Atelier DAU (Atelier for Design And Urbanism) is a new multi-disciplinary design platform, based in Sydney.
Following seven years as a partner and founder of Sydney design practice Arque, Emma made the leap in mid-2019 to explore a more diverse portfolio of work as Atelier DAU, synthesising her diverse experience and knowledge across design and urbanism.
Emma’s career started in the early 1990’s as a student working for heritage & conservation architects Clive Lucas, Stapleton & Partners. These were formative years, providing a unique opportunity to develop an early appreciation for the heritage fabric of cities, working on many projects and conservation reports including Vaucluse House, St Paul’s College, Woolloomooloo Finger Wharf and numerous lighthouses across Australia. It also was a time for learning the fundamentals of construction detailing and the core principals of architecture. And how to draft in pencil. And in ink.
Having completed her first three years of a Bachelor of Architecture at the University of Technology Sydney (then a part-time course, which required students to work 4 days a week in an architectural practice), Emma transferred to UNSW to complete her degree. Prior to completing her degree she started work at HASSELL on the new Qantas Domestic Terminal, detailing construction packages and working on strategic planning for new sections of the airport. Still all drawn by hand.
After completing her degree in 1996 (First Class Honours), she accepted a position to work for John Pawson (through Denton Corker Marshall in their Hong Kong office) on the new Cathay Pacific First and Business Class Lounges at the under-construction Chek Lap Kok airport. This period living in Hong Kong was seminal; both in terms of work, but also in experiencing living in one of the most densely populated cities in the world.
Having seen the handover of Hong Kong to China (including a rather fun handover-party with Grace Jones and Boy George before he sold himself out to The Voice), Emma then relocated to the Netherlands to live in Amsterdam. This move would further foster a fascination for ‘urban dwelling’, ‘city-making’ and ‘wellbeing’. The next five years brought many incredible opportunities to work on diverse and innovative urban & architectural projects - for prominent and highly regarded architectural firms Bjarne Mastenbroek (now Search) / Dick Van Gameren (now director at Mecanoo) and HVDN (now Studio Nine Dots).
On returning to Sydney in 2003 (with her Dutch husband and child) Emma joined Turner - at a time when the multi-residential housing market was in its initial boom. Before things became manic and unrestrained. A move from here to Crone in 2005 to work on projects in Dubai and Taiwan, as well as residential, retail & commercial projects closer to home - further cemented a concern about the future of our cities. Growth is inevitable. But how can we be doing a better job of it?
In 2012, having just started her own practice Arque, Emma founded Archikidz - with a desire to inspire & empower tomorrow’s thinkers and city-makers. Starting with workshops for up to 300 kids at Carriageworks in 2012, Archikidz has since continued to deliver numerous initiatives - inspiring and opening the eyes of thousands of kids across Sydney and regional NSW.
Which brings us to 2019, pretty much. And a transition from Arque to Emma’s new venture Atelier for Design And Urbanism - or - Atelier DAU. The culmination of more than 25 years of learning, reflection, practice, travel, different cities, children (now 3) and a determination to make this next chapter count more than ever.