David Hansford accredits his hardworking father for his [own] strong work ethic and intentionally fuss-free approach to the practice of architecture. David is the founder of DAH Architecture, a Brisbane-based boutique practice, known for its striking portfolio of residential and mixed use projects. “My old man was a tradesman and small business owner, which I feel has influenced my approach to architecture and practice,” Hansford offers. “I have worked full-time since 2nd year university and learnt like an apprenticeship of sorts.”
David’s seminal project – Church House – in which he deftly transformed a historic Brisbane church into a dynamic and contemporary family residence, formed the impetus for David’s leap into private practice. It is here, in the running of his own business, that David is able to leverage his inter-personal skills and love for the pre-planning and brief development stages of a project. “I feel that my niche skills are connecting and understanding what my clients want to achieve in their projects and delivering that in the simplest and most enjoyable manner achievable,” David explains. “My interest in architecture lies in the psychology of people and how they interact and inhabit spaces.”
As the father of a young son, David thrives on working closely with many of his clients, many of whom are at a similar life stage. “I really enjoy being invited in to their lives, to design flexible houses that change with their growing families.”
A lifelong Brisbane resident, David is inspired by his hometown, so much so, that his favourite pursuit is to walk through its diverse neighbourhoods, taking in its ever changing streetscape. “I have lived in various houses all over the city and love the way that different suburbs can be identified by typologies and topography,” he says. “I feel this makes Brisbane such an interesting place to work as I rarely find any two sites the same. I think coming from a city like Brisbane and seeing amazing architecture, music, art, etc., produced locally, has influenced an ethos of supporting the young and unheralded talent that surrounds us.”
Predictably, David is a team player, and the success of many of his projects can be attributed to the collaborative spirit he fosters in each team. However, the single person he cites as his main source of inspiration is his wife, Lucy. “She’s a very talented architect and always offers the perfect critique that unfortunately usually takes me another day or two to realise,” he admits.
In addition, the designer lives and breathes design, through the way in which he interacts with his environment. “My lifestyle and day-to-day activities have an influence on the design we produce whether it’s watching my son interact with a space or walking the streets of different suburbs looking at houses with my family,” he continues. “I also feel that the more people I meet and interact with, the more equipped I am to extract their vision for their home and design spaces for them to inhabit.”
David’s pragmatism extends to his thoughts about the future of the industry. “The biggest challenge we currently run into [in our practice], is the rising cost of trades and materials which seems to be magnified by market expectations for bigger spaces and protecting the ‘re-sale value’,” he says. “As for trends in residential design,” he continues, “I think as density and costs increase, the importance of efficient and resourceful design will take precedence.” And predictably, it’s a forecast that the architect actively translates into real and sustainable strategies within his own work.
Photography by Cathy Schusler
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