The work of architects often revolves around a powerful three-letter word: “why?”. By asking this simple yet crucial question, we can closely examine project briefs and develop solutions that go beyond the original project requirements. While the answers to this question are typically pragmatic in our ongoing work, it’s important to recognise that reflecting on the project’s purpose can infuse our actions with greater meaning and significance.
With this approach in mind, we invited architects from Gray Puksand’s various national studios, to share what inspired them to pursue this career path and the positive influence they aspire to have on both the industry and community. In the third instalment of this blog series, we interview Senior Associate Dani Martin about her accomplished career and passion for educational architecture.
Gray Puksand: Let’s rewind to the beginning. Was there a specific moment in your life that influenced your decision to become an architect?
Dani Martin: I don’t think there was one moment! Throughout my life, I’ve always had this fascination with space, planning, and the benefits that beautiful, impactful spaces have on people.
During my school years, I discovered that I enjoyed art, creativity, and science. To me, architecture is a perfect blend of all those areas. It allows me to use my creativity while also engaging my scientific, problem-solving mind. I guess it’s always been in my blood.
GP: What drew you to specialise in educational architecture?
DM: It all started when I had a four-week placement at an architecture firm in Perth during my third year of university. The firm specialised in education projects, and I instantly fell in love with the sector. The result was an 18-year commitment to the company where I built strong relationships with my education clients over many dedicated years.
GP: What do you enjoy most about working in the education sector?
DM: Collaborating with clients – especially students – is my favourite aspect. Listening to them talk to me about their interests, dislikes, and what motivates them in their educational journey is so rewarding.
After all, we’re designing spaces to help students achieve their goals and reach their full potential. I feel incredibly privileged to have been given the opportunity to create aspiring spaces to help students learn, develop and turn dreams into reality.
GP: What makes GP a great place to work?
DM: Gray Puksand’s commitment to a people-first approach not only makes it a great workplace but also drives its success in delivering inspiring outcomes for clients. Everyone here recognises that each project is unique and tailored to ensure we continue to lead with design.
With an incredibly diverse workforce across Gray Puksand’s four national studios, we can draw on extensive knowledge and experience from so many amazing architects and designers in the business.
GP: Which Gray Puksand project are you most proud of?
DM: You can’t ask someone to choose between their children! (laughs) I love all my projects equally.
My favourite part of working on my projects is the strong community focus in the education sector. I’m currently working on three diverse projects, each with its own unique journey and I’m already looking forward to seeing what sustainable outcomes we can achieve upon completion.