The role of the Institute is to enhance the professional capability of our members, and to advocate the value of architecture and architects to the public.
The Institute takes very seriously, but hopefully with a light touch, its mission to ‘make the world a better place through architecture’. It’s not just about what and how we create, it’s also about conducting our practices with a positive, collaborative, can do focus on people in communities and their needs.
Membership of the Institute has reached new heights. Nationally, we number over 11,500, an increase of 6 per cent since 2013. In New South Wales we had an increase of 11 per cent since 2013. The increase in Victoria’s membership was less than 10 per cent; clearly we’re doing something right in this state.
In 2014 more than 5,700 architects attended one of the many events held here at Tusculum and around the state.
In Sydney, attendance at CPD sessions, Tuesdays @ Tusculum events, the National Speaker Series, the International Speaker Series, PALS, Regi(fru)stration, the NSW Architecture Awards, ArchiCAREERS Day, the Gold Medallist talk, and NSW Graduate and Student Awards amounted to 4,725.
Newcastle Division CPD sessions and events attendance reached 558, and Country Division 456.
The more engaged members are in the Institute’s various committees and programs, and the greater the feedback they give us, the better our services and programs will be. Membership of any organisation is not a passive one way street. It should be an active two way process that enables all of us to benefit.
Apart from the Architects Acts governing the registration of the profession in each jurisdiction, the SEPP is undoubtedly the most important piece of legislation in Australia affecting architecture, as it focuses specifically on design and mandates the use of architects for the design of apartment buildings. After such a long wait, the delivery of the draft amendment to SEPP 65 and the accompanying Apartment Design Guide was a disappointment.
There is a conflict between the amendment and the guide in their present form. The former refers to standards in the guide, while the latter studiously avoids them. The development industry needs certainty, so minimum measurable standards for the key design principles are a necessity; and they need to be included in the SEPP, which is the statutory instrument.
The Institute firmly believes that it is possible to create policies and approval processes that insist on a minimum level of design performance while facilitating and encouraging design excellence.
Sydney Architecture Festival
After eight successful years, the Sydney Architecture Festival is a firm fixture on the city’s events calendar. While there were only 40 events compared with 70 in 2013, arguably the drop in quantity was compensated by a rise in quality.
The Festival’s keynote event for 2014, The Colloquium – Growing a Greater Sydney: Connecting people and places – was held in Parramatta on 7 November.
The event brought together policymakers, architects, urban designers, researchers, the community and government to show how Sydney can grow better as it grows bigger.
Taking place at Parramatta’s Riverside Theatre, The Colloquium was moderated by Walkley Award winning television journalist Tony Jones, with speakers including Lucy Turnbull, Committee for Sydney; David Pitchford, UrbanGrowth NSW; Paul Donegan, Grattan Institute; Bob Meyer, David Holm and Philip Graus, Cox; Ross De la Motte, Hassell; Peter Poulet, NSW Government Architect; Rod Simpson, University of Sydney and Simpson+Wilson; David Borger, Sydney Business Chamber; and Helen Lochhead, University of Sydney.
The event explored the transformational potential of unprecedented investment in transport and urban renewal projects across Greater Sydney and the unlocking of economic and employment potential through better housing, transport, and work options alongside an expanded network of joined up green open spaces. It demonstrated the critical impact of architecture and design thinking on the future shape of the city and its region.
The Bays Precinct Summit, held two weeks later on November 19–20, was both unique and revelatory. Here was a government agency (UrbanGrowth NSW) recognising it doesn’t have all the answers on urban renewal, and reaching out to experts from around the world while seeking engagement with local peak bodies and community organisations.
There are clearly tensions between this refreshing open ended approach and the bottom line pundits in NSW Treasury. But it’s about time there was a challenge to the conventional approach of development at all costs for short term gain typical of NSW Governments.
The summit was an excellent start to the process of developing a broad long term vision for this precinct focused on urbanity, mixed uses and, above all, transport connections to the rest of the urban framework. At CEO David Pitchford’s request, we have prepared a submission summarising the principles we believe should be embedded in the strategic plan he is preparing. We will maintain an active interest in this once in a lifetime urban renewal project as it develops.