Totalspace Design is deliberately small with a team made up of a team of design professionals covering the full spectrum of architecture, project management and interior design expertise.
Our team is made up of professionals that bring different, yet complementary, skills to every design task. This approach ensures the design planning is as individual as the client and can deliver clever and unpredictable design solutions to meet the client’s brief and budget.
Sarah Paddick’s architectural journey began more than 20 years ago, when she was a fresh university graduate. Inspired by her previous employer’s decision to outsource architecture and design work, she and two colleagues – Diana Brown and Michael Dodd – decided to go in their own direction and established Totalspace Design. They continued the usual government work that was done through the previous company, but their new main focus was towards independence. “We were able to flow on the jobs that we were working on, and the clients that we had through the design office within government, and start taking on those clients as an independent contractor,” she says. “We still maintain a relatively large base of government work, so we’ve kept those contacts over the years.”
Currently, Totalspace Design provides their services to educational facilities and government office accommodation facilities, with one of their niche areas in what Paddick refers to as “secure architecture.” They provide both architecture and interior design services, with additional residential and commercial arms within their office as well. “We place a great emphasis on making spaces that are both useable and beautiful – it’s never any good to have one or the other. So, it’s always a real challenge to make sure that spaces function well and suit the needs of the client. We like to use the term ‘reverse engineering.’ We don’t take a design to a client and expect them to modify the way they work with that design. We use how the client works and try to come up with a design that suits their operational requirements. Certainly, within the correctional facilities design that’s important; they obviously have really specific operational requirements and we need to make sure our design suits those. So, it’s a real emphasis in those types of projects.”
Totalspace Design takes care to meet the needs of their clients while also considering the sustainability factor for each project. Materials and design principles are planned meticulously from every angle and are site-specific. Passive heating and cooling, natural ventilation, and low-energy materials are incorporated as a matter of course. Accessibility is also a key factor in the design process. “Because we do a lot of government work, we’re often working with clients and users that have special needs,” says Paddick. “We’ve done a number of school facilities where we’re often creating access-compliant entrances and sanitary facilities. It’s one of those things that’s sort of just become part of what an architect does in modern-day design. You’re always considering the requirements of all aspects of the population. It’s always fascinating to have a slightly different requirement put on as part of the brief, and users with special needs is one of those things.”
Now the sole Director of the business, Paddick still works hard to maintain the basis of teamwork upon which Totalspace Design laid its initial foundation. Her vision is to create a working environment that allows staff to grasp their independence as designers, while also being able to try their hand at more than one sector of the job. “I like to see that they’re getting experience and being involved in the full scope of a project,” she says. “I’m really keen to make sure that all my designers and staff are able to be fully involved in their own projects and take ownership of that. To that end, we’ve stayed relatively small in the sense that we haven’t tried to increase in size to be able to go on the larger projects. We prefer to have projects that can be run by one to two people within the office so that those people can have complete ownership of those projects. So, I suppose, we’d consider ourselves to specialise in smaller projects, and have that one-on-one relationship with the client throughout the project from start to finish. I think we really want to emphasise that personal aspect of design – it’s something that we like to think sets us apart.
I’ve had the same core group of staff over the last 10-15 years. We’ve added people to that, and obviously the ones that fit in stay; it’s really very much a collaborative environment where we’re all friends as well as co-workers, and there’s a considerable amount of support. I think that fostering of independence within staff makes my designers and staff happy to work here, because they can see that they’re fulfilling their personal goals. So, that’s something that I think is really important. Certainly, with suppliers and clients, we all love what we do and I think that flows through to how we deal with people. If you’re enjoying your work, and you enjoy what you do, then you gravitate towards people who are the same; they’re the kind of people we like to foster relationships with, and a lot of our clients are repeat clients. There’s a considerable level of trust, and that’s something that I think is very important with an architect and client relationship.”
Within the next decade, Paddick believes that the impact of climate change on society itself will, consequently, have a significant impact on the architect and design industry and its relative trades. “Certainly, the construction industry will be very much changed by it. But, also socially, the landscape’s going to change considerably with priorities and what we think’s important in society. Architecture and design is one of those things that sometimes waxes and wanes – changes as society changes. I think architects need to move with that and make sure that they maintain their importance within the design process.”
About six years ago, through her receipt of the Catherine Helen Spence Memorial Scholarship, she was able to undertake a research study and expand public knowledge of residential parenting programs in prisons. She hopes to continue this research into the future, influencing progression of architecture and design in the correctional sector. “I have 20 years’ experience and it’s a point in my career where I feel like I really can call myself an architect. It takes a while within this industry to actually get your confidence and your stripes, so to speak.
Architecture is very much about experience and, only recently, I’ve gotten to a point where I’m completely confident in my field – particularly in the area of secure facility design. I feel that I’ve reached a point where I’ve achieved a lot in that area and I’m looking forward to the next phase where, hopefully, I’ll be able to be involved in some different projects within that sector, because I’ve built up a reputation within the space. Totalspace Design is starting to be known within that secure facility space, so that’s been exciting.”
Sarah Paddick, Daryl Talbot
Interior Design team
Mary Pappas, Jarred Vermeeren, Sue Chin-Smith