Firstly, yes, the little one on the picture is me. I loved, loved, loved my spinach 🙂
I thought since the Gruen Eco Design family is getting larger and larger it is a good time to tell you a bit more about myself and how it all started. Why I am so passionate about building sustainably and living a sustainable life style and what brought me to where I am today…
1 Sparking my love and passing for our environment.
Already as a little child I used to watch every nature documentary on earth with my mum. Seeing all those animals, and the struggles some of them were facing due to humanity started a spark in me: To look out for the environment and to protect our nature and wildlife. Up until today most people laugh when they notice how quickly I take a shower… Still goes back to the little voice in me. ‘Don’t waste water!” And don’t leave the light on when you are not in the room. So, you will often here me nagging my partner, why are you still under the shower? Get out! J
2 The house I grew up in
When I was 3 years old my parents built a new home. Already back then in the early 80th we had double glazed upvc windows, (my dad was a window manufacturer) concrete inslab heating and my parents had used hebel blocks for the walls. I grew up experiencing thermal comfort right from the get go. For me it was just normal. I guess therefore it came a bit as a shock to the system when I moved to Australia and lived in my first cold and draughty rental place.
3 Working and living in Spain & Learning English
After I finished university I worked for about 1 year in Germany as an architect. But then I got a scholarship from University and went to Madrid, Spain for 6 months to work for a huge and famous architectural firm. For once, to learn Spanish, but also to experience working on such high-profile projects. Living in this vibrant capital city had changed me a lot and made me aspire for more. I could not imagine anymore to go back into our tiny home town/city. This is where the idea coming to Australia came from. I thought: if I could learn to speak Spanish in 6 months, even I should be able to learn to speak English 🙂 Background story: Although I learnt English in school, I had changed schools several times. As a result of that, at my latest high school the other kids had 6 years of English lessons, I only had 4. And teenagers can be cruel sometimes. Others were laughing about my bad English in class, and my bad accent. Therefore, I quit English class and swore to myself to never ever speak English again. Well, so I did, for about 10 years. Until we came to Melbourne on a working holiday visa in August 2017. My first interview was quite funny indeed, since I spoke more Spanish than English. But I must have done something good, because I got the job J
Well, I still have my bad accent. But now I take it with humour….
One other thing that became clear to me during my scholarship was, that I didn’t enjoy much working on this 100 million Euro projects. Where you only had to do little things at a project. You might move steel beams for weeks, or work only on wet areas… What I do love is working on an entire project. Projects where I do everything: the design, town planning and the detail site of things.
These projects might not be as big or famous and might not be worth publishing in big magazines. But they are my love and my passion, they are my babies J.
4 Health issues and holistic health approach
Several years ago, my health started to deteriorate. We have Crohn’s decease in the family. Therefore, I thought I must have it as well and was just putting up with the symptoms and constantly feeling down. At that time, we wanted to start a family. But after several examinations and treatments at one of Melbourne’s fertility specialist told me I would never be able to have kids naturally. Obviously, this news was devastating. But we decided as a couple that IVF was not an option for us. Instead, we started to look at us and our health. How could we improve our life and how could we reduce stress? I started seeing a health coach/ personal trainer and a naturopath. We changed our entire way of life. Slowly we both felt better and eventually I fell pregnant naturally, not even once, but twice.
Since then I’m a strong believer in a holistic health approach.
5 The early years of Gruen Eco Design
Although I started Gruen Eco Design already in 2010. In the early years I was mainly doing energy ratings and ESD reports. And only did a few small renovations or extensions while I was still working full time for other architects.
I completely set out on my own end of June 2013. Full of big hopes and dreams. To only find out 1 week later that I was pregnant with my first. So instead of going out and winning new projects the first 5 months were spent at home sick all-day, barely being able to keep working on my existing projects. Our first girl was born in February 2014 and then our second girl only 19 months later. So, it was all a bit of a slower start than I had planned originally.
And as it is typical in the construction industry, projects can often drag out, mainly due to town planning applications. This explains why there aren’t that many photos of build projects in our portfolio yet, as I cannot show projects I’ve done previously for other firms.
However, I just added 5 more projects to our portfolio. Currently we have 6 further projects under construction and 4 more to start in the next few weeks.
It has been an intense and exciting time since I started this journey and I’m looking forward to all the exciting things ahead for myself and our growing team.