In 1969 founder,Garry Baverstock had early work experience with
one of the oldest firms, in Western Australia, W G Bennett, Allen
and Allen. Upon completion of the couse he was offered a job and
worked until the end of 1971. He developed a very good relationship
with W. G. Bennett, who was incidentally, the first registered
architect in Western Australia in 1920.
Being talented in architectural rendering and perspectives, he
did many of the firm's concept sketches during that time. Work was
varied and he gained valuable experience from his mentors and
friends, Ken Paterson and Gary Doyle.
Leaving W A to find his own way in life, he worked with Sidney G
Hirst and Kennedy in Wollongong 1971-1973 and John Dalgarno in the
ACT 1973-1975 where he designed and project managed a 6 storey
building in the Woden Valley.
Arriving back in WA in 1975, the new arrivals found it
extremely difficult to develop the practice. By 1977 Garry was
disillusioned with the values of a society that continued to waste
energy and pollute the planet, so he started studying engineering.
To explore built environment solutions. While designing and often
physically building speculative houses to supplement income, Garry
took great interest in the science of thermodynamics as private
study at first.
Early 1978, he made a promise to himself never to design a
"non solar" or energy inefficient building ever again. It was to be
a profound decision, but an extremely gruelling path of sacrifice
and struggle. But it helped create an actualisation of self, and a
will that was to go beyond the practice of architecture and making
While studying engineering part time, significant people crossed
paths with Garry. Two pioneers, Mr Ron Brown, inventor of the
thermosiphon solar water heater and Dr. Rob Lawrance, physicist,
and solar energy expert, helped immensely in the development of
solar calculations and practical solutions of solar housing.
A former lecturer of Garry's Mr. Peter Little became a
colleague, as Peter was one of the early pioneers of solar housing
in Australia, if not the world. The "Tecto" method of design
resulted from their professional allegiance and the "Tecto" thermal
computer analysis program was developed and refined later at Curtin
University in the late 1980s.
The study of thermodynamics was a critical change in direction
for Garry Baverstock as it married intuition (which most architects
rely upon) with science.
It was a prolific period. Garry designed and built houses during
the daylight hours and at night studied, wrote his book "Low Energy
Building in Australia" (with long term friend/colleague, Sam
Paolino), developed the tecto thermal analysis computer program.
Eventually, he pioneered a building company, Tecto Solar Homes that
won many HIA Home of the Year awards in the 1980s.
Establishment as a Solar Architect
The prolific activities and the running of public education
programs about solar design of housing, led Garry to become a very
well known identity in Western Australia.
Throughout the 1980's he won many awards for solar designs
for residential, commercial and institutional projects and has had
a multitude of newspaper articles written about his projects and
activities. Garry was the founder of the Low Energy Building
Council at the HIA in WA, and was way ahead of trends and future
activities that eventuated in the late 1990's such as HIA Green
Smart. Many WA builders owe their early knowledge of passive solar
design to Garry and his colleague Geoff Corrick.
He was instrumental in many innovations, including the
timber-louvered Tecto, sun control pergola, polystyrene and
polyurethane integrated roof and wall systems and various night
ventilation cooling systems for houses. He gave advice to many
inventors who took heed of his advice and made changes to improve
the solar efficiency of their ideas during this period. Many of
these products and ideas are now in the market place.
In 1985, the WA State Government closed down the very popular
Solar Energy Research Institute of WA (SERIWA), started by the
Statesman /Premier Sir Charles Court. Angered by this, a group of
investors led by Garry started planning a development known
originally as the Solar Design Centre, but was to become the Solar
Energy Information Centre.
This initiative was to take up the vacuum left by government at
the time by the newly elected labour government that
closed down SERIWA.
Solar Energy Information Centre
By 1987 a property was purchased in Canning Highway, South Perth
and the building was completed in 1989 opened by Minister Mr. Geoff
Carr in the presence of Opposition politicians, Richard Court
(later to become premier of WA) and Hendy Cowan, later to become
This was set up as a separate trust and received some meagre
government support to help supply public information services. It
operated until 1995 but was forced to close due to economic
The Solar Energy Information concept and history is covered in
much greater detail on the solar-e.com satellite web site, solare-energy-information.com.
Three significant relationships were formed and
consolidated. Long-term colleague, Dr. John Barker, from ISES
involvement in the late 1970's, when he was not a public servant,
was a valuable confident for decades after. The government
at the time, with support of the opposition at the time,
agreed to second John to coordinate public information activities
and report back to government. One of the stalwarts of the Solar
Housing Interest Group (SHIG), Geoff Corrick, became an investor in
the trust and Chairman of the Board. This gave his private
organisation great credibility.
In 1988 John Barker introduced another close colleague Dr. Bill
Parker, a microbiologist who became very interested in the Solar
Energy Information Centre, becoming its manager when it was built
and extended his interest to the Australian and New Zealand Solar
Energy Society during that period. Bill became an officer bearer
and editor of Solar Progress magazine for decades and in 2010 was a
The intellectual and professional relationship with Bill
continued with the founding of solar-e.com, in the late 1990s.
although very dirrent people, there was a common bond of
environmental ethics and, oddly enough, music.
The Solar Energy Information Centre years were a bitter-sweet
experience for Garry Baverstock. On one hand he received accolades
and awards (including the national Energy Award, 1993, and the
Australian Design award, 1990), on the other hand enormous debts,
great stress from business management problems, and eventually
financial ruin created a life altering experience for him
philosophically and spiritually.
It was also great teacher about business, people, life in
general and above all the chance to look at himself from a new
perspective!. Strengths as well as flaws were exposed. it was a
real opportunity for self-evaluation. As reported on www.solar-e.com, this challenging
and painful experience led to an emotional and philosophical
strenghening and breakthroughs in self-realization and
But undeterred, philosophically but shaken emotionally, Garry
continued his practice wihout wavering from the objectives, set in
the late 1970s. Partnerships with log-term friend and colleague,
Sam Paolino and later, Michael Murphy, proved to be unsuccessful
financially, though many achievements were attained during those
The consolidation of positive qualities and values was a by
product which led Garry Baverstock to focus even stronger on the
high ground, not just on pragmatic solutions. It was a mind
As part of this journey, was the desire for a greater depth of
knowledge about energy efficiency of commercial buildings. While
practicing the principles in developing the Solar Energy
Information Centre, he was conducting research into air/mass
exchange in air-conditioned buildings. The discipline needed to
achieve a Masters or PhD was appreciated as a philosophical
experience. The seeking of truth being a sentiment that was
complementary to Garry's goals.
Commencing the process in 1988 by converting his Associateship
in Architecture into a Bachelor of Architecture, the Masters
program began in 1989 and ended in 1993. The title of the research
thesis was "The Effect of thermal Mass of a Structure in
Energy Efficient Commercial (Air Conditioned)
Coinciding with an expansion of his practice into commercial and
institutional work, it gave greater depth and validity to the
ground-breaking architecture being produced.
An interest in university education followed, as Garry increased
his involvement in tutoring, lecturing and supervising students
during this period.
It was the beginning of a long professional association with Dr.
Neville D'Cruz who was Baverstock's Masters' supervisor 1989-1993.
Collaborative research projects were undertaken with Neville. The
conversion of the "Tecto" program from a mainframe version on the
University of WA's Dec10 system to a micro-computer-package,
was one such project. The CSIRO provided grant funding for the
work. This main frame program was donated to the UWA at this time
and a young architecture student, Andrew Marsh took up the
challenge and developed the technology further to include a total
environmental analysis including acoustics, and lighting and
integrating it into new emerging CAD systems. After his PhD, Dr.
Marsh developed this program to be known as 'ecotect'. Because of
Garry Baverstock's assistance to him and Dr. Derek Carruthers
during his studies, Andrew later agreed Garry Baverstock be granted
a license for life to rename his practice after the program.
In 1995 the firm won a design RAIA competition for the
Centre for the Applications of Solar Energy. Innovative built
examples were completed at the Perth Zoo, for the mining company
Alcoa and the award winning Piney Lakes Environmental Education
Centre in 2000.
Business wise, the period of 1996 onwards was on the
foundations laid over the previous 21 years.
Garry Baverstock established solid marketing / educational
techniques to expand public interest in solar design of housing,
through Climate Sensible Designs.
Futher expansion of Garry's philosophies took him beyond
architecture. Activities included music, university education,
research, consulting services, service on the board of the RAIA (WA
Chapter), film-making, and back into real estate
Eco Development 2000 Onwards
Amalgamation of experiences as a builder, developer and
entrepreneur as well as architect, led to a strategic allocation of
time effort and financial resources into real estate development.
Combining forces with his partner in life, Julia Hayes, a number of
properties were purchased for developing demonstration
Although eco villages had finally become the buzz word of the
21st century, it was recognized that opportunists, with a view of
short term gain were about to corrupt and misuse the ideas
developed by Baverstock and many of his contemporary colleagues
over the previous 30 year period. With the support of Julia Hayes
and business supporter, all this was about to change.
In 2000 James Shaw joined the practice and helped to shape the
business and architecture to reflect the time and add experience
and design talents to the team. Andrew Ferguson joined after the
move to Swanbourne, after he completed his Masters in Environmental
Architecture at Murdoch University; a course set up and managed by
Garry, to address the built envronment influences on climate
Throughout the last 35 years of practice a main stay has been
the design and project management of individual houses. Great
successes have been achieved in this area of architecture.
Consulting work has always been an added dimension, as well as a
variety of commercial and institutional projects being
The history of Ecotect-Architects has primarily been a
professional journey by Garry Baverstock. In the last decade
completed projects produced by the practice have clearly been a
definitive of this journey of accumulating practical and technical
experience. The talent, professionalism and competence of James
Shaw and the added expertise and enthusiasm as well as design
talent of Andrew Ferguson has been a great bonus for the practice
helping it reach the standards of services offered today.
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