Talking Careers

Words by Christian Grennan 

Published on: Co-Architecture -

Why did you choose architecture as a career?

I wasn’t one of those people who definitely knew what I wanted to do at 18 years of age. Many of my most interesting friends still don’t know what they want to do and they are closer to retirement than to starting their first career.

I enjoyed making things, working with my hands, problem solving and was reasonably good academically. My family were always building houses or renovating. My brother was a builder and I worked for him occasionally so I had a vague idea of what architects do so I thought that being and architect could make sense and I could be out in the world and not always be stuck behind a desk. In retrospect I have since spent a lot of interesting hours behind a desk and a few less ‘out in the world’.

Where was your first architecture job?

My first architecture Job was with Hassell in the Sydney Studio as a student. I took half year off after three years of study to get a more experience. It was a great experience, and they were very generous. I worked really long hours as I desperately wanted to learn. As a consequence, I was allowed to work on some really interesting projects, and it was a massive benefit when finishing my study and getting work later.

Best piece of advice you could give to job seekers who are currently looking / applying for roles?

For recent graduates make sure you have some work experience not just study. Working anywhere is better than nothing. Always try to work for people you respect. Don’t tell people you think they are amazing and you have been following them for years and then turn up for an interview and not know anything about them. Be yourself, be honest and put your best foot forward.

The biggest mistake applicants make with their job applications?

Your portfolio must look great. If you can’t present your work well, how do you expect to re-present your employer well.

YrdPod Launch

Hello from KGA,

We are super excited to be launching our YrdPod tiny houses range this weekend. The Kreis Grennan designed and built a prototype of the YrdPod L+, which was completed a couple of month ago. Following this the website was launched this week - and we have started taking orders.

What are YrdPods?
It’s a Pod located in a Yard! The dictionary defines a Pod as: streamlined enclosure, housing, or detachable container of some kind; and Yard as: a piece of enclosed ground adjoining or surrounding a house or other building.

We have designed the YrdPods as small, architectural buildings providing a flexible addition to a space, in either an urban or rural setting. If you are interested in getting your own YrdPod as a backyard studio, guest room or even an off-grid cabin in a rural location get in touch with us and we’ll send you more information.

There are currently three standard YrdPods available in S, M and L sizes, with the S+ being able to fit into the smallest of urban backyards. The Pods can be fully customised in size, features, fixtures and finishes and personalised based on your requirements, site location and expectations. 

Read more…

Spring News 2019

Hello from KGA,

Greetings from Kreis Grennan Architecture. It has been a while since our last email newsletter and we have many new and exciting things to talk about. We are super thrilled to show you the first images of the YardPod prototype, a KGA initiative for a standardised tiny house design and construction, providing smart and affordable architecture for urban backyards. 

There has been much talk about Passive House designs in recent times. We attended the Sydney launch of the first passive house apartment development in Australia and were impressed with what we saw. We thought it may a good opportunity to explain what Passive House means.

Read more 

Christmas News 2018

A warm hello from KGA,

Summer has returned to Australia a few weeks ago, Christmas in on our doorstep and it’s once again time for our bi-annual newsletter. Nearing the end of 2018, we are looking back at a successful year at Kreis Grennan Architecture….

Read the newsletter here

Balancing Act

Home Design Editorial

How do you renovate a historic property without compromising its unique character? The transformation of a 200-year-old Sydney townhouse may just have the answer… Read more

Words: Alice Griffin

Photography: Douglas Frost 

Lincoln House

The Local Project: The Lincoln House by Kreis Grennan Architecture is the transformation of a dark and dilapidated one-storey terrace in the Sydney suburb of Stanmore into a beautiful modern three storey family home.

KGA wanted to create a space that was open and unconfined, a design brief that is quite rare amongst Sydney terrace homes. Initially a question was raised as to whether the clients should renovate the existing home or demolish and start again from scratch. KGA quickly discovered that the existing building had been unequivocally damaged by years of neglect. The existing structure could not be reused and all the timber had to be replaced. KGA decided to create a design that featured a limited renovation that would retain the traditional details at the front of the home, the majority of the existing walls and recycle the bricks.

Read more…

The Local Project

The existing home presented itself as a freestanding cottage located between a commercial building and a car park. The Federation-style period features were well preserved, creating a beautiful historical insight into Sydney’s inner-west past.

Several beautiful trees stand in the rear garden of the adjoining site, providing a pleasant outlook and shelter from the summer sun. KGA’s brief was to provide considerable additional floor space and amenities for the existing occupants. Their design response protected the four traditional rooms at the front of the home.

Read more

Brick Aperture House provides a window to Sydney’s past

A single storey house in Petersham sits on a small lot in an intact row of period houses. The dwelling presents itself as a freestanding cottage forming a pair with an identical neighbour, bookended by a commercial building and a car park. The Federation-style period features are well-preserved and provide historic value of Sydney’s Inner West past. Several beautiful trees stand in the rear garden of the adjoining site, providing a pleasant outlook and shelter from the summer sun. 

Continue reading

Christmas Newsletter 2017

A warm hello from KGA,

Summer has arrived in Australia just in time for a warm Christmas break and time for BBQs and the beach. We are looking back at a successful 2017, having completed a number of successful projects. Below are some updates and news from the past 6 months.

We would like to thank you for helping to make 2017 a fantastic year for KGA and wish our clients, consultants, suppliers and friends a relaxing Christmas break and a successful start into 2018.

Read our Newsletter here

Custom Joinery Utilises Every Inch

Extensive bespoke storage throughout this inner-city family home ensures it stays uncluttered despite its four residents

Editorial by Houzz, November 2017

Having lived in a New York apartment for the last twenty years, this Australian family were keen to return home, find a house with a back yard so they could re-establish their love for the BBQ, and set down roots with their two young children. Prior to them heading back, they purchased a run down period home in NSW, with the plan to renovate it into a wonderfully versatile and practical family home. Thanks to Houzz and other internet searches, the couple discovered the work of Chris Kreis from Kreis Grennan Architects, and approached his practice to oversee the project while they continued living in New York. ‘They had to put their full trust in our judgements,’ explains Chris Kreis,’ They were unable to visit the property or evaluate fixtures and fittings first hand, so all decisions fell to us.’


Newsletter - Winter 2017

Hello from KGA,

It’s been a few month since our last email newsletter in December 2016 - and we are already heading fast towards the halfway mark of 2017 and the end of the financial year. How quickly time flies, especially when being so busy crafting great spaces for people to live, work and be.

In this email newsletter I write about some exciting new projects we are currently working on and new initiatives from our government to fast track greenfield developments and make our suburbs greener and climate friendly.

Towards the end of last year I wrote about exciting new Mass Timber Buildings. As of last month, Sydney has now its first commercial mass timber building, the International House Sydney. 

Click to read the newsletter 

Houzz Award: Best of Service

Kreis Grennan Architecture of Sydney - Awarded Best Of Houzz 2017

Sydney, Australia, January 19, 2017 – Kreis Grennan Architecture of Sydney has won “Best Of Service” on Houzz®, the leading platform for home renovation and design. The award-winning and design-driven studio was chosen by the more than 40 million monthly unique users that comprise the Houzz community from among more than one million active home building, renovation and design industry professionals. 

The Best Of Houzz is awarded annually in three categories: Design, Service and Photography. Design award winners’ work was the most popular among the more than 40 million monthly users on Houzz. Customer Service honours are based on several factors, including the number and quality of client reviews a professional received in 2016. Architecture and interior design photographers whose images were most popular are recognised with the Photography award. A “Best Of Houzz 2017” badge will appear on winners’ profiles, as a sign of their commitment to excellence. These badges help homeowners identify popular and top-rated home professionals in every metro area on Houzz. 

“We’re so pleased to award Best of Houzz 2017 to this incredible group of talented and customer-focused professionals, including Kreis Grennan Architecture,” said Jason Chuck, Managing Director Houzz Asia-Pacific. “Each of these businesses was singled out for recognition by our community of homeowners and design enthusiasts for helping to turn their home improvement dreams into reality.”

Follow Kreis Grennan Architecture
on Houzz

About KGA

Kreis Grennan Architecture is a
multi-disciplinary, award-winning design studio. From individual residences to
diverse urban infill sites and multi-unit apartment developments, we create
functional and refreshing designs with a unique perspective.

About Houzz

Houzz is the leading platform for home renovation and
design, providing people with everything they need to improve their homes from
start to finish – online or from a mobile device. With the largest residential
design database in the world and a vibrant community empowered by technology,
Houzz is the easiest way for people to find inspiration, get advice, source
products and hire the professionals they need to help turn their ideas into
reality. Headquartered in Palo Alto, CA, Houzz also has international offices
in London, Berlin, Sydney, Moscow and Tokyo. Houzz and the Houzz logo are
registered trademarks of Houzz Inc. worldwide. For more information, visit

The Missing Middle - Medium Density Housing

The NSW state government has launched a design competition for architects to showcase their vision for the future of medium density housing in NSW.

Named ‘The Missing Middle’, the competition is seeking creative ideas for high-quality and innovative design solutions for low-rise medium density housing. The accommodation should provides an alternative residential housing option to bridge the gap between freestanding houses and residential flat buildings, such as terrace dwellings, town houses and dual occupancies. Read more about the design competition.

An estimated 4.7 million people lived in the Sydney Metropolitan area in 2016, which is forecasted to grow by 1.7 million in 20 years, to a total of over 6.4 million residents. The department of planning estimates almost 600,000 dwellings are required to be built by 2036 to accommodate the almost 40% population boost. Considering this, we seriously need to look at providing a broader range of medium density housing options.

In October 2016 the Department of Planning & Environment has also released a draft ‘Medium Density Design Guide’ which aims to improve the quality of design for low rise medium density housing across NSW. Read more about the draft paper or download the Medium Density Design Guide.

As outlined in the Explanation of Intended Effect, the new Medium Density Housing Code will enable the delivery of a range of low rise medium density housing as complying development. If finalised, this will allow complying development schemes for medium density housing, such as duplexes, terrace and manor homes. This will provide a straightforward and much faster approval process to assist with the demand for increased housing supply and choice.

KGA agrees with the need for planning reform in Medium Density Housing. We are currently working on a project to torrens title subdivide a large lot of land into small lots with quality architectural freestanding dwellings.

Why Should I Use an Architect to Administer the Construction?

If you are planning to save money by limiting the architect’s involvement during construction, you are likely to pay more in time, money and frustration and may not get the quality you have paid for in the design stage.

If considering engaging an architect, partially or not at all, our clients need to be aware that contract administration is essential if they want a good result. Contract administration puts in place a mechanism for architects to assist those who are new to the project to achieve the desired result.

Engaging a proactive architect will limit variation charges and increases in construction cost, by both seeing potential issues before they occur and by understanding if a claimed variation is actually a variation or simply something the builder has missed in the short time they examined the documentation during tender. 

Our engagement during construction administration means we; 

  • liaise with the builder to assess the quality of work at key stages and ensure the contract and specification are delivered. 
  • keep you informed of progress and let you know when key decisions need to be made.
  • provide clarification or more information when the contractor requires it - we also ensure the design intent is followed.
  • verify and approve variations in price or time delay - and ensure you are not overcharged.
  • check and certify progress payment to the builder.
  • ensure provisional sums are correctly accounted for.
  • identify defects and administer their rectification.
  • handle any disputes between the builder and yourself by assessing the differing claims according to the contract.
  • advise you when practical completion occurs.

Engaging an architect in the construction phase means you can sleep better knowing you get what you paid for. It also significantly reduces your time spent on the construction site, so you can focus on your family, lifestyle and business. 

A few common misconceptions: 

The builder will figure it out; it’s their job.

Builders want to build, they do not want to solve problems on site in a last minute conversation with the owner. If the architect is not around, the owner will need to answer questions. As the builder can’t afford to have people standing around, a quick decision will need to be made. And it will need to be the right one.

If both the architect and the contractor are present, I have to pay twice!

The builder and architect perform different roles. The architect acts as your agent, representing you on site, making sure that the design intent and documentation is followed during construction. This requires a great deal of coordination and cooperation from both parties.

Builders don’t like architects to be on the construction site. 

Some contractors may prefer not to have an architect engaged, but this may not be of the best interest for the owner.  For example, if the architect is not around it’s easier to substitute materials, not follow the documentation, and claim work as a variation that is clearly specified in the contract documents. 

Good builders prefer to have the architect on site to answer questions, give instructions and have a professional and informed point of contact to make design decisions if required. 

Contractors know all drawings and documentation.

While some contractors are great at building, they sometimes lack the diligence of reading all drawings and construction documentation. What sometimes appear to be a small detail on paper, can lead to a bit issue on site, and if not picked up on time, can result in a large cost variation to the construction. 

The architect knows and understands every detail in a project. minimises errors and foresees possible issues. This ensures the construction runs smooth, saving money and time for all parties involved. 

The owner will oversee the construction. 

If you pay for an architectural design, you are getting considered and carefully crafted plans. If you then remove the architect from construction, do you really know that you are getting what you have paid for in the plans? The builder may decide to substitute a material or finishes, which may then change the overall quality or aesthetic of the design. Are you able to make this assessment and decisions?

Each time you instruct the builder to change a detail, he will charge a variation to the contract for their time, material cost and margin. Changing your mind or fixing a wrong decision can quickly add considerable cost and become very expensive.

The owner can build it themselves.

Becoming an owner-builder is a viable option, but unless the owner has extensive construction experience - or time and spare money to learn from mistakes, it may be best to leave it to the professionals. 

Thinking of getting into Property Development?

We frequently get asked how to get started with property development, not only to become successful, but also make a difference and money at the same time. Property development can be very lucrative, but making mistakes can be very costly and painful. 

While KGA can assist you with design feasibilities, concept designs, development applications and town planning advice, there are many other important aspects, such as site sourcing, financing, negotiations, etc. for successful property developers must manage. 

Jim Castagnet runs highly educational Property Development Workshops, where he shares his knowledge and experiences. Having personally completed his workshop a few years ago, we can recommend the program to people who want to get into the property development game. 

For the clients and friends of KGA, they have provided us with a mini online course to share with you. If you are interested in the program, you should attend a free introductory sessions on 23 September 2016 in Sydney and 28 October 2016 in Melbourne. Click here to register and have your registration fee waived.

Mass Timber Buildings

Large timber buildings are capturing the imagination of architects and developers around the world. The breakthrough in new ‘Mass Timber’ materials allow engineers to use timber in high rise building, whilst maintaining the same standards for safety and performance as a traditional concrete or steel building type.

Mass timber is a category of super-strong wood framing using CLT (Cross Laminated Timber) or Glulam (Glue Laminated Timber), which is a reliable and a suitable replacement for concrete, steel or masonry construction in some construction application. Using timber as the primary building material lessens the carbon footprint of the built environment and allows for a more cost-competitive, carbon efficient and sustainable construction. Whilst timber buildings are not new, the new technologies allow them to be used in taller buildings with increased efficiency. 

Sydney’s first timber office block at Barangaroo is due to be completed in 2017 and residents of London are due to get a new addition to their skyline with an 80-storey, 300m tall tower, nicknamed the Toothpick (pictured above), it will be made almost entirely from timber. Read more how timber buildings will change our future skyline

 KGA in collaboration with Marra + Yeh have submitted a pitch to Byron Shire Council for a timber built, mixed-use development containing commercial and short term holiday rental accommodation. The design will be a climate-responsive and high energy efficient building. Stay tuned in future emails for progress on this exciting project.

KGA is hiring!

Kreis Grennan is seeking to expand our team with a full-time Graduate Architect / Project Architect position. 

Candidates must have the ability to be an active collaborator, a creative designer and a smart project manager. You should bring independence, initiative, creative thinking, enthusiasm, punctuality and attention to detail.

Minimum Requirements:

  • Three years professional experience; preferred five years. 
  • Proficiency in Vectorworks, Sketch-Up is a plus
  • Understanding of construction documentation and detailing.
  • Excellent communication and client management skills.
  • Working knowledge of relevant standards and codes, e.g. NCC, Standards and Council Planning Controls, etc

 To be considered you must be eligible to work in Australia. 

Salary is negotiable and will be based on experience. Please send your letter of interest and credentials (CV and portfolio) to

 Only applicants under consideration will receive a reply.