H+H is an architectural firm practicing in Albany, Western Australia. Amongst this firm is the small town family farm embedded, Rowan Gilbert. More often than not the younger generation of Albany seek to explore more than the southwest and having finished high school Rowan moved to Perth in order to pursue his architectural career.
Rowan graduated from the University of Western Australia and worked with Oldfield Knott Architects to gain valuable work experience before returning to UWA to complete his Masters in 2010/2011. This led to Rowan working with Woods Bagot where he gained the experience to then become registered as an architect. Since Covid, Rowan saw an opportunity to embrace the Southwest lifestyle where he and his wife decided to move back to Albany.
Here is a brief synopsis from an Interview with Rowan.
So basically, to start it off I want to know a little bit about you, your early life, where you grew up, interests etc.
In the early stages of Rowan’s life, he could be found in his fathers shed. Situated on a small farm approximately 30km north of Albany, Rowan had the opportunity to explore his creative ideas, often tinkering on wood and metalwork projects. Due to living on a farm Rowan had to board at the Albany Hostel to attend school, which provided foundation in deciding to move to Perth to study.
In more recent times Rowan has relocated back to Albany after becoming registered. The appeal of the southwest is always one that has enticed Rowan to return home, being closer to family and situated in a beautiful natural environment is what ultimately led to Rowans Return in 2020.
“When covid struck we re-evaluated our situation and thought we would move sooner rather than later.”
Albany historically is home to the oldest settlement in Western Australia & the last port ANZAC soldiers saw during WW1; In a place so rich and full of culture, what does heritage mean to you? Is it worth conserving this history through architecture?
The importance of Heritage is accentuated in the atmosphere and culture of a place. These spaces created by heritage can provide a warm sense of self,
“People from Albany tend to be proud of their connection with the town which has a strong sense of place. Albany’s rich heritage is worth conserving and architecture is one way in which this can be done. This can be both through literal conservation projects, but also modern architecture which helps celebrate the history of the area, such as the National Anzac Centre.”
The progression of new alongside old provides a stronger sense of an accepting community.
In regards to conservation & heritage, do you think the intent or aesthetic of a building is more relevant in preserving history? i.e. is preserving heritage merely aesthetic, or is it about the people and how they interact with the space?
“I think both are equally important, however the aesthetic of a particular building is what is readily accessible to the public, or passers-by. It is often difficult to communicate how people interact with a particular space to the wider public and therefore it is often not as considered when discussing heritage issues.”
Is there anything you believe Albany can change about the way we go about architectural heritage?
“Yes, there’s insufficient heritage building experts in Albany, which means that dealing with the City can often be a frustrating process, as the heritage experts are often not trained in construction. Dealing with heritage renovations can often be an expensive process, so if it’s a private residence for example there could be a government subsidy or some form of incentive for private owners to undertake the restoration works.”
Full interview responses: RowanGilbert_Interview_Response.docx – Google Docs
Photos – Lee Griffith
Special Thanks to Rowan Gilbert for lending me his time and participating in this interview.