Breaking the premise of ‘First Home Buyers’ being the lost ‘Bread and Butter’ of Architects’


Breaking the premise of ‘First Home Buyers’ being the lost ‘Bread and Butter’ of Architects’

There are those who are breaking the premise of ‘First Home Buyers’ being the lost ‘Bread and Butter’ of Architects’. They are qualified Architects who have chosen their professional path to improve the quality of the built environment for those purchasing their first homes. Seemingly having released their concern with kudos, instead promoting the principle of function in design decision-making processes.

‘Bread and Butter Architects’ in South Perth Como, advertise their business with the philosophy that…..

‘Architecture isn’t always about the highest building, the latest gimmicks or the glossy magazine shots. Architecture can also be about ordinary buildings types, ordinary materials and construction techniques, simply used or arranged in an extraordinary way.’ (Bread & Butter Architects 2018).











Image 1 –Bread and Butter logo


As Nelson Mota and Ricardo Agarez (Nelson Mota 2015) tell us the canon of western contemporary architecture has passed over everyday, ‘salaried’ architecture, despite its overwhelming presence in our built environment. Instead, the solo designer is praised for his ground breaking work, leaving those professionals who shape the spatial and social practices of the everyday as unsung heroes.

Summerson (Summerson 1942) poses the question of where does the real importance of design lie in our contemporary world? He is of the opinion that it is not in the individual building designed by the lone architect, that it is in the material environment as a whole, that one ‘precious’ building proffered as a coloured perspective becomes dubious, impractical.

The new millennium has brought with it a new emphasis on alternative ways of doing architecture, contesting areas of spatial production, challenging the laissez-faire attitudes (Nishat Awan 2011).

Summerson (Summerson 1942) comments that it seems to him that the high fliers such as Lloyd Wright and Corbusier, have broken as many barriers as require breaking for now. Architecture has been liberated and equipped for future adventures looming ahead. The next step is to render architecture effective to the present.

So who is breaking the premise of ‘First Home Buyers’ being the lost ‘Bread and Butter’ of Architects’? Practices that have been eclipsed by the spotlights of mainstream media? Paul Downton is one such practitioner. He is the director of Ecopolis Architects Pty Ltd. Paul is a prize-winning architect who has carved his livelihood designing healthy, affordable, energy efficient homes. Downton is revered for embodying traditional values in his built forms, ensuring his design reflects the natural expression of the lives of the people and place that it is made for whether it is their first or tenth home (Downton 2013).














Image 2 – Paul Downton profile picture

Another such professional is Neeson Murcutt. His exploration of designing for first home buyers extends beyond the immediate site, creating his concepts through the exploration of the broader relationship between the site, city and civic (Hyde 2008).


Image 3 – Avoca House- Neeson Murcutt















Image 4 – Avoca House – Neeson Murcutt –  detail of the “shimmering timber veil” of vertical spotted gum, which clads the house. Image: Brett Boardman

There are small and emerging architectural firms that have gravitated towards the first home buyers market to provide their “bread and butter”, despite the fact that economic, social and environmental factors conspire to make the type increasingly irrelevant. For many, the joy of the house remains in its potential for material and formal experimentation through detail, structure and skin. The results are often compelling in their mastery and finesse, but the question of relevance remains (Hyde 2008).

 Works Cited

Bread & Butter Architects. 2018. (accessed march 31, 2018).

  1. Richard Hatch. ‘Introduction’ in the The Scope of Social Architecture. C. Vol. 7. Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1984.

Downton, Paul. “Paul Downton – Architect.” Urban Ecology Australia Inc., 2013.

Goad, Philip. “Genius and Bureaucracy: Hitchcock, Summerson and Post-War Modern Architecture.” Centenary Essays on Architectural Historiograhy , 2006: 281-311.

Hyde, Olivia. “North Avoca House.” ARCHITECTUREAU 97, no. 4 (JULY 2008).

Nelson Mota, Ricardo Agarez. “The ‘Bread and Butter’ of Architecture.” Edited by Ricardo Agarez Nelson Mota. Footprint Delft Architecture Theory Journal 09, no. 2 (August 2015).

Nishat Awan, Tatjana Schneider, Jeremy Till. Spatial Agency: Other Ways of Doing Architecture. New York: Routledge, 2011.

Summerson, Sir John. “Bread and Butter and Architecture.” Horizon. A Review of Literature and Art 34, no. 234 (April 1942).

Tatjana Schneider, Jeremy Till. “Beyond Discourse: Notes on Spatial Agency.” Footprint 2 4, no. 97 (2009).

Image 1 –Bread and Butter logo

Image 2 – Paul Downton profile picture

Image 3 – Avoca House -. Neeson Murcutt – Image: Brett Boardman

Image 4 – Avoca House – Neeson Murcutt. – detail of the “shimmering timber veil” of vertical spotted gum, which clads the house. Image: Brett Boardman