History

Employee Architect

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 WA 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.

 

First Practice

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 a living.

 

Thermodynamic Crusade

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 (Deputy Premier).

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 circumstances.

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 current Director.

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 actualization.

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 periods.

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 broadening experience.

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.

 

Master Research

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) Buildings."

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.

 

Consolidation

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 development.

 

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 eco-villages.

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 change.

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 completed.

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.

Since 2010, Ecotect-Architects has been expanding its professional activities. The addition of experienced architectural associates Nigel Shaw and Rick Cameron has ensured that wisdom and esperience is on hand to assist new associates like Rujuta Dalwadi.

For further information visit:

www.solar-e.com

www.wise-earth.com

www.garrybaverstock.com