Interview with Super Colossal

Marcus Trimble established Sydney based Architecture firm Super Colossal in June 2007.  Trimble is a tutor in design at the University of Sydney.  Additional to running a successful architecture firm and blog, he is actively involved with the Australian Institute of Architects, where he is a member of DARCH – a group of committed architecture geeks that run competitions, public forums and slide nights.

In 2009 Trimble was named one of Sydney’s Creative Catalysts – a collection of 100 of the city’s top creative pioneers – as part of the Creative Sydney festival.

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Archi-ninja Interviews Super Colossal

1. Which of your projects has been the most rewarding and why?

MT: For sheer speed of production, the cardboard cubby house that we made a few years back was very satisfying. It had a one week lifecycle from been installed at a trade show for a couple of days, then reassembled in my niece’s backyard where it sat until it rained, slumped and fell, and was recycled.

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2. Super Colossal recently won the Gold Coast Cultural Precinct Masterplan, what was unique about your proposal and in what way does it contribute to area?

MT: Our proposal looked to the existing urban characteristics of the Gold Coast – high rise strip along the beach backed by a system of man made canals – and proposed a new canal that would cut the site off from the mainland, creating a new island as a byproduct. This island then is a discrete precinct dedicated to civic activity, and the part of the site attached to the mainland given over to parkland.

Goldcoast and Cultural and Civic Precinct Masterplan

3. How do you think architecture will change in the next 50 years?

MT: Architecture will go through its motions, new tricks will be learnt and exploited. Old tricks will continue to serve us well.

Architects and architecture offices, however, are more likely to undergo radical change in the next 50 years than buildings are. Architects will likely become further removed from the decision making procees and will see their responsibilities diminished as more and more branching specialist consultancies stake their territory. On the other hand, architects will find opportunities to engage in the environment in increasingly diverse ways.

The design and documentation of buildings will be a small component of the typical architecture office in 50 years time.

4. What changes would you like to see in the Architectural profession?

MT: I would like to see  a profession that is more united and open with one another. I think that this is starting to happen in Sydney, with younger offices being very supportive of each other and being much more engaged with each other’s practice through blogs, twitter and so on.

5. Do you think that Architecture tends to be trendy today?

MT: Architectural image making is susceptible to trends given the tools now available and the easy distribution model that design and architecture blogs offer. Architecture itself has such a long gestation period that more often than not it resists trends, or the trends get so watered down by the design by committee model that dominates building that only the most resilient ideas survive.

And architecture is rarely (ever?) a trending topic on twitter.

6. What would students learn from reviewing the body of architectural projects you have completed? Do you have any advice for upcoming students?

MT: I would hope that there would be a clarity present in our projects. And optimism. My advice to students is to travel, to study the great cities and works of architecture around the world.

7. What are you most proud of in your career or any aspect of life?

MT: Being in business three years later.

8. Who do you think is the most overrated architect, and who do you think deserves more credit/recognition?

MT: Not that they are overrated, but the rotating roster of El Croquis coverstars paints a picture that all good archtiecture is carried out by a handful of architects. Hopefully blogs and print on demand tech will help to broaden the scope of the canon and expose people to a far wider range of the excellent work that is out there.

As far as under-rated, the work that Paul Pholeros is doing in indigenous communities in Australia is incredible.  It is an architecture of infrastructure where basic problems like a safe power supply and clean water and hygienic waste treatment yields substantial increases in the quality of health for remote indigenous communities.

9. What aspect of Architecture do you find most important? What is fundamental to your practice and your design process?

MT: Clarity of intention. And being able to negotiate this intention through the inevitable barriers on the way to having a project realised.

10. What inspired you to become involved in Architecture? What inspires you now?

MT: I suspect having a number of architects (and one committed archi-evangelist) in the family helped push me in the direction… But beside that, I have always been drawn to the city and the opportunity to work in a profession that deals with the city is a continuing motivating factor.

11. What other interests do you have?

MT: Current Comic Crushes – Flex Mentallo by Morrison and Quitely, anything by Paul Pope, Grant Morrison’s run on Batman, Urasawa’s Pluto (a re-imagined Astro Boy story), JH Williams III art on Detective Comics is incredibly good, and Frank Miller’s various Batman books will always have a special place on the shelf.

Movies – anything by Kubrick and Michael Mann, The Godfather, Alien, Children of Men, District 9. Books – Slaughterhouse 5, Catch 22, Oscar and Lucinda, James Ellroy’s American Trilogy the latest of which, Blood’s a Rover, blew me away.

Games – Ico and Shadow of the Colussus are perfect games.

Also, I like running.

12. What is your favourite time of the day, and why?

MT: Right now, because I am aiming to run a marathon at the end of the year, I am spending a fair bit of time running along the cliff edge along South Head to the Gap at Watsons Bay. It is an extraordinary part of Sydney, vertical sandstone cliff faces over the Pacific Ocean on one side and Sydney Harbour on the other. Pretty much where that dentist had his office in Finding Nemo.

13. What would be your ultimate design project?

MT: The foyer to the space elevator, a space station, Guggenheim Mars? Basically any project involved in a renewed optimism and fervour for space exploration.

14. What are you doing at the moment?

MT: I am not very good at staying focussed on a particular task, so right now I am making some changes to the documentation for the Australian Peacekeeping Memorial, proofing photos of the Watsons Bay House, organising the Sydney leg of the Pecha Kucha for Haiti global fundraising tilt, updating my blog, reviewing fee proposals from engineers for a small addition to a house in Randwick, browsing the net.

15. Who would you most like to work with on a project?

MT: Stanley Kubrick would have been an incredible mind to work with for his single-mindedness, breadth of interest and obsessive research. And if they have to be living, Christopher Nolan is making blockbuster films that are deal with film structure and the city as a baroque playground as the backdrop for science fiction and contemporary myth making. Can I work on Batman 3?

Ashfield House

Australian Peace-keeping Memorial

North Sydney

UTS Broadway

Watson’s Bay House

I’d like to thank Marcus for participating in the interview, it was a pleasure. If you’re interested in getting in touch or finding out more about Super Colossal, e-mail

If you are interested in being interviewed and featured on Archi-Ninja, please contact me.


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