A Spotlight on Claire Oliver

Dedicated to Access through architecture

By Melinda Green, Marketing, Architecture & Access

Claire Oliver is devoting herself to sustainable, accessible design, and is deeply involved in the delivery of Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) as part of the NDIS. Since joining Architecture & Access 8 years ago, Claire has worked closely with private residential and commercial clients and their stakeholders to produce built environments accessible to people with disability.

I have had the priviege working with Claire for several of years. Claire’s career is forever developing, and I thought I could help you get to know her and to understand why her role is so important at Architecture & Access.

What was your journey in becoming an Architect and why are you so passionate about Access? To be honest, like many of my peers, I didn’t know I always wanted to be an architect. I chose to study architecture as I had an interest in house design and it seemed like a suitable progression from the design and maths focused units I studied in year 12.

After becoming an architect and taking a year off to travel, I ended up in Broome (WA) and spoke with an architect friend there who was designing a toilet block for a local community. She explained whilst it was modest work it made a huge difference to the community who relied on these facilities. Understanding the appreciation in practical yet considered design, with the direct benefit focusing on people made Architecture & Access the right fit.

Claire with a resident from Benalla SDA project
Claire with a resident from Benalla SDA project

How has accessible design changed in the last few years? Ever since I entered this specialised area of architecture, accessibility has been on an upwards trajectory, especially with the roll out of the NDIS and development of SDA and the upcoming implementation of further requirements in the National Construction Code (NCC). More and more, people are realising the value of inclusive design to enable the built environment to be used and enjoyed by everyone.

You have recently been promoted to join the Leadership Team at Architecture & Access. What does your new role comprise of and how will it positively affect your clients and Architecture & Access? The role takes on more responsibility and involvement in client and stakeholder engagement and processes. It means I work more closely with clients and organisations to ensure their project aligns with their strategic goals and direction, to deliver the best possible outcomes. In addition, the benefit establishing these relationships with clients enables their trust in Architecture & Access to help guide and provide assurance throught the construction process. The role also involves me taking a more strategic view of the organisation and the work we do in making the built environment more accessible.

Are you a person who likes to make things happen and what is your technique for daily motivation? keeping the motivation up (especially throughout Covid) involves lists! Each day presents new and unanticipated challenges so managing to-do lists as well as ensuring all parties are kept up to date with progress of their projects is especially important. Also, a bit of a dance around the house to exert energy from time to time also is a great wa to destress from the working day!

What do you think are the 3 most valuable things you have learnt during your career?

  1. Architecture can be a great career for continued learning and growth
  2. The importance of fostering relationships
  3. Persistence pays off!
Claire on site at Wangaratta project

Where do you see accessible design going over the next 10 years? I think smart technology and home automation will become more and more advanced and prevalent in everyday homes as well as the community homes we are involved in where there will be on-site support staff. We are excited to see what evolves in this space and how much this can benefit all users!

Has this time of Covid taught you anything about accessible design that you didn’t already know? Covid has highlighted the importance of accessible design so people can safely remain in their own homes for as long as possible. With Covid and our ageing population, design which considers accessibility for today and how to best futureproof a home to be able to live in for the years ahead comfortably and safely is proving more and more important.

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Posted in Access Consulting