Shannon Battisson believes architect-designed homes should be available to everyone.
This passion bubbles out of the Canberra architect, who points to Australia's mass market architect-designed homes of the past as a way to achieve this.
Battisson wants more people to engage architects, and believes a good architect will "work to your budget".
"In Australia we are pretty famous for not using architects in our general housing market," she says.
"I just genuinely want to increase the general public's awareness of architecture and what we can be doing in our general housing market.
"That's something I am super-passionate about, it's why I established my business and it's what gets me out of bed every morning."
And it's what Battisson will advocate for in her new role as the president of the ACT chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects.
The Canberra-raised architect co-owns local firm The Mill: Architecture and Design.
Battisson started The Mill with business partner Sarah Welsh, about eight years ago.
Welsh runs the commercial section of the business while Battisson looks after residential, which she calls her specialty.
"We really started with an approach that everybody should have access to some level of professional design, it didn't matter how big the project was or how big the budget was, people should be able to get some level of advice that we just didn't see happening," she says.
"We really do a wide range of commercial design from big multinational government departments across the country, and then all the way down to bespoke, responsive residential architecture."
She says the pair wanted a break from big business when they started up, but the firm, while still small, has grown in recent years.
"We decided to set up in a part of the market that we saw was missing, and it really took off. Within a couple of years we had a team working around us," she says.
"There are five of us now and they are my second family."
The clients drive the process for Battisson, who places a great value on each and every design as unique to the people it is created for.
"I see my role as an architect as guiding my clients through the journey, and at the end of the day, I really want them to see themselves in the house and not me," she says.
"A home is so sacred, and when they come home at the end of the day, I want them to see themselves and their family and how they want to live in their house around them.
"One of the things that people say when they see our portfolio or website is that our designs are all different, and I really love that. It's a real testament to the fact all our clients are different."
One of Battisson's favourite projects was a redesign of the Gathering Place in Dickson, the convent for Canberra's Brigidine Order of Nuns.
"I had done a place for my parents in Downer, and the head sister and her layperson knocked on my mother's door and said, 'We really like this house, it speaks to us and we were wondering if you could tell us who designed your house and if they may help us with our house'," she says.
Seeing Battisson's passion for architecture, it's hard to believe it was a career path she hadn't always considered.
But when she finished school, architecture was not on her radar; she wanted to do medicine, but it was travel and her photographer's eye that prompted her mother to float the idea.
"When I finished school, I took a year off to travel and to work a little bit and find out about who I was," Battisson says.
"I would come back from these trips... and my mum would say to me, 'The photos are beautiful and the architecture is incredible, but I would kill for a photo of yourself in front of something'.
"She actually said to me, 'Why don't you study architecture and get it out of your system and then I might get a photo of you'.
"She put the idea in my head and it was a perfect fit once she said it."
Battisson spent her childhood in Canberra. She moved to Sydney to study and lived overseas for several years, but her love for the capital would always bring her back.
"I quite consciously chose Canberra as my home, I have always been a big fan of Canberra, not only to have a family - we're quite famous for celebrating its ease when you have a family, which it is," she says.
"But it's actually a great place to start a business; we've got an incredible business community and it's really supportive, it's not competitive.
"It's a really wonderful and supportive environment to strike out on your own and give it a go."
During both her childhood and adult years, Battisson has called many parts of Canberra home.
"I have lived all over Canberra and I have loved pretty much all of the places I have lived in," she says.
"My sentimental favourite would have to be Curtin, where I spent a big chunk of my childhood.
"It's a wonderful suburb that has been beautifully set out, there's a mix of modernist houses that I personally adore and the community has really fought to retain what makes Curtin, Curtin.
"That's the big trees, the wide open spaces and the relationships between the houses and the space that goes between them - it would have to be a real favourite for me."
Battisson currently lives in Coombs with her husband and two children.
"I didn't expect to be enjoy living in Molonglo - we bought out there because we are able to land rent," she says.
"[It's] a wonderful thing for a lot of people, myself included, who could have never afforded to build and buy land and that allows us a foothold in the market.
"We have just committed to building again in Denman Prospect."
Being in Canberra, Battisson recognises the capital is likely to have a higher-than-average number of architect-designed homes.
I think it is a massively exciting time for Canberra, I think we have found our feet a little bit and we have stopped competing with Sydney or Melbourne for our identity.Shannon Battisson
"I would like to think Canberra is better than average, we have a really fantastic history of architectural design and housing in Canberra," she says.
Battisson points to Braddon as an example of Canberra finding its identity.
"I think it is a massively exciting time for Canberra, I think we have found our feet a little bit and we have stopped competing with Sydney or Melbourne for our identity," she says.
"[Braddon has] stopped trying to be a little Melbourne or a Surrey Hills and it's found its groove."
While many bemoan the increasing density of Canberra, Battisson embraces it.
"I think that densification that has stated around the city, whilst I know it sounds like a dirty word to a lot of people, is actually vital for our city and there are really wonderful example of the city doing well and it's exciting times," she says.
But with the changing identity, there has been one great disappointment for Battisson, and that is the demolition of buildings.
"We are demolishing buildings that really don't need to be demolished a lot of the time, and I think the community is losing parts of our story that we are going to miss in years to come," she says.
"What's important for us is to fight for it and those older buildings be a part of that new vibrant city we are creating."
Battisson expresses disappointment at the demolition of several buildings along Northbourne Avenue, which she says held a lot of value to her as an architect.
But it was the destruction of the ANZAC Park East building that brought a tear to her eye.
"ANZAC Parade is one of the most single important vistas in the city, it's one of the most important in the original plan for the city and we had these two incredible structures that book-ended the parade," she says.
"It marked a very dignified end to the memorial and created the only symmetrical view through the city.
"I think the sale of those building with the exact purpose of demolishing them and creating two very different buildings in their place is something I find very sad, and I think we won't be able to change that now one of them is demolished."
Battisson says the demolition of ANZAC Park East, when its structure was visible, showed the potential of the building.
"When they were demolished they were stripped bare back to their structure, and you could see their inherent potential for something new and something really spectacular, and it was a real missed opportunity to create something special there," she says.
"They were just ripe for being fit out for amazing apartments or a boutique motel or any one of a myriad of new lives that building would have had, and instead it goes to landfill.
"I think that is a building we will certainly regret, and I certainly regret that was demolished."
Battisson embodies an avid devotion to environmental design, and says the weather events of this summer signify the importance of climate resilient homes.
"There is no room for any new building to not respond to the climate into which it is being built, it is something I have fought hard for my whole career and definitely something I will be continuing to push for," she says.
"The fact that we have had a summer like the one we have had, which has been incredibly eye-opening for a lot of people, we can't just deny we are at a point where we need to make changes and our buildings are a really fantastic place to make changes," she says.
"They have a massive effect on the amount of energy that can be used, the amount of materials we can use, the amount of waste we put into landfill and making those changes now is absolutely vital."