Freshly baked pie, nachos, or a vegan burger? Lunch with Sandbox Studio!

A fresh pie, nachos, or a vegan burger? Lunch with Sandbox Studio!
Lunch with an Architect

Today at our virtual lunch table, we're joined by Luke, Dain, and Mukesh from Sandbox Studio. The team at Sandbox Studio work on new homes and renovations in both NSW and the ACT and they're all about co-creating with you to bring your architectural dreams to life.

What sets Sandbox Studio apart is how they involve you in the process. Through fun conversations and unique exercises, they help uncover what you really want, then work their magic to make it happen. It's this blend of professional expertise and client collaboration that makes their designs truly special.

So, let's dig in...

Thanks so much for joining us today, Sandbox Studio, and I'm really excited to be speaking with all three of you! This is, after all, Lunch with an Architect, what's your favourite lunch choice?

Luke: A freshly baked pie from Bourke Street Bakery, Marrickville – down the road from our studio.

Dain: Mexican generally – love a good taco, fajita, or nachos.

Mukesh: A good vegan burger with chips and karma cola would hit the spot for me any day of the week.

Freshly baked pie, nachos, or a vegan burger? Lunch with Sandbox Studio!

(Obviously) this image was produced with AI, but it still looked quite yummy and sets the scene...

What drew you (pardon the pun) to architecture?

Luke: In school I loved drawing and art. In high school my art and design teacher, Mr Rose was a great influence. I was deciding whether to go on to study architecture or graphic design, and after speaking to more people I was sure architecture was the way to go. I’ve always cared greatly about my living environment, and I was always interested in spaces/atmosphere/art.

Dain: The creation of space(s) and how we can influence and engage with the built environment. Drawings, problem solving, design.

Mukesh: Destiny; I met with Luke and Dain when I moved to Sydney from Brisbane; we became friends. I have a business management background and I was looking to start a business in the cultural industries. Partnering with Luke & Dain to build Sandbox made sense to us all; the rest as they say is history.

When did you decide to become an architect?

Luke: In my final year of school, I went to an introductory presentation of the Bachelor of Architecture and the way they described it sounded perfect.

Dain: From a young age (10ish), influenced by travel at a young age with my parents.

Mukesh: Although I am a director at Sandbox, I am not an architect, but I have always been interested in contemporary art (also dabble in making some), architecture, design, and philosophy. I still don’t know what I wish to do when I grow up , but I am glad that I am able to use my multidisciplinary strengths (I have degrees in business and humanities) in a creative profession.

What's your very mild super power?

Luke: Quick hand-sketched ideas - although they’re usually very rough and messy!

Dain: Constant desire for refinement always looking to improve (at the frustration of my peers sometimes!).

Mukesh: Communication

East Juliett

This Enmore renovation designed by Sandbox Studio has made the most of a 5-metre-wide site. The home has been opened up to encourage light and extend into the backyard.

What's your favourite thing about (residential) architecture?

Luke: It’s very personal at a human scale and no project is the same. Getting to meet and know interesting people. You get to know the client and the result is always unique.

Dain: it is the ability to create and enhance the spaces we inhabit that are tailored to the unique needs of clients while also allowing for innovation and creativity.

Mukesh: As we know memory is not just temporal it’s also spatial. When we go to people’s houses it is imbued with their life story and you know that in the upcoming years they will make more significant and trivial memories platformed on a space you are about to create. That makes our work full of life and meaning.

First album you ever bought?

Luke: It was a cassette – Sonia Dada. Soon after that was my punk-rock phase and then I was (and still am) very much into older music too (maybe my parents’ influence) eg. The Beatles Neil Young, Simon and Garfunkel.

Dain: Oasis – What’s the Story Morning Glory. Much like Luke then moved onto a punk rock phase (which never let go!)

Mukesh: I honestly can’t remember but I know I bought mixed tape cassettes from a classmate before an album from a music shop. It was filled with 90s Arabic Hindi English bangers. For context I grew up in Dubai.

Have a listen to the Lunch with an Architect: Sandbox Studio Sessions to hear some absolute classics and some head boppin' 90s bangers!

What's your favourite (residential) architectural challenge?

Luke: Probably where there are some constraints to work with such as an interesting existing structure topography or views.

Dain: Solving a puzzle through creative thinking and design processes.

Mukesh: Balancing desires with budgets; that’s where our forte in co-creation helps us & clients problem solve in a smart way!

Ultimate dinner party: Who are the four people from any time period you'd most like to have dinner with and why?

Luke: Bob Dylan, Richard Neutra, Charles & Ray Eames.

Dain: David Attenborough, Martin Luther King Jr, Oskar Schindler, and someone from the far future - I would love to see where humanity ends up (hopefully we can turn our destruction around and that we become benevolent space travellers!).

Mukesh: Artist, Nalini Malani, Architect, Sumayya Vally, Architect, Zaha Hadid and another artist, Artist Samboleap Tol

Freshly baked pie, nachos, or a vegan burger? Lunch with Sandbox Studio!

Looks like a fun party to me!

What's a (residential) project of yours you're most proud of and why?

Luke: Japan House – it was one of those projects where the clients give you a lot of creative freedom but with just the right amount input and direction.

Dain: Paddington House – nice clients who were engaging during the process. Working on a tight site needed creative thinking to solve problems and the integration of the new and existing fabrics.

Paddo Terrace

A light-filled and space-efficient addition by Sandbox Studio in Paddington transforms the terrace into a spacious home without overdeveloping the site and taking up all the outdoor space...

Mukesh: Fundamental House because of its essentialist nature.

Fundamental House
Granny flats and bungalows

Sandbox Studio designed Fundamental House, an environmentally-friendly home for a retired couple on their son and daughter-in-law's property, five bush acres in Annangrove, in the hills district of Sydney

Favourite season and why?

Luke: Spring probably it’s so refreshing and energising.

Dain: Autumn – watching/seeing the change in colours of the landscape.

Mukesh: Spring and Autumn as I don’t like extremes of any type.

New homes or renovations and why?

Luke: Over time and after working on many renovations I’ve come to think that renovations can produce a more intriguing result. The existing fabric of the home can be celebrated through its reimagining.

Dain: Renovations – working within constraints and solving a puzzle. Constraints forces creative thinking.

Mukesh: New homes because I like the opportunities to create something fresh, ambitious and innovative.

What's something about architects you wish more of the general public knew?

Luke: It would be great if architects were not seen as a luxury item - actually we can provide anyone with ideas to help improve their home and even help to reduce the final building cost.

Dain: We manage and think over hundreds to thousands of subtle design decisions which can have profound impact on a design’s outcome.

Mukesh: Most people think that architects are a specialist but it’s one of the last few truly generalist kinds of profession. Judge an architect for their ability to envision broadly/problem solve when needed and collaborate/communicate the ideas well, not just for their technical knowledge.

Best life advice you’ve ever received?

Luke: Don’t look at what everyone else is doing: there’s no one path you should take - true in life and design, really.

Dain: It sounds so cliché but – treat others the way you want to be treated. Simple yet has influenced how I try to interact with people every day with kindness.

Mukesh: When making significant decisions look at both - the panorama and the close-up view.

Frank Lloyd Wright or Le Corbusier and why?

Luke: That’s a tough one. Probably Frank Lloyd Wright – the Guggenheim in New York is one of the most impressive buildings that I’ve visited.

Dain: Neither! Although revered in our profession personally such architects as Thomas Heatherwick, John Wardle, and Glen Murcutt have had a greater influence on me.

Mukesh: Frank Lloyd Wright because we are sentient beings and organic architecture just makes sense.

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone looking to build or renovate their home?

Luke: You have an amazing opportunity to have a space custom built for you and your family – don’t rush the design process.

Dain: As Luke has mentioned don’t rush the design process, plan thoroughly, and don’t cut corners. Also adding that consideration should be given to how you live or are going to live in the spaces created. Remember you are designing for yourself, not others! Asking do I really need XYZ?

Mukesh: Sustainable architecture makes financial and environmental sense. Even if you wish to resell, the buyers are already paying a premium for well designed comfortable affordable-to-run houses.

Book Club: What book would you recommend to someone wanting to build or renovate their home and why?

Freshly baked pie, nachos, or a vegan burger? Lunch with Sandbox Studio!

Luke: The Terrace House: The Terrace House: Reimagined for the Australian Way of Life by Cameron Bruhn and Katelin Butler – this book sits on our studio bookshelf and has been a great reference with not just terrace houses but various styles too.

Freshly baked pie, nachos, or a vegan burger? Lunch with Sandbox Studio!

Dain: Green Building Illustrated by Francis D.K Ching and Ian M.Shapiro

Freshly baked pie, nachos, or a vegan burger? Lunch with Sandbox Studio!

Mukesh: Gunyah Goondie + Wurley; The Aboriginal Architecture of Australia by Paul Memmott

Some say there are two types of architect: one who reworks their thesis over and again and one who explores new ideas with every new project. Which is most like you and why?

Luke: I would say exploring new ideas though I’m sure there are some common themes.

Dain: Definitely exploring new ideas; the joy it brings to think creatively!

Mukesh: Sandbox is about exploring new ideas with every new project.

Well, I am certainly full of ideas and inspiration! Thanks so much for chatting with us today. It was a pleasure to get to know you all a bit better!

Love Luke, Dain, and Mukesh's approach and style, and perhaps share a love of punk rock? Get in touch with Sandbox Studio to discuss your project!

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Lunch with an Architect