“Experience is at the intersection.” Australia-based Woods Bagot is committed to People Architecture. The architectural studio dates its origins back to over a century and a half ago. The joined forces of architects Edward John Woods and Walter Bagot formed the genesis of the global practice. The firm started with Woods getting commissioned to add his expertise on St. Peter’s Cathedral in Adelaide in 1869. In 1905, Bagot entered the alliance. 

What followed was the long-standing legacy as we know it today. All these years later, the studio came to be at the forefront of contemporary design!

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Woods Bagot Melbourne Studio | Woods Bagot_ ©Peter Bennetts

History of the Architectural Studio

Woods Bagot associated itself with numerous prominent architects through the history of its practice. Following Wood’s retirement in 1915, the studio was renamed several times. Architects like Louis Laybourne-Smith and James Campbell Irwin joined the team as senior and hence, name partners. Eventually, they went on to establish their practices. After the early years, the firm got registered as Woods Bagot Pty Ltd in 1996. Setting foot into the 21st century, it became one of the largest architectural firms on the international platform.

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Edward John Woods _ ©Cropped from http://collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/resource/B+11228
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Walter Bagot _ ©Woods Bagot: a practice for the people, Schiavello.com

Architectural Style and Philosophy

The studio of Woods Bagot has eloquently evolved while adapting to the ongoing architectural styles for over a century. The earliest work by the firm displays glimpses of classical and Gothic styles. The most notable examples include architectural marvels within the home city – the Bonython Hall and the National War Memorial. With steady growth, the reach of the studio expanded beyond the continent. Its architectural style diversified and revamped to pursue the contemporary themes that followed in the latter half of the 20th century. 

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St. Peter’s Cathedral at Adelaide – the first project by Woods Bagot _ ©Woods Bagot

As a global practice, Woods Bagot is known for its ethos of an empathetic approach to architecture. They define this approach by preaching architecture that may be revered for its service rather than the style. They cherish the experience they have with their clients. Moreover, the belief that this engagement helps them achieve their best work creates a sense of accountability for each project. The multi-authorship firm specializes in architecture, interiors, and master planning

Following the longevity and evolution of the practice, Woods Bagot celebrates diversity across different cultures with a proclivity to adapt. It currently has 17 fully operational studios in pivotal metropolitan cities spread over six regions. Located all across the world, the team responsibly developed universal criteria for evaluating empathy. Hence, the context, scale, diversity, inclusion, global impact, and narrative form the core principles of their approach. Ultimately, it forms a continuum of experience and innovation. 

Architectural Works Over the Years

Woods Bagot has stayed true to its code. Whether it is their practice in Australia, Asia, Europe, Middle East, or North America, they have placed human experience at the center of their work. Hence, the studio has produced future-oriented wonders of architecture that serve the communities through shared design knowledge. Over time, the classical styles transformed to adapt to the more progressive communities. Moreover, their engagement with diverse cultures adds to their philosophy. 

For instance, the design of a recent project of Nan Tien Institute in Wollongong reflects Buddhist teaching principles. Hence, the studio responsibly guides communities to a global platform through architecture. 

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Nan Tien Institute, Wollongong, Australia | Woods Bagot _ ©Peter Bennetts

As the world looked for more sustainable living solutions, Woods Bagot followed suit. They built some of their recent notable works on the themes of the natural world. The SAHMRI building in Australia is a remarkable example. The exterior, inspired by a pine cone, acts as a living skin for passive solar performance. Elsewhere, the Adelaide Convention Centre references local geological forms and places the communities within the most familiar environments.

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SAHMRI Building | Woods Bagot _ ©Peter Clarke

Latest Developments and the Way Forward

In recent times, the early works by Woods Bagot came back into focus. The studio celebrated 150 years of its inception at its very first projectthe St. Peter’s Cathedral! While the commencement of a legacy reminds the studio of how long they have come, the architects at Woods Bagot look towards the future. Grant Boshard, the principal architect at the Perth office, exclaims how they continuously question their work, their structuring, and their desire to refine.

To keep innovation at its core, Woods Bagot deals with complexity in People Architecture. They become a multi-disciplinary practice. Therefore, they use this to bridge the gap between creativity and consulting. Collaboration with data scientists, strategists, and experienced designers puts Woods Bagot at the vanguard for the future of cities and the lives they inhabit. To move with the tech-based pace of the 21st century, the studio employs data analytics. Evidence-based tools pitch in the process of developing newer methods to ideate and test designs. Case in point, their latest initiativeSUPERSPACEquantifies the user experience and provides scientific rigor to their design process.

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Woods Bagot SUPERSPACE Layout to Optimize Workplace Design _ ©SUPERSPACE WX Layout | Woods Bagot

Eventually, the practice of Woods Bagot envisions their work at the scale of global impact. They wish to strive for environmental, social, and economic sustainability through their well-curated strategies. Their ethos propagates building a positive future for local and global communities. Setting up their base at diverse ends of the planet, they successfully pave the path to move in the right direction. 

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Woods Bagot Global Reach through 17 Studios _ ©Woods Bagot

An architecture student who finds architecture to be a continuous process of pushing boundaries, to make the world grow around and about it. She strives to read and understand the dialogue that occurs between architecture and the lives of people connected to it.