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Getting to know Cherry Williamson

Architect and UON alumna Cherry Williamson recently returned from the Dulux Study Tour 2014, visiting leading global architecture and design firms in Chicago and New York.

After completing a Bachelor of Science (Architecture) in 2004, Cherry received a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Newcastle in 2007, graduating with first class honours and receiving the University Medal. She currently works at CKDS Architecture on the Central Coast.

Cherry tells us how her interest in building and architecture from a young age led to a career that has taken her all over the world.

Tell us about your background, including what drew you into architecture?

I grew up on a rural property in the Bega Valley, on the Far South Coast of NSW. It was here as a bright-eyed toddler that I was first introduced to the building site; eagerly watching on as my dad built our mud-brick home. Lego and tree houses soon became a favourite childhood pastime, and in 2002 I found myself enrolling in Architecture at the University of Newcastle.

Following graduation in 2007, I traveled to Papua New Guinea to partake in a 2-month Design-Build Community Development Project. Upon return, I moved to Sydney where I spent 4 years working with renowned architecture firm, Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp.

Returning to Newcastle in 2012, I began working with local firm CKDS Architecture as well as co-founded EmAGN Newcastle (Emerging Architects and Graduates Network), a sub-committee of the Australian Institute of Architects which aims to generate public discourse and foster a culture of architecture and design within our demographic.

You’ve just returned from the Dulux Study Tour 2014. Can you tell us a little about how the opportunity came about?

The Dulux Study Tour is a highly competitive program offered each year by the Australian Institute of Architects and sponsored by Dulux. It provides five emerging architects with the opportunity to travel together and visit emerging and established practices and significant architectural sites throughout the world.

This year I was fortunate enough to be selected along with emerging architects from Sydney and Melbourne. Together, we travelled to Chicago and New York on a ten-day tour-de-architecture, visiting notable practices such as SHoP, SOM, Diller Scofidio Renfro and iconic works including the Mies Van Der Rohe’s Farnsworth House, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water and Phillip Johnson’s Glass House.

What are you passionate about? Can others in the community get involved?

My involvement with EmAGN Newcastle is reflective of my passion for advancement and advocacy of architecture within the public realm. Together with the EmAGN Newcastle Committee, we inititiate and organise events that bring together emerging architects and graduates with students, professionals and the broader community. More information on EmAGN Newcastle and the respective state and territory groups can be found here.

Do you draw on any people or resources for inspiration?

I have been fortunate over the years to be surrounded by inspirational friends and colleagues. These friendships have opened up doors for exciting collaboration and involvement in a number of community development projects both locally and abroad. As designers, we are on the constant look out for new ideas and inspiration. Architectural books, magazines and online resources are a priceless tool.  

What’s been the most unexpected aspect of your work so far?

An exciting and unexpected aspect of my work so far would have to be the level of diversity and endless career paths available within the ’field of architecture’. The challenge is paving that way for yourself.

What’s been your proudest achievement to date?

My proudest achievement to date would have to be my selection on the Dulux Study Tour – a truly unforgettable experience.

What would be your dream project?

As part of my final year design at University, I proposed a harbour market and cooking school and community gardens at Carrington Pump House. It would be a dream to see this project realised and the harbourfront revitalised.  

What does the future hold?

The Dulux Study tour was an amazing opportunity to learn from fellow emerging architects and reflect on personal influences and areas of interest. Since graduation, my involvement with community development projects and EmAGN Newcastle has led to an interest in urban design, placemaking and architectural advocacy. The intersection of these fields and where this may take me at this point remains unknown. Watch this space…

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What’s your favourite Newcastle area and why?

My favourite area(s) of Newcastle would have to be those ’undiscovered’ and ’hidden’ spaces such as rear laneways, ex-industrial sites abandoned buildings. I am particularly fond of the Carrington Pump House which stands neglected – yet has so much potential.

Can you name a local hero?

I am not sure that hero would be the right term, however Marcus Westbury is an inspirational local figure, most notably for the work he has done with Renew Newcastle to empower the community in revitalising our city.

What do you look forward to doing most in Newcastle over summer?

Visiting Newcastle’s unspoilt beaches would definitely have to be a summer highlight of mine. There is nothing better on a hot summer’s day.

And winter?

In winter months when the beach isn’t calling, I enjoy cycling along the Fernleigh Track and into town to meet friends for coffee.

Where and what was the last greatest meal you had in Newcastle?

In 2012 I visited Naples, Italy and was introduced to (what lived up to it’s title as) the ’world’s best pizza’. Recently, when I heard about Napoli Centrale opening in Newcastle I was eager to re-live that moment. It may not have been the world’s best but it was definitely Newcastle’s best!

Your favourite getaway destination?

Treachery Beach would definitely have to be at the top of my list for weekend getaways. Having grown up camping with my family, I embrace any opportunity to dust off the old tent and get back to basics.

Your #1 Newcastle insiders tip?

I can’t give away all my tips…

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To read more about the Dulux Study Tour 2014, visit their blog here.


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