MM Friend: Jean-Marie Spencer
Jean is one of those incredibly productive humans that makes you wonder how they possibly get everything done. She's also innately calm, and prefers to laugh than cry.
A long time friend of Milou Milou, she is endlessly inspiring, graceful and refined in aesthetic, and has moved into a punchy part of her career with a personal commitment to diversity, leadership and entrepreneurship.
Tell us a little about yourself, your architectural practice and work —
Among other things, I am an associate architect at WOWOWA. I wish I had a clear and concise bio for you, but my path to architecture was not direct. One of the many deviations led me to New Zealand, where I stayed for 9 short years. It was in Auckland, New Zealand, that I studied furniture design and making before taking the leap to architecture. The shift to Melbourne was to undertake my Masters at RMIT, and here I stayed. Every now and then I am sincerely struck by how incredible my job is. It is hard to beat the feeling of seeing something you have designed and documented come to life and how in turn, it inspires you to work harder, get better, look further and push forward. No project is perfect, as each is a prototype, but I value the growth and experience gained with each. It is a truly collaborative profession too, not only within the studio (we have an awesome team) but with the 'makers' that bring a project to life.
I also teach a running design studio, within the Masters of Architecture program at RMIT, with Andre Bonnice. It is within this context that we are able to research and expand on speculative projects. It is incredibly rewarding and there is no limit to the ideas you can discuss and develop as they are not yet grounded in/tethered to the real built environment and associated technological or financial constraints. I am constantly blown away by the level of the students' work and the boundless scope of their ideas.
What is your most loved building —
One? Not possible. A few stand-outs that I have visited over the years, include —
1— Mario Botta, San Giovanni Battista Church, 1996
2— Le Corbusier, Notre Dame du Ronchamp, 1954
3— Kilian & Christoph Dientzenhofer, St Nicholas Church, 1704-1755
Tell us about your visits to these buildings, and what meaning they hold for you —
My husband (and fellow architect) Todd and I drove through Switzerland on a Mario Botta tour, one of the easier ones to reach. After this, we went and met some friends, AM Architects, in Lucerne and and drove together to Ronchamp. We saw many other buildings along the way. Prague is an incredible city and St Nicholas was just one of many amazing spaces that we stumbled across while seeking out others on our list.
All of these spaces are rich in texture, play with light and depth and specific and unique detailing - so much to be learned.
What is your preferred Milou Milou shade —
100% ALFIE, chartreuse is punchy yet complimentary.
All images courtesy of Jean-Marie Spencer.