.

“From there, we’ll work with one or two of the team and establish floorplans, layouts, and an overall form design, then start looking at materiality and things like that – but a collaborative approach is key,” he says. “The young team in the office, they’ve got some great ideas.”

An award-winning kitchen by Michael  Cooper Architects.
An award-winning kitchen by Michael  Cooper Architects.

In terms of inspiration, the architect and his team refer to an extensive library of good library books and magazines, Trends Ideas back catalogues included.

“There’s also the likes of pinterest and online google – we do a lot of research, but we try to come with ideas ourselves as to what is a new way to use a material or a product, it’s about keeping your eyes open and finding inspiration in everything you see,” he says.

Cooper says the trickiest thing in terms of designing is making sure you can keep things simple, in terms of things like mix of materials, for example –  and also breaking a design down into forms that still give you the human scale.

The architect doesn’t brand his team as sustainable designers, but rather feels that good design inherently addresses a lot of sustainable aspects.

“We naturally look at orientation, maximise insulation, use local materials wherever possible and are putting solar into our homes.”

Michael Cooper says his company is somewhat shy of awards, focussing on making the owner happy – ‘then if our clients suggest it we will enter’. 

That said, Michael Cooper Architects has a string of architecture awards to its name, including from the Master Builder’s Association and from the Trends International Design Awards programme.

To find out more and talk to Michael Cooper, contact Michael Cooper Architects 

  See more from Michael Cooper

Story by: Trendsideas

04 Dec, 2022

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