MFx16: Meet Kendall Claus


Kendall Claus
Master of Architecture
The University of Texas at Austin, 2016
Bachelor of Arts in Architecture
Miami University, 2011

What motivated you to study architecture?
A combination of influences in my life motivated me to study architecture. The first and most influential being that my dad is a City Planner. My family and I moved to Oklahoma City in 1995 after the OKC bombing. My Dad was placed in charge of cleaning up and re-organizing the city. He eventually became the Director of City Planning and helped rebuild Oklahoma City for almost 15 years. Now he is the Director of City Planning in Rockhampton, Australia. As young as 6 I remember feeling the impact of his role and the impact of architecture on society.

The second influence was art. I have always been in a studio, whether it be an art studio or architecture one. These unique environments have always stimulated me. I see great influence in my architecture from art. I always begin my projects with a piece of art.

Do you have your own research or focus within architecture?
Yes. I received a travel scholarship last summer to pursue independent research pertaining to architecture’s needed evolution in response to climate change, specifically focusing on the threat of flooding. Most reconstruction in areas affected by natural disasters replicates pre-storm conditions. Claims for doing so are centralized around affordability; however, the economic damage caused by these events far exceeds the cost required to re-build. I feel a responsibility, as an architectural designer, to confront these problems and change the paradigm.

I have focused my studies in Australia due to my connection with the region and its particular vulnerability to the effects of climate change. Last summer I spent much time examining and drawing inspiration from the local residential vernacular in Queensland as well as indigenous architecture. My perception is that residential architecture in Australia, similar to America, has devolved. Society’s connection with nature has digressed as the complexity of people’s lives has progressed, therefore affecting people’s understanding of how to build effectively and sustainably. The construction and composition of historical vernacular houses is more suitable to withstand intensive storms than modern ones.

Glenn Murcutt Master Claus, Australia.

Glenn Murcutt Master Claus, Australia.

What inspires you?
Spaces and places which make a difference in people's lives. I don't believe the prima donna archetype brings any value to society. Having traveled a lot I've observed the most valuable spaces are those which fit in with their surroundings, which respect the culture, the physical context, and the architectural typologies surrounding. These are the spaces that are truly lived in.

What is currently your favorite building, park/garden, interior, and installation?
The Contemporary Arts Centre by ICA Arquitectura, Madrid, Spain. This building was previously an abandoned industrial building and now serves as a forum for cultural activities. The renovation concept is based on a system of double-height steel-pivoted doors that can be adjusted to define and enclose different space configurations − for instance, a neutral void for art installations, or a hall for concerts and performances.

Art + Architecture

Art + Architecture

How do you feel architecture improves the world or solves a problem?
We make a significant impact on the human and natural environments. People spend 90% of their time indoors, therefore architecture plays a very important role in people's lives. As architects, we have a responsibility to create healthy, inspiring, liveable spaces. We also have a responsibility to respect our given resources. I take much inspiration from Glenn Murcutt, who believes it doesn't take much (in terms of material and energy use) to create significant, well-loved architecture. 

What do you like doing aside from architecture?
I draw, paint, play the guitar... but most recently I've gotten into printmaking. I'm currently taking a silkscreen class and I LOVE IT. The creation process is so much more intensive then I expected. It requires a lot of planning, which I'm used to, so it suites me well. I am working on a project right now which involves photo emulsion, a process similar to film production. You use light to expose an image onto the screen to make a stencil. The photo emulsion hardens where light hits it and will wash away where light doesn't hit it (leaving an image behind).