Le Bureau chats to Charles Browne-Cole, founder and owner of Context Architecture, about amazing spaces, experiential learning and the benefits of co-working.
Hi Charles – can you tell us a bit about your company and how it came to be?
I am an architect; I help people get their dream spaces or realise the full potential of a space.
My studio, Context Architecture, grew organically several years ago. Friends began asking me for design advice on their homes and all of a sudden I found myself designing anything from bespoke extensions to new-build homes.
Describe an average day.
A normal day would entail visiting one of my sites before 9am when the builders and trades people are starting their day to go through construction drawings.
I would get into the office by mid-morning and spend the rest of the day working on projects.
That said, the demand and complexities of building bespoke structures and spaces means that I could be visiting a site at any time of the day.
What’s the best part of your job?
The people I work with, whether that person is an inspired client who has a vision to create something unique or a specialist crafts person who has the skill to do wonders with a material.
Both bring me a lot of joy and inspire me to produce amazing, innovative architecture.
What are the biggest challenges you face?
The biggest challenges happen when something on site doesn’t go as it should.
Maybe a supplier is late in delivering something or a tradesperson makes a mistake. It happens.
Experience has taught me that the best way to overcome issues is to work with them. I have worked in environments where people point fingers and play the blame game, which wastes a lot of energy and time.
The best way is always to work together to find the best solution and move on.
What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your business?
Not much – especially in regard to embarking on a career as an architect.
We make mistakes naturally along the way and I feel the mistakes I have made make me a much better architect. Experiential learning is the best way forward.
What drew you to a co working office?
The co working office is an opportunity to be surrounded by exciting and ambitious people.
It really helps to have a space that provides all the necessities a business needs to run, like printing, Internet and coffee! Then I can concentrate on running my company.
What’s next for you?
Personally, it’s to continue to learn; architecture offers such a wide breadth of vision that you never really stop.
The next step for my business is to continue working with clients who excite and challenge me. My work gives me the opportunity to dream up new spaces, but without inspired clients, the journey would not be possible.
The Le Bureau Quick-Fire Q&A
Who is your business inspiration?
Early bird or night owl?
If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would that be?
My mum’s kitchen.
What’s your ideal weekend?
Going somewhere that has city and wilderness.
What’s the last song you listened to?
Massive Attack, ‘Black Milk’.
The book that changed you?
‘100 Years of Solitude’ by Gabriel García Márquez.
What three luxuries would you take to a desert island?
French wine, a hammock and fairy lights.
The best piece of advice you have ever been given?
That you come into the world the same way you leave it.
And finally, happiness is…?
Seeing people smile.