Our Story

What makes you tick?

We’re passionate about re-connecting people with each other and the world – firing them up and getting them excited – it get’s us excited too. We are fascinated by the world around us – both the people and the places. We’re all unique and we’re all changing and so is the world around us. In a time when ‘connections’ are increasingly fast, cheap and easy, deep and real connections in our world are truly rare and invaluable.


“Nowadays, people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.” – Oscar Wilde

Centrum is an experienced firm with a rich history of being different.

What's your story

Why? Because it’s been all about your stories – not about ours. But, if you do want to know our unique story, please read on.

Centrum Architects was born in the crucible of the recession of the early 1990s, founded by Geoff Lavender and Ken Charles who started the practice on a lean diet of residential work throughout Melbourne’s inner South East. Ken is a talented designer, having trained under Denton Corker Marshall at the height of Barry Marshall’s powers in the late 80s. Geoff honed his technical skills for detailed documentation and construction under Bruce Henderson, before setting up Centrum with Ken and providing Ken with the perfect foil to realise his design and people skills and build a client-focused practice.

Centrum’s design philosophy that ‘Tailor Makes’ homes for each of their individual clients has been the guiding philosophy. In our 25-year history, Centrum have completed many hundreds of homes for our clients, each with an individual response that reflects the clients character and needs. Centrum-designed homes are now located across Victoria and interstate and the practice has developed a wealth of experience and the proven ability and professionalism to manifest your dream home.

Centrum is a specialist in designing contemporary homes as unique as their clients and provides architectural, interior design and project management services to its clients from its inner-Melbourne Studio in South Yarra.

Who’s in your Team?

We are a diverse team who are passionate about the role Architecture can play in enriching peoples lives by connecting people with their environment(s): built, social, historical and natural.

Centrum’s Directors are Geoff Lavender, Andrew Rowe and Chew Wan Wong. And just like in sports, each person in Centrum’s diverse team brings different strengths and attributes to the practice to achieve the project goals. The ‘practice’ of Architecture, requires a huge range of skills from the creative, to technical and social across the 2-3 years that it can take to realise a project.

We’re different from most architectural firms. Our gameplan is to deploy specialist team members at specific times throughout the course of the project with the specific skills required to complete that particular task. This means that no matter where your ‘ball’ is during the project, it will always be in the right hands at the right time. Not doing this would be like putting the stocky rover in the ruck, sending a lanky fast bowler in to open the batting or having a lumbering centre play point guard. That’s not a good gameplan.

Centrum Architects Logo

Geoff Lavender

Managing Director

Chew Wan Wong

Project Director

Av Nguyen

Architectural Graduate

Jean Xu

Architectural Graduate
Centrum Architects Logo

Jessica Lim

Project Architect

Joanna Bong

Project Architect

Paula Panopoulos

Architecural Graduate
Centrum Architects Logo

Ken Charles

Design Architect

Our Top Missions

We are interested in the potential of cultural history and meaning to re-connect people to their built environment. We aim to bring a life and voice through architectural form to the underlying cultural history of a place to provide an architecture for people, full of meaning and place.

Anyone can design a building that works. Some can even make it look good. We also want our buildings to be places that mean something to people

Our Story

A Little About Us

Formed in 1993, Centrum Architects Pty Ltd is now a well-established design practice of 21 multi skilled architects, interior & technical design specialists headed by three directors.

The range of work undertaken by the practice has helped develop an informed methodology which allows Centrum to bring something special to each project. Centrum’s client-centred approach avoids ‘canned’ responses and leverages our ability to produce solutions that reflect design excellence whilst balancing time, pragmatism, fiscal, environmental and social responsibility.

Centrum’s collaborative studio atmosphere operates on a project team basis, but led by the directors with each project having one director in charge throughout the course of the commission. Centrum’s directors are hands-on at all stages of the project, providing continuity and effective communication with our clients, and ensuring the final outcome is closely aligned with the original vision. Our team approach offers the advantages of immediacy and flexibility as well as access to an extensive resource pool.

Regardless of the type of the projects undertaken, what remains a constant is our focus on ensuring an appropriate and successful solution through delivering design excellence, cost management and exceptional service, which is reflected in the on-going relationships established with many of our clients.

There is so much to learn and discover from each other and from our environment. We need curiosity foremost – to listen and to share our stories together to create meaning and relationships and ultimately a richer life. What does storytelling have to do with Architecture you ask? We think it should have everything to do with Architecture.

An attractive house devoid of meaning, history, memory and delight (story) is just a building – a lifeless (albeit functional) shelter for warm and often upright individuals. But a house that embodies the unique union of you and your site, inspired by your unique story – now that becomes a home that truly connects you to the world and enriches your life. We love creating Architecture that transcends beyond function and need to connect people with their environment(s) – a unique combination of built, social, historical and natural.


Many clients come to us without an understanding of their ‘story’. We work closely with the client to ‘unpack’ their story, we help them understand and develop their own unique story based on where they have been, where they are now and what they need in the future. We then use this story to tailor a custom architectural solution that fits the client perfectly.

Click below to obtain a free guide on What Architects do and how to find a good one.

Leave us your info

and we will get back to you.