In the second instalment of our Voice of an Architect series, we speak to RIO Architects Interior Designer Gareth Davies. With a minimalist architectural aesthetic, use of biophilic elements and focus on green and sustainable commercial construction, we are consistently inspired by the ambitious work of this Cardiff-based architecture practice. Here, Davies reveals why Japanese brutalist architecture informs his work and how a less-is-more approach is his preferred design philosophy. Who and what inspires you? I'm inspired by pretty much everything; life inspires me. Travelling is where I get most of my inspiration, from the busy back streets of Barcelona to the colossal towering architecture of Tokyo. I try and seek inspiration wherever I can. In terms of who, I would have to say Tadao Ando is a big inspiration on me and my work with his symbolic architecture that creates space with empowering and deep meaning in the hopes of spiritual enlightenment. His use of light and landscape is truly remarkable, where light and shadows cast throughout the day redefine spaces. What is your favourite building and why? My favourite building has to be the ‘Church of the Light’ in Osaka, Japan, by Tadao Ando. After thoroughly researching Ando’s theories and architecture during university, I had a new-found appreciation for use of concrete and other simple, raw materials that contrast against the light and shadows of the space. Ando links nature and architecture together by creating focus on nature through picture-frame openings and drawing in light to create spiritual meaning. The use of concrete means that the spaces are void of all ornaments, which creates a meaningful, pure and unadorned space. This building is truly a reinforcement of Ando’s principal focus of simplicity and minimalist aesthetics to create meaningful sanctuaries and places of worship. A cruciform has been cut into the brutalist concrete to form a cross of light The worship hall repurposed the scaffolding from the project to create the church pews What is your favourite project you have worked on and why? So many to choose from, but the office refurbishment for British charity Care for the Family would have to be my favourite so far. It’s a challenging brief and its Tetris-like requirement of achieving the client's aspirations into an existing building has been my most enjoyable yet. Working with great clients who share an appreciation for design and the finer details has been a pleasure and it has allowed me to create something meaningful and motivating for the staff at Care for the Family. Do you have a favourite quote? "Architecture is a visual art and the buildings speak for themselves," by American architect Julia Morgan. What is the most satisfying part of being an architect? To be able to improve places where we eat, sleep, work and learn is truly motivational and inspiring for me. To be able to interpret a client’s aspiration into a physical form is a skill I’m truly proud of. How would you describe your design philosophy? Simple, functional and inspirational tends to summarise my design style. I look to create designs that meet the needs of the client without complex forms or structures. My hope is that my designs will inspire those who reside within the space. Less is more is very much my way of thinking. Images 1, 2 and 3: ‘Church of the Light’ in Ibaraki, Osaka, Japan by Tadao Ando.