Navigating local complexities to create beautiful designs

September 10, 2020 BY

Eight years ago, Josh Crosbie made his way to an opportunity shop and donated his suits. It was a pivotal moment in his career as an architect – he was moving away from large-scale commercial work in Melbourne to bespoke houses and smaller scale commercial projects.
This shift in career direction led Josh to open Josh Crosbie Architects on the Great Ocean Road at Lorne, and recently in Pakington Street, Newtown, where suits are no longer needed.

“I knew from when I was in primary school that I wanted to be an architect,” Josh said.
“I’ve always had a deep desire to understand how things are made and I always loved drawing as well, so from a very young age I was looking for a way to combine those two passions.”
Josh has combined these passions for the past 13 years after completing degrees in Architecture and Construction Management at Deakin University’s Waterfront campus. He refined his craft working as a commercial project manager in Melbourne for three different consultancies on large scale $500 million projects for his first five years out of university, and credits mentors including architect Rob Hutton, from
the Bellarine Peninsula, for helping him refine his skills.
“He used free hand drafting and is very careful and meticulous in his work,” Josh said of Rob.
“This was a great inspiration for me as it seems our freehand art is become a dying breed, sadly.
“I’m proud to still use freehand art as part of my practice today.”
The desire to help people realise vision for a dwelling and create meaningful and lasting buildings is one of Josh’s favourite aspects of his profession, as well as fostering informed client relationships.
“I hope to continue creating beautiful spaces for people and to make their development process an enjoyable one – far too often sadly the building and design process can lead to disputes.

“This process is usually a very daunting prospect for property owners so we start by making the journey ahead easy to understand and digest.”
Josh begins by engaging clients with a site analysis and free hand sketches in a more collaborative approach to initial concept work – the “fun” part for clients to help them understand the design process or, as Josh says, “the method to the madness”.
“Our designs are first and foremost for our clients – so delivering to their taste is paramount,” Josh said.
“Having said that we do love natural textures and elements, so recycled hardwood and rammed earth walls are common for us. If the project is more modern or sharp, then concrete, ply, steel and glass are well used.
“Our designs are the best possible balance we can achieve between the brief, the site and their budget. That means delivering clients’ needs which are site responsive to their land and affordable to them.”
Josh’s words of wisdom for people beginning their design journey is simple:
“a great design process should be a fluid process so find the best architect who you’ll feel comfortable with to nurture you along this journey”.

While one piece of advice he hopes to teach others in the industry is to provide clients with realistic and informed advice on budgets and expectations from the very beginning.
“This is where a lot of our profession struggle, unfortunately.”
Personally inspired by rugged elements in nature, particularly in coastal and alpine environments, Josh
also has a love for Modernism from the 1930s to the ‘60s: deco, international style and mid-century. Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies Van Der Rohe are also in his inspirational mix.
Josh focuses on site responsive and environmentally conscious designs, allowing natural textures and simple built forms to do the talking.
“We don’t really work on ‘out there’ massive projects down the coast very much which often seem to scream out for attention – we enjoy working on more grounded and humble projects for discerning owners.
“Responsible and appropriate design to a local area is very important to us.”
Sustainable design is a focus at Josh Crosbie Architects, where the pursuit of an environmentally conscious building also factors in economic and social sustainability practices.
“Simple design pursuits and best practices make an enormous difference to your environmental impact (carbon footprint) and will improve your quality of living at the same time: passive solar gain, natural ventilation, thermal mass, insulation in the right places and so on.”
Hardwood, recycled where possible, is featured regularly in Josh’s designs because of its hardy nature, perfect for coastal environments, and its response to nature by greying off and darkening when wet.
“The species we use regularly are also compliant to BAL29 ratings, which means they give improved resistance to ember attack during a bushfire.
“The Surf Coast is a really unique landscape where cool temperate rainforest meets this stunning coastline – so this makes for amazing design opportunities which capture the views yet ideally assimilate well into their surroundings.
“We love our niche down here and we navigate the local complexities of bushfire risk, steep hillside sites, lots of native vegetation, tricky access, land instability and a myriad of planning controls amongst other challenges.”
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