ON ARCHITECTURE - SYDNEY ARCHITECT JENNA ROWE FOR MILOU MILOU
Tasmanian born, Sydney dwelling architect Jenna Rowe has a refined sensibility, warm heart and a penchant for sewing and silversmithing. We were delighted to discover her favourite built spaces, rituals and routines and have Milou Milou captured in her Potts Point home.
MM – Tell us a little about yourself, your architectural practice and work.
I am a Sydney based architect who grew up in Hobart. After a decade of working in various award winning practices I took the plunge and commenced working for myself last year, which may have been the best thing I ever did. I split my time between practice and academia, I teach various subjects within architecture at UTS and UNSW; and give a lot of my time to the NSW chapter of the Australia Institute of Architects, where I sit as an elected Chapter Councillor. Aside from being an architect, I am outrageously crafty and heavily grounded in making things by hand - for example I adore sewing and I make sterling silver jewellery; often influenced by architecture, admittedly.
Growing up on a smaller island inspired me to share and connect with other designers, given the limited access to design resources. As a profession, architecture sits at the confluence of art, science, mathematics, psychology, sociology, history, geography et al, it has a lovely way of infiltrating and informing your entire world. I honestly love this about architecture, which is also probably why I adore teaching it. I sometimes have to pinch myself. It really is an incredible privilege to be trusted to shape someone else’s space within the built environment.
MM – What is your most loved building?
This is an incredibly difficult question to answer, but to narrow down just one going on first instinct I would say Raven Row gallery in Spitalfields, London designed by 6a Architects.
MM –Tell us about the time you've spent there, and what it means to you.
I visited Raven Row on a cold winter's day in 2015 after reading a lot about it in journals and through a series of lectures given by the architects, Tom Emerson and Stephanie MacDonald. I had come across 6a when I found Tom’s thesis, many of the theoretical ideas were the same that I had written about in mine - we had a very similar reference list. As much as you can read about a space, until you experience it firsthand it’s hard to fully appreciate the space, how it sits in the context, small intricacies such as these - given the way in which buildings are photographed. I think the thing I love the most about the building is the way it was conceptualised.
MM – Tell us about what you appreciate about it.
I really respect the way in which the architects gave the time to the historical research and cultural narrative of the building, and then also spent equal time on the craft that went into the detailing of the various material methodologies employed. For example, 6a spent a great deal of time uncovering the cultural and historical narratives of the original 1690’s buildings - even tracing back an original rococo interior that was sold to a house in America after the war, reinstating it in its original room. Charred timber was used to form the moulds of the new cast iron facade - referencing a fire that ravaged the building in 1972. I love how the architectural moves add to and celebrate the history and cultural narrative of the building, rather than mask over it. My absolute favourite moment of the building is the custom made door hardware; they were designed by the architects and are made out of sand cast bronze, and have a beautiful little indentation in them which aligned perfectly to your thumb as you use them.
MM – And your favoured Milou Milou shade?
I am a die-hard monochrome sort of girl, I can’t go past the Nick white. My apartment is little, so clean whites reflect a lot of the brilliant north facing light and make it feel larger and airier.
Pillow slips pictured in NICK and TODD in Jenna’s apartment, shot by Jenna Rowe.