Claire McCaughan

Architect Claire McCaughan lives and works in Sydney. Surrounded by family and a sanctuary garden, Claire focused on the small things she is grateful for – the small wins.  The journal consists of sketches with captions of about twelve small joyful events in Claire’s quarantine lockdown life. From making small craft with her daughter to listening to friend’s mix tape, Claire presented genuine appreciation and gratitude toward the living environment and the intimate objects.  

"The Small Wins. I commissioned an artist to make me a picture. I stayed at home.” 

We asked Claire three questions about her experience of isolation, completing this journal and her hope for the future. These are her responses:

Describe the experience of the period of isolation for you. 

I was not isolated; I was surrounded by my family! My two small children and my husband brought me joy between sad news bulletins and stressful texts from friends in London and New York. My tiny garden became my sanctuary and I dreamt of living by the sea.   

What does your book represent and how did you approach the challenge?

I resolved in March to make space for small wins, to find joy each day. In early May, when all was wrong in Europe, I squeezed in a swim at Bronte. We were out of lockdown and I had a meeting in Bondi. I did a quick car costume change, and I was in the water. Small win. 

What do you hope will change in Australia as a result of the pandemic?

Humans are kind, but sometimes kindness gets lost amongst other demands. I hope people will remember kindness more often. 

Claire is a registered architect, first class honours graduate from the University of Sydney and was Head of Programs at Australian Design Centre from 2014-2016.  In 2012 she was awarded the prestigious University of Sydney Young Alumni Award for Achievement following the presentation of Archrival’s work at 13th Venice Architecture Biennale. She is a highly motivated practitioner and practices architecture alongside an expansive portfolio of public art, exhibition design and architectural installation projects, including a black book of Australian designers titled Australian Design HonoursThe Sidewalk Project, Edible Outdoor Rooms and Much Lead.
Claire’s extensive portfolio was established with Sam Crawford Architects where she was an Associate from 2007-2013. These architectural commissions inform Claire’s sessional teaching positions at the University of Technology Sydney and University of Sydney. Claire's architecture portfolio is complimented by her strategic design leadership at Australian Design Centre where she secured and renovated a new venue for the organisation in its 50th anniversary year. Through these combined partnerships between the art, architecture and business sectors, Claire seeks out new ways for the public to engage with design.

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View Claire McCaughan's journal here:


Image: Claire McCaughan, Design/Isolate Journal (detail), 2020.