Alumni in Focus: Matthew Alfred
Matthew is a graduate of the School of Architecture and Built Environment, currently working at ARM Architecture’s Adelaide office and was recently awarded the notable 2020 Jack Hobbs McConnell Travelling Fellowship.
What are your hobbies?
I read often and widely. Architects have to be the ‘Jack of all Trades’ in a way, I’ve really taken that to heart and try to consume as much information about everything. I also play guitar when I get the chance and my COVID hobby has been learning to play piano. Although that took a sharp decline when my free piano app trial ran out.
Favourite place to eat when in Adelaide
I’m a huge pizza guy. Most people I know would’ve heard me say “You can’t make a bad Pizza (just spoil a good one with pineapple)”. So anywhere that serves a good pizza, I’m in. Personal favourite would be Chicco Palms out by the airport.
If I could go back to my University days I would...
There are a lot of things that I could have done better. Been more efficient, explored more avenues, or better understood that there’s no one way of doing architecture. But I am the sum of my experiences, so I’d probably do it all the same.
Most prized possession
Probably my wedding ring. Apart from the obvious (I’m a pretty lucky guy), it was also designed to incorporate my late father’s wedding ring. So it has many layers of meaning to me.
I can’t get enough of...
Again, pizza comes to mind… I could also sit around literally all day watching sitcoms that I’ve seen 1000 times. I’m actually worried that Netflix knows how many times I’ve watched Community.
Something that makes you smile
My wife Soraia.
Something you are grateful for
My ability (usually) to travel. I never had the opportunity to travel outside of Australia growing up, so I take nothing for granted and soak up everything. When you’re open to it, travelling can introduce you to new ways of thinking, living, interacting with people. I can’t overstate the importance of that as a designer. And generally as a human, come to think of it.
If I could pursue a different career I would...
My favourite part of architecture is its social side; the way that it can affect people’s attitudes, moods, interactions with each other. In short it can make people’s lives better. If I had to choose something else, it would be something that explored similar themes. Or I’d hop a plane and go make wine in the French countryside. Pretty much the same thing, I guess.
The most valuable lesson I have learned
When I was learning to drive, my dad told me to assume that everyone else on the road is an idiot. Cynical perhaps, but when you take it on board, you kind of end up ready for anything.
I cannot get through the day without...
A little bit of time to myself. No matter how busy it gets, I always try to take half an hour read, play some music, stare wistfully out of a window, that kind of stuff.
Your definition of success
Success is living life the way that you want to live it, however you want to define it.
My mother taught me
That I could accomplish anything. Sure all parents say that, but she was pretty convincing. I can safely say that it got me to where I am now in life.
Your career path in two sentences or less
I kind of feel like I’m flying by the seat of my pants a lot of the time, but I’d like to continue advocating for the architecture industry as urban decision makers.
Biggest career highlight
I’ve been pretty lucky that each time I have a career highlight, it seems to be superseded by another. So I’d say my biggest highlight is the current one: being awarded the Jack Hobbs McConnell Travelling Fellowship. Once I’m finally allowed to leave the country I’m sure it will only lead to more great things, so watch this space I guess.
How I relax
I like to walk a lot. Not hiking or anything as glamorous as that, I just walk in and out of work and try to go for a walk at lunch. I find it’s a great way to clear my mind or let my thoughts wander. Some of my best ideas come to me when I’m walking.
When I get home the first thing I do is
It’s a combination of let our dog Leia out, and tell her off for barking. They’re usually simultaneous.
The biggest risk I have taken
Immediately after graduating my (now) wife and I moved over to NYC with no jobs, no connections and, at the time, I'd never even travelled overseas. Luckily I had a solid education under my belt so everything worked out well.
Three words your closest friends would use to describe you
Pretty, Laid, Back.
A misconception about you
Probably that I’m pretty laid back. I think that’s a façade. I’m often a ball of anxiety (don’t tell my closest friends).