Mixing commerce with family can be risky business. For Annalise Knight, however, working with her older brother, Andy, was a natural evolution of her Snowy Mountains upbringing. “Our parents were big on minimising waste in our house, and that bled through,” she says of Brother Nature, the eco-conscious design and construction firm the siblings founded in 2014.
“The buildings we sleep, eat, work, rest and love in are our chosen habitat; our soul’s second line of defence against the world,” says Knight, who is the firm’s general manager. Based in Sydney, and with projects dotted across New South Wales, she explains that Brother Nature’s guiding ethos is simple: “Designing and building as smart as possible, with consideration for people and the planet.”
Material innovation is a focal point for the company, which harnesses mass timber — specifically, cross-laminated timber, an engineered wood product — in order to achieve its mission of raising the standard of Australian construction. Ultimately, Knight says, when we speak about a high- quality build that should also refer to its environmental footprint.
In 2022, Brother Nature completed its first mass timber building in the siblings’ former stomping ground: eight townhouses, designed for short-term accommodation, in Jindabyne. Knight hopes it will contribute to the local economy and acquaint visitors with the benefits of the material.
As for Knight’s personal approach to structure, she embraces a mindset of controlled spontaneity. “I thrive in chaos, but am empowered to do so by cherished grounding forces in my life,” she says. “Structure exists as a backup plan, giving me the freedom to deviate in sometimes wild ways, and to explore every opportunity that comes along whilst knowing that there’s a safe space waiting for me when I choose it.”