Architect, Epaminondas Katsalidis, on being a pioneer in sustainable construction innovations

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You only need to take one look at some of the buildings designed by Epaminondas Katsalidis and it comes as no surprise that the architect was recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List this year for service to architecture and sustainable construction innovation.

That is unless you are Nondas himself who, when we sit down for our exclusive chat, stresses that although he was flattered by the recognition, he wasn’t expecting it.

“It’s a great compliment. I’m flattered. I’m surprised. I think architecture is an important part of society, culture and the built environment so in that respect, I’m glad that the government acknowledges the important work that architects do for the community,” Nondas tells The Greek Herald exclusively.

READ MORE: Greek Australians recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for 2021.

Epaminondas Katsalidis. Photo: ArchitectureAU.

“I’m also very grateful to my parents who placed such an importance on education and provided the opportunity for me to follow what I was passionate about, which was architecture and design.”

Nondas, who was born in Athens, says he always knew he wanted to be an architect from a young age because he loved to “do things” with his hands like “dig holes and drive nails.” But it was only after he, his parents and brother migrated to Melbourne in 1956 that Nondas really began to nurture his talent and eventually became a co-founding partner in Fender Katsalidis Pty Ltd since 2001.

In this role, Nondas is known as a leader in the integration of art into architecture with notable buildings including the Melbourne Terrace Apartment, the Republic Tower and the Eureka Tower.

“I’ve always thought it was an obligation to try to incorporate and enrich buildings by incorporating artists and we have done a lot of that wherever there is an opportunity. It’s about creating layers of interest to the building, it’s not just about the building itself,” Nondas explains.

Image of Australia 108 alongside Eureka Tower. Designed by Nondas. Photo- Peter Bennetts.

That’s not all Nondas does either. He has also revolutionised constructions timeframes and costs by developing a new prefabricated and modular construction system for more sustainable and efficient construction of mid-to-high rise buildings. This is something he’s extremely passionate about.

“As a species, we over-consume and it’s getting to levels where we have 7 billion people going on 9 billion and it’s pretty obvious what’s going to happen. So there’s an obligation for society to use less resources and construction uses huge amounts of resources so it seems logical that we have a responsibility to try to minimise that,” Nondas says passionately.

This clear passion for sustainability and innovative design is something which sees Nondas in high demand not only in Australia, but also in Greece. In fact, Nondas is so highly regarded for his work that he was also given the prestigious opportunity to be an international jury member in the architectural competition for the new Acropolis Museum.

The final design for the new Acropolis Museum.

“It was pretty interesting. I was particularly impressed by the Greek jurors… I thought they were the most committed, ethical, conscientious people I’ve ever encountered. They took the process incredibly seriously,” Nondas says.

“The project I pushed for won. I thought that was the best project because it was achievable, it wasn’t overly arrogant and showy.”

Two words which are definitely not in Nondas’ vocabulary when he’s sitting down and getting ready to design his next show-stopping, yet sustainable and innovative, building.

READ MORE: Greek Australians in Queen’s Birthday Honours react to being recognised for their service.

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