Practice Profile: Architects&Co.

Split on Angelo | Architects&Co. | Photographer: Ridhwaan Moolla

As the aphorism goes, running a business with someone is like being in a marriage. Based on trust, mutual respect and good communication, Felice Burrows and Tamara Brestovac have created a solid union in their practice Architects&Co.

The pair met over ten years ago working as employees for the same practice and, despite diametric desk styles, with Tamara’s clean and organised and Felice’s the opposite, they formed a strong bond. Despite their different styles and outlooks, they suspected that they’d like to create a practice together. That suspicion became a reality when Tamara became a mum and needed the fluidity to balance professional progression with caring for her children. Tamara didn’t see a way to progress in the profession after children, a problem the wider profession is still to meaningfully address with participation rates for women in architecture declining after they decide to have kids.

Felice, already working with private clients outside of her employment, was looking to take on the responsibility of running her own practice, craving the flexibility to go beyond the rigours of the professional life of an employee, “I wanted to travel and have flexibility to dedicate time to pro-bono work.”

Tamara and Felice’s desire to explore and practice different modes of work together led them to start Architects&Co. in 2021. They knew they could merge their styles in a symbiotic way, with different approaches and schedules of work which would complement one another. Like a well-rehearsed dance where one leads and one follows, and vice versa, they know how to get the best out of each other and respect each other’s process.

By approaching their work with honesty, humanity, and humility, imbued with an ethos of “informal formality”, Architects&Co. are building relationships based on trust and results, with these relationships garnering a healthy amount of residential, education and commercial fitout work.

Split on Angelo | Architects&Co. | Photographer: Ridhwaan Moolla

In broadening their exploration of what they do, Felice maintains a belief in “paying it forward,” evident in Architects&Co.’s commitment to the future health of the industry through the Insight Onsite initiative. This program seeks to bridge the gender gap in the industry by taking young female architects and graduates on construction site visits to see theory made concrete. The goal is to boost the confidence of the participants by deepening their construction knowledge, and better inform their future practice.

In addition to this local commitment, Architects&Co. have an international outlook with Felice’s involvement in The Anganwadi Project (TAP), an NGO that designs and builds pre-schools in disadvantaged areas of Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh in India.

When she volunteered with the NGO in 2019 Felice found herself in India seven weeks later, where she educated herself in the merits and manufacture of stabilised earth blocks, procured a press and, with the help of locals, made thousands of blocks for the preschool.

Then, in March 2020 with COVID shutdowns coming into effect, and only the pre-school slab on the ground, Felice had hours to leave the country. Fortunately, she was able to manage the remainder of the project remotely.

“We are learning from our mistakes,” says Tamara, “and finding the balance between architecture and running a business – we’re not afraid to seek out the expertise of others when we need it.”

With their commitment to the future health of architecture and the difference it can make, Architects&Co. stands as an exemplar of how the freedom and flexibility afforded by different forms of practice can embrace and accommodate different times of our lives and inform and enrich our approach to our work and its results.

Jonathan Speer RAIA is an architect and editor advocating for architecture that has a meaningful daily impact on us all. He is the State Manager of the WA Chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects.

Published online:
10 Feb 2024

The Architect
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