Isabelle Aileen Toland

Isabelle Aileen Toland is an architect practicing in Sydney. The journal documented a complete process of an architectural concept design from element research to geometry development and finally perspective sketches of the complete project. Without any personal anecdote, this journal remains a professional sketchbook witnessing her productivity under quarantine. 

"While working together during lockdown Danièle Hromek gave me some wise words that I noted down, and since then, I constantly refer back to. “Country holds knowledges, Laws, narratives and lore like an eternal library." Danièle Hromek, Budawang tribe/ Yuin nation, 2020.  

We asked Isabelle 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. 

The period of isolation was a bit of a logistical nightmare!
Juggling work - especially meetings and presentations - around young children trying to do their schoolwork at home, getting restless and bored and wanting attention, was no easy task.
Jumping from one online meeting to the next, the morning would turn into the afternoon, and the afternoon into evening, and then the next day would start again, and again, and again…

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

I treated the book like I treat a regular visual diary - recording my thoughts and ideas for designs we were working on at the time, recording observations from things around me, or notes and sketches following meetings or discussions with people we were collaborating with at the time.  

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

I hope we will become more aware of what is truly of value in life and place greater importance on intangible things, such as opportunities to connect with people and to share experiences together. The pandemic has provided a moment for people to reflect on their daily lives, on what works and what doesn’t.
It has also provided the opportunity for businesses to explore and become more open to more flexible work practices.
In embracing the digital as a more regular aspect of our daily lives, perhaps we will learn to value our physical environments and realities more and pay more attention to the impacts we have on it.

Isabelle Aileen Toland is a co-director and co-founder of Aileen Sage Architects – a collaborative design studio established in Sydney in 2013. Aileen Sage is an innovative practice, whose approach to architecture endeavours to reach beyond the built outcome to consider the life of places and the stories they hold.
Prior to establishing the company, Isabelle worked for award-winning practices in Paris and Sydney. In 2016, she was co-creative director of the Australian Exhibition at the Venice Architecture Biennale. Her experience has ranged from complex high-end residential projects and urban community projects, to remote temporary campsites and urban art interventions.

View Isabelle Aileen Toland's journal here:

Image: Isabelle Aileen Toland, Design/Isolate Journal, (detail), 2020.