Branch Studio Architects

Branch Studio Architects was founded in Melbourne in 2012 by Brad Wray and Nicholas Russo. The small team of six is interested in architecture for a diversity of people and prides itself on a hands-on approach to every project, no matter how small or large. A similar approach is taken to nurturing staff to provide a happy and rewarding workplace. They do not take on un-paid interns as they highly value the profession.

Branch Studio Architects is not interested in popularity or trends – just good architecture speaking for itself underlined by a rich intrinsic discourse. They have worked extremely hard over the last five years building on foundations for the next chapter of the practice. Their first book, Proemial, was released last year as a means of evaluating and consolidating a discourse moving forward as the practice expands and grows.

In the last five years, the practice has won a series of awards for a range of project typologies from commercial to residential and educational, often pushing the boundaries of just facilitating client briefs. The Pamela Coyne Library project was lucky enough to be rewarded with an Australian Institute of Architects award in Education in the firm’s second year of practice. The studio finds educational projects particularly rewarding as they have the ability to affect and expose the possibilities of design in multiple people’s lives (particularly kids), some of whom would not who some normally have the means or money to explore.

Both Wray and Russo have ancillary furniture design workshops where ideas, materials and multi-functional sustainability are tested at the one-to-one scale. They believe in a holistic methodology for practice, where one takes on multiple roles from master planning, architecture, interior design, furniture design, and the graphic design of a project. Heading into their sixth year of practice, they team is excited about beginning work on some much larger-scale educational projects and budgets (AUD$10-15 million) yet still are adamant about maintaining interest in the smallest of projects and their infinite possibilities.

Branch Studio Architects is currently working at a series of low socio-economic schools around Melbourne, where the team finds it hugely rewarding to see the smiles on students’ faces as they interact and discover another way their school lives could be. Branch believes the best reward comes from finding out a library they designed has tripled the amount of book borrowing after it re-opened, such as was the case for their Pamela Coyne and Quaine Library projects.

Photography: Peter Clarke