Vader House
Peter Bennetts Vader House
Andrew Maynard (center) and staff
Courtesy Andrew Maynard Architects Andrew Maynard (center) and staff

We assume Andrew Maynard (no relation to this writer) sleeps, but you wouldn’t know it from the impressive body of work the young architect and his staff have turned out over the past eight years. Maynard is part of that new breed of architects for whom buildings are merely a starting point.

The multidisciplinary firm dabbles in product design, retail design, prototype housing, exhibition design, cultural projects, polemics, and such radical concepts, as the CV08, the suburb-eating robot—a conceptual structure designed to consume and recycle the Australian suburbs.

Andrew Maynard Architects, which designs some of coolest houses in the land down under, approaches design “with great difficulty, but much enthusiasm,” Maynard says. “I don’t think non-designers realize how hard it is to design a building. We grind and persevere to create the work. The real art is trying to make it all look easy.”

Although he’s a world away, the architect says the United States is a huge inspiration, especially its pop cultural references and architectural icons such as the case study houses, Louis Kahn, and Rick Joy.

The small firm’s work is diverse and environmentally conscious—always sensitive to climate, passive solar, and through breezes.

Maynard describes the firm’s work as eclectic, but his buildings are always architecturally inspiring and infused with whimsy and humor. “We try very hard to be responsible, ethical, and sustainable in all parts of the process, but our priority is to be playful, have fun, and enjoy what we do.”

What is the most gratifying aspect of residential practice?

Producing the unexpected for our clients. Yesterday the client from the recently complete mash house told me that he was on holiday and realized that where he was staying was not nearly as good as his new home. So he cut short his holiday and chose to spend the rest of his break getting to know his new architecture.

What is the most frustrating aspect?

Cynical people. I naively expect builders, engineers, councils, etc. to be as enthusiastic about design as I am. When I am presented with negativity or just ambivalence I get quite frustrated. ‘No’ is too easy for people to say, and many employ it as their default position.

What is your mission statement or firm goal?

Around the office we talk a lot about architecture of enthusiasm. It is easy to become cynical and we try to remind ourselves why we do what we do.

What is the most indispensable tool in your office?

Our battery-powered Lego At-At. Man, I love that thing.

What software does your firm use?

SketchUp and Vectorworks.

Who is your ideal client?

Matthew Barney and Bjork.

What is your favorite building?

The penitentiary building in Port Arthur, Tasmania.

If you didn’t have the time to design your own house, who would you hire?

I would never design my own house. I would be the worst client. I change my mind too often. I keep asking Steve Jobs to design my house but he keeps telling me he’s too busy.