Guided by a life philosophy of finding meaning and connection in seemingly disparate projects, architect Dino Vrynios is changing the conversation in Adelaide.
Making better with Das Studio’s Dino Vrynios
Dino Vrynios’ near insatiable desire to make things better has driven him ever since he was a child.
“When I was a young boy, my parents often grew tired of me always asking ‘Why?’,” Dino says. “I just wanted to understand why things were. It’s always been a part of my DNA.”
Through his stewardship of architecture and design practice Das Studio, created together with, Designer, Sara Horstmann, Dino’s focus of ‘why’ has morphed to include ‘how’. This attitude informs the ethos of Das Studio: to always ‘make better.’
“That propensity to understand the why of things has empowered us to unpick all the existing answers and speculate as to how it could be done better,” says Dino, an InDaily 40 Under 40 award winner in 2020.
“I don’t limit the idea of me being an architect as simply to create buildings, it’s actually to create solutions.”
“We actively seek out opportunities for what we call ‘problem finding’. Where is there a fundamental issue that we can see, and how can we help come up with a solution that’s going to create better outcomes?”
One such problem was the need to provide more classrooms and teaching facilities to the numerous schools undertaking the major transition of bringing Year 7 into high school.
After learning about how all the elements of a building can be fabricated more precisely and more efficiently off site and then transported to site during his travels around Asia and Europe as the Jack Hobbs McConnell Travelling Fellow in 2015, Dino saw how modular construction could be applied to learning environments needed for the Year 7 transition.
“The whole modularised approach, which has been a big driver behind our growth, was born out of this ‘why’ and ‘how’,” Dino says.
“What became apparent is that the volume of work that needed to be done would be difficult to achieve with the previous procurement set up.”
The team at Das Studio initially provided modular classrooms to Mitcham Girls High School as part of a pilot project to meet an immediate need for teaching spaces for over 300 new students in a period of just four months.
“Quite simply, we were trying to demonstrate an alternate solution and to their credit, the Department for Education saw the potential of this approach,” Dino says.
The pilot project quickly grew into a program valued at $200m and opened this new modular methodology up to the broader design and construction industry to deliver new permanent infrastructure.
“South Australian Architects, Engineers, Project Managers and Builders have taken up this opportunity and validated the idea of shifting manufacturing smarts into construction”, says Dino. “We are now putting our energy into other sectors such as Health, Technology and Tourism with incredible partners like the Royal Flying Doctor Service, Flinders University and Escapod.”
Dino’s penchant for improving the building process has been fruitful for Das Studio, which has been expanding ever since its inception.
“We are quite fortunate to have the opportunity to work on some game-changing projects and programs and have developed a reputation for new ways of thinking and doing. The 40 under 40 success has endorsed the work our team has delivered to date,” Dino says.
This growing reputation helped Das Studio win a major tender with Flinders University last month, the Line Zero: Factory of the Future project.
The project is centred on accelerating capability in South Australia’s manufacturing industry to allow it to leverage the multi-generational opportunities presented by the $45 billion Future Frigate program.
“We were awarded the project because we weren’t there just as architects to make a building, we were there to map out a process for what this manufacturing facility needs to achieve,” Dino says.
Dino has also turned his ‘problem finding’ philosophy to his own life. He recently launched a wellbeing-centred podcast called 20:MinuteCity, produced by Solstice Podcasting, the publisher of CityMag.
He says the podcast was born of his experience working ‘til he literally collapsed, and then finding out other people had similar experiences.
“Being this ‘why’ person, I wanted to understand why this happens,” he says. “And I wanted to help people be comfortable talking about these issues, so we talk about it over a podcast, and we also talk about the wellbeing of the city.
“We’re excited to launch season two, where we’re going to be talking to other 40 Under 40 recipients to hear their amazing stories, as well as their own struggles and how they have overcome them.”