James Hardie logo

Ask James Hardie
service & solutions

In conversation with… Gavin O’Neile, building design student

Gavin O’Neile’s decision to pursue his passion for sustainable design wasn’t an easy one. We chatted to Gavin about his career journey so far.

Gavin O’Neile has always had an interest in building design. A passion that stemmed from something more than a love for striking architecture, Gavin wanted to make more of a contribution to society by helping people achieve their design dreams, while exploring the future of sustainable design in Australia. 

At 32 and married with a child on the way, his decision to pursue his passion wasn’t an easy one- it meant giving up a steady and reliable job for study and a more uncertain career path. Gavin ultimately knew that if he didn’t follow his passions, he would always regret what could have been. 

Now studying a Diploma of Building Design at Northern Sydney Institute (Hornsby TAFE), we chatted to Gavin to find out how his decision is paying off. 

A new path 

I chose to study a Diploma of Building Design because I found myself at a crossroads after a 15-year career in sales. I was a sales manager travelling Australia in a pretty good job, but I wasn’t happy. I wanted to do something I loved so I looked into architecture. I had always loved the societal effect of buildings, and I had a desire to design and create something that could impact people. 

I was 32, married, and had a child on the way. Working towards buying a home and successful career was all I’d ever known. However, if I knew that if I didn’t take the plunge and follow my dream, I would always regret it. Walking away from a career that provided for my family was a very hard decision yet one of the best I have ever made. Now I love my life, my study and I feel as though I’m helping contribute to society. 


Sustainable inspiration 

I’m inspired by modern technology that allows us to design buildings that have less impact on the environment and can enhance the living conditions of everyone. 

What I love most about my course is being challenged to take an idea or concept and develop that into a building or project that you can be proud of. I love designing and coming up with concepts. I usually sketch on anything I can find at the time and also use ArchiCAD to bring my ideas to life. 

I am currently on work experience with FLDC Architects, where we have numerous projects on the go. Some of the projects include a shopping mall, multiple child care centres, and some waterfront renovations. Concurrently I’m designing a multi-residential apartment block with a roof terrace and have recently worked on a lightweight construction process for which I used Scyon product. 


The future of study 

In the future I’m going to continue studying at UTS and hopefully complete a Bachelor of Architecture. At the same time, I’ll continue working with FLDC Architects. 

Studying has been challenging yet entirely rewarding. It has changed my life for the better. 


Feeling inspired? See more design ideas, tips and advice from Scyon.