Georgia Singleton is the Global Director of Health, Education and Science at Woods Bagot, and the third in Michael Smith’s profile series on impressive women who are shaping architecture in Australia.
At Woods Bagot, Georgia has continued to provide a strong commitment to the sector’s ongoing development across the globe. Having worked on a diverse range and scale of architectural and interiors focused projects, she seeks to push traditional building and fit-out typologies with dynamic, highly integrated and research-driven solutions.
What do you enjoy most in the practice of architecture?
The role of architecture is changing. We are problem solvers and thought leaders of the future for business, universities, governments and schools. In education, science and healthcare, where research-led design enables great design outcomes, we are seeing a paradigm shift not borne from aesthetics, but rather cross-discipline collaboration.
I love the fact that design is never your own; it’s fluid and constantly changing and evolving. Design is also a collective notion – you are only as good as the people you surround yourself with. It’s those talented individuals and research designers I work with every day that really inspire me, make me move.
Can you tell us about a key project that you have been involved in?
I have been involved in a number of key projects including the University of Sydney Business School, the Nan Tien Institute and Cultural Centre, the University of Western Sydney’s campus redevelopment and the University of New South Wales Australian School of Business & Bioscience projects.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a woman in architecture and how did you overcome it?
Before my time at Woods Bagot I worked in a company that didn’t respect women’s ideas, thoughts and values. I was quite bemused by this as being a woman in architecture allows a different voice.
As women we bring different ideologies to the fore and it helps create dynamism in an organisation. It’s so important to nurture female talent rather than stymie it, and recognising female excellence in architecture is what I strive to do at Woods Bagot.
Who do you look up to in the architecture profession?
It would have to be Woods Bagot Executive Chairman Ross Donaldson and Global Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Nik Karalis. Both men truly inspire me. They have changed the shape of Woods Bagot, the way we design, and have shown the true essence of what it means to be global design leaders.
In terms of people I have been influenced by, I would say Alvar Aalto. Every time I experience one of his buildings, I get reignited. I studied him a lot and love how he compresses space and then expands it. I love the siting, the fluidity, the fact that it’s NOT polite. I love that.
What does a typical day at work involve for you?
I love the diversity of my role. It’s everything from design to managing a team, board decisions, dealing with stakeholders and clientele, and dealing with managing a global sector.
What are you looking forward to in your career?
Right now I am at the pinnacle of my career. There will definitely be more challenges ahead but at the same time I am confident and equipped to handle these because of the support I have at Woods Bagot and the comfort that I have with the right team of people around me to make sound decisions.
What do you see as your core strength in the practice of architecture?
I see myself as a good facilitator of design and a person that brings together the right team of people. The great thing about Woods Bagot is that the model is built around co-authorship so it’s not just one person’s design, it’s collective. By having a model that harnesses combined talent it enables us to produce the best design outcomes like when we worked on the University of Sydney’s business school and UNSW biosciences.
Georgia Singleton was interviewed by Michael Smith from Atelier Red+Black. This profile is co-published with the Australian Institute of Architects.