When you enter an architectural office, you might expect to be ushered into a gleaming, imposing space designed to impress and intimidate you – a visual assurance that you are in the hands of geniuses with mastery over the building blocks that make up our environment.
What you may not expect, however, is puppies.
Pitch Architecture’s office is in a warehouse in Richmond behind a colourful mural of the owners’ pooches, by graffiti artist Set It Off. It’s a reflection of the easygoing philosophy of this growing team of young architects, designers, engineers and project managers. “We love our dogs,” laughs co-owner Alex Chan. “We’re pretty chill, and our approach when it comes to design is the same.”
Chan, who is commercial and operational manager, cooked up the idea for Pitch with design director Bo Chu in a classic Melbourne way – over a few drinks after work. At first they thought they’d simply start a small-time development business – buying a piece of land, designing a house, building it and flipping it. “But in 2015 we were midway through one of our projects and people started to say, ‘hey, can you put that house on my land?’ We decided: we’re young, we have no liabilities financially, let’s have a go.” They quit their jobs and started Pitch as a fully fledged architecture firm.
Things snowballed quickly. In just over three years they have completed around 40 projects (chronicled on their website): houses, apartments, extensions and fitouts. Chan attributes their rapid growth to their accessibility, good design and affordability. “We are not your architect with a massive ego. We are not your architect who thinks you have to spend a million dollars to make it look like a million dollars. It’s about how colour palette comes together, how materials come together. Because everybody’s got a budget; no one’s got an open chequebook.”
The company’s buildings are modern, crisp, functional and Nordic, offering a Utopian vision of 21st century Melbourne life that is not as out of reach as you’d think. “We are firm believers that money can’t buy taste,” says Chan. “It’s about good quality, affordable materials, and providing a good service so clients enjoy the design journey as much as the final product.”