New team member: Dominic Yuen

Dominic Yuen

Dominic joined the team at PAUA Architects in February 2022.  We've asked him a few questions to get to know him a little better:

How long have you been in the architecture industry?

I’ve been in the architecture industry for over 16 years, with specialisation in masterplanning, commercial, education and public architecture.

What inspired you to become an architect?

I believe architecture is about people, it is our relationship to the land, and our responsibility to the environment.  As people, we respond not only to the structures designed, but also the area surrounding them.  As a registered architect, I think we have a responsibility to design ethically, focus on improving community living and be responsible to nature.  We must realise our clients’ aspirations and develop a holistic approach to an architecture solution which is responsive to our awareness and to the site.

Career highlight so far? (and why)

I think my career highlight so far is to have repeating clients and happy users of the structures and spaces we designed.  It means that the design responded to the clients’ requirements with design inputs which have taken the end users in mind.

If you weren’t an architect, what would you do?

I assume that it would be either project management or as a landscaper.  I value and understand the importance of Time, Cost, Quality and Performance and I thrive to exceed them with every project.  I also enjoy working the land, planting trees, shrubs and flowers to create a beautiful, relaxing environment where people can feel at peace with nature.

Another architect whose work you admire, and why

I was inspired by Ken Yeang’s ecoarchitecture, Sir Norman Foster and Nicolas Grimshaw with Hi-tech architecture in the 1990s. As I matured throughout the years I have taken an appreciation of structure and expressive structural elements as part of the architecture design.  I have recently developed an interest in incorporating biophilic design and sustainable minimalist architecture as a method to reconnect people to nature in the age of urbanisation and high rise living.

What interests do you have outside of work?

I love exploring nature and going to nature walks with my family and exploring our beautiful backyard spotting fresh water tuna (eels), fresh water koura, insects, pungawerewere, weta and the like. We also enjoy mountain biking and trail riding.

Favourite building?

When touring Europe I was inspired to the raising spires of gothic architecture and the architecture attempt to reach up and connecting to ‘higher powers’.  The way the sunlight filters through leadlights through trinity arches throwing patterns and colours on the polished marble floors.

These spaces were also designed to optimise acoustic reverbration.  When I visited the Pantheon in Rome and I was inspired by the architecture and how the building was built at that time with less technology than we currently have.  The light from the oculus during the daytime which shines through to on each statue was interesting to witness throughout the day.  As now with more modern technology of the Eden Project and the artistic forms and shapes designed by Santiago Calatrava.

The works of Tado Ando, Kengo Kuma and Takaharu + Yui Tezuka with minimalist timber architecture brings a certain peace and tranquility to our daily living.

Active adaptive reuse of existing buildings like Wellington Shed 21 and the Auckland Waterfront Railway Station gives these historic buildings a new lease of life.

The community design and landscape architecture are also keen interests of mine especially in a global housing shortage.

Favourite city?

I haven’t been to too many places but the favourite cities is Lucerne, Switzerland and Melbourne, Australia.  My interest in Lucerne is mainly because of its layout and relationship to nature, water and public spaces.  Melbourne in Australia appears to be very well designed for a big city with access more targeted for pedestrians and occupants rather than cars.

What’s one thing you wish you knew/learnt earlier in your career?

I think an appreciation for structure and management should come hand-in-hand with design.  It appears that there are insufficient amount of importance being given to structure and management in universities in NZ.  One might say it could hinder design values but I imagine it could give graduates a better understanding of structure and office management which could give them a head-start in an architectural practice as real life consists of a lot of different techniques and skills and not just design.

Best and worst things about the industry right now?

The construction industry currently is in a constant state of flux with lots of unpredictability.  Definitive cost control is very difficult to be determined and when communicating with the client and their budget requires finesse.   Fixed / lump sum procurement contracts are being scrutinised or substituted.  The Architect and the client are being pressured to accept other forms of procurement and contracts which are of higher risk, and potentially more beneficial to the contractor than the overall project.


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