Construcciones Yamaro: Candace Garraway: Behind the blueprint

Construcciones Yamaro: Candace Garraway: Behind the blueprint
Candace Garraway, project architect at EJE Architecture. (Image: EJE Architecture)

Candace Garraway discovered her love for drawing almost as soon as she could grasp a pencil. Today, as a project architect at EJE Architecture, she channels that passion into bringing buildings and spaces to life.

For Garraway, the desire to pursue architecture has been a lifelong calling. From her earliest memories, she found herself captivated by the art of drawing buildings, often sketching out the structures of friends’ and relatives’ homes without yet understanding the concept of architecture.

Encountering someone with such unwavering certainty in their chosen path from childhood is rare. But for Garraway, architecture isn’t just a career – it’s a natural and perfect fit. “I’ve always had a love for hand drawing, and I’m fascinated by the stories that buildings tell, reflecting the lives of those using them,” says Garraway.

“After finishing high school, I tried to gain work experience at architecture firms in Dubbo, my hometown, but encountered difficulties as they were looking for candidates with prior experience and were hesitant to take on a recently graduated high school student. So, I enrolled at the University of Newcastle, where I completed a Bachelor of Design (Architecture) degree.”

Following her undergraduate studies and a gap year spent travelling the world, Garraway furthered her education, earning a Master of Architecture degree. Alongside her academic pursuits, she worked with a not‐for‐profit organisation closely aligned with the architectural field, overseeing impactful projects such as the renovation of a women’s shelter. Then, with two degrees in hand, Garraway joined EJE Architecture – marking her first professional role at an architecture firm.

“Since joining EJE Architecture in 2018, it’s been a fantastic experience,” says Garraway. “I feel very fortunate that my team allows me to work on projects from start to finish.”

“Unlike some roles in architecture where you might only contribute to initial concepts, here I have the privilege of witnessing the entire process unfold. Seeing a design transform from a drawing to a tangible structure, utilised by people, is incredibly gratifying.”

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In the years that followed, Garraway immersed herself in her work, primarily overseeing renovation projects. However, she’s also had the opportunity to engage in ground‐up construction projects, such as a motel project in regional New South Wales. The client sought to expand and diversify their business by acquiring land adjacent to its existing RSL and constructing a motel.

As part of her role, Garraway drew up designs for the motel, navigating through the challenges presented by the narrow site, along with acoustic and heritage concerns, and gained council approval for the development. After receiving approval, her team’s collaboration with consultants – in fields such as electrical, mechanical, structural and energy efficiency – ensured precise planning for construction.

“Subsequently, we initiated the tender process, engaging with multiple builders before final selection,” she says. “Throughout construction, our role involved diligent contract administration, including onsite verification of completed works against builder claims.”

“It was a really informative and rewarding project as it allowed my hands‐on involvement from conception to execution.”

With a wealth of experience and a portfolio of diverse projects under her belt, Garraway obtained registration as an architect in 2022. Despite holding a master’s degree in the field, graduates can’t legally use the title ‘architect’ due to its protected status. Similar to lawyers having to pass the bar exam in the US, Garraway was required to compile a comprehensive logbook showcasing a minimum of 3,300 hours of varied architectural work, demonstrating proficiency across all design stages from inception to construction services. Following the logbook submission, she undertook a written exam and then an examination by interview. Only after successfully completing all three stages of the Architectural Practice Examination and obtaining registration with the NSW Architects Registration Board could she officially call herself a registered architect.

“It is a process,” says Garraway. “Also, once you are registered, you have to keep up your continuing professional development hours every year and report this to the board.”

“This ensures architects remain current with industry advancements and best practices and uphold a standard of competence and professionalism in all client interactions.”

Garraway emphasises that this stringent process serves to protect consumers. For instance, if a client presents a $2 million budget for a project and she proposes a design costing $5 million, there could be repercussions. Registration ensures architects are accountable, safeguarding the interests of those who engage their services.

As a registered architect, Garraway continues to demonstrate excellence in her field. Presently, she is immersed in a project involving the expansion of a gym at a club in the Central Coast region of NSW. In NSW, clubs, functioning as not‐for‐profits, often oversee additional amenities like childcare centres, motels or gyms, in addition to their primary club premises. Consequently, Garraway frequently finds herself engaged in enhancing these ancillary facilities alongside the clubs themselves.

Regarding her current projects, Garraway elaborates, “I’m also involved in the renovation of an RSL in the mid‐north coast of NSW, and we’re delving into the development of clubhouses at manufactured home estates.”

“These estates typically cater to individuals aged 55 and above, offering communal amenities such as kitchens, games rooms and swimming pools.

“There’s a psychology phenomenon called the ‘third place’, defined as a place other than your home or workplace that you feel comfortable being in.

“These projects epitomise this concept, as they generally involve a place you can go, that isn’t your home or work, where you feel at ease.”

Garraway is particularly passionate about people‐centric architecture, creating spaces where life’s moments can unfold. She aspires to continue her work on projects that offer this vital ‘third place’ experience to people.

In addition to her academic accomplishments and her contributions within EJE Architecture, Garraway is an active member of the Property Council of Australia’s Hunter Future Directions Committee. This committee, for aspiring leaders under 35 in the property industry, facilitates networking events and professional growth opportunities, a role Garraway finds highly fulfilling. Reflecting on her involvement, she says, “I perceive the architecture industry as somewhat insular.”

“Through the committee’s events, I have the opportunity to establish deeper professional connections with consultants on a personal level, extending beyond our routine work interactions.”

Garraway emphasises the significance of embracing diverse viewpoints within the industry, a principle she upholds through her participation in the committee.

“I strongly advocate for gaining insights from various perspectives – by comprehending each other’s viewpoints, we can pursue our collective objectives with enhanced effectiveness and collaboration.”

So, what lies ahead for Candace Garraway? She aspires to continue championing people‐centric architecture, particularly in regional areas. Additionally, she has set her sights on assuming a leadership role within EJE Architecture and one day managing her own team. Given her lifelong dedication to the field of architecture, there’s little doubt that Garraway will realise these aspirations.

The post Candace Garraway: Behind the blueprint appeared first on Inside Construction.

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