Voice of an architect: RIO Architects

In the second installment of our Voice of an Architect series, we speak to RIO Architects Interior Designer Gareth Davies. With a minimalist architectural aesthetic, use of biophilic elements and focus on green and sustainable commercial construction, we are consistently inspired by the ambitious work of this Cardiff-based architecture practice. Here, Davies reveals why Japanese brutalist architecture informs his work and how a less-is-more approach is his preferred design philosophy.

Who and what inspires you?

I’m inspired by pretty much everything; life inspires me. Traveling is where I get most of my inspiration, from the busy back streets of Barcelona to the colossal towering architecture of Tokyo. I try and seek inspiration wherever I can. In terms of who, I would have to say Tadao Ando is a big inspiration on me and my work with his symbolic architecture that creates space with empowering and deep meaning in the hopes of spiritual enlightenment. His use of light and landscape is truly remarkable, where light and shadows cast throughout the day redefine spaces.

What is your favorite building and why?

My favorite building has to be the ‘Church of Light’ in Osaka, Japan, by Tadao Ando. After thoroughly researching Ando’s theories and architecture during university, I had a new-found appreciation for use of concrete and other simple, raw materials that contrast against the light and shadows of the space. Ando links nature and architecture together by creating focus on nature through picture-frame openings and drawing in light to create spiritual meaning. The use of concrete means that the spaces are void of all ornaments, which creates a meaningful, pure and unadorned space. This building is truly a reinforcement of Ando’s principal focus of simplicity and minimalist aesthetics to create meaningful sanctuaries and places of worship.

What is your favorite project you have worked on and why?

So many to choose from, but the office refurbishment for British charity Care for the Family would have to be my favorite so far. It’s a challenging brief and its Tetris-like requirement of achieving the client’s aspirations into an existing building has been my most enjoyable yet. Working with great clients who share an appreciation for design and the finer details has been a pleasure and it has allowed me to create something meaningful and motivating for the staff at Care for the Family.

Do you have a favorite quote?

“Architecture is a visual art and the buildings speak for themselves,” by American architect Julia Morgan.

What is the most satisfying part of being an architect?

To be able to improve places where we eat, sleep, work and learn is truly motivational and inspiring for me. To be able to interpret a client’s aspiration into a physical form is a skill I’m truly proud of.

How would you describe your design philosophy?

Simple, functional and inspirational tends to summarize my design style. I look to create designs that meet the needs of the client without complex forms or structures. My hope is that my designs will inspire those who reside within the space. Less is more is very much my way of thinking.

Images: ‘Church of Light’ in Osaka, Japan by Tadao Ando.