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Australians pride themselves on their laid-back culture; we like to think of ourselves as no-nonsense, practical and straightforward. For us the beach and the bush, sporting fields and the great outdoors are the places we feel most connected to because they exemplify the values of openness, play, freedom and our delight in the natural environment that we all share.

Leisure is the highly appropriate theme for this summer issue of Architecture Bulletin. When you consider international tourism is the world’s biggest commercial service sector industry it’s not surprising that much of the work of architects do is in some way related to leisure. Think of the number of architects involved in restaurant and café designs, as well as hotels, airports, parks, retail, zoos and all the other facilities at the big end of the leisure scale.

Our laid back lifestyle helps us to create welcoming, relaxing environments, so leisure is an area of work in which Australian architects are highly competitive.

Continuing on the theme of leisure this year, for the international audience we will see the realisation of Australia’s pool-themed exhibition at the 2016 Venice Biennale – which expresses our love of water and how we relate to it. This exhibition is our opportunity to demonstrate to the world the varied and creative ways we have integrated and interpreted the pool into some of our best building designs. See the article on Page 26 for more on this major project.

The past year ended well for the Institute’s role in advocating strategic improvements in the built environment. I am pleased to applaud the first appointments to the Greater Sydney Commission’s key roles. I am confident that the team at the top – Lucy Turnbull as Chief Commissioner and Sarah Hill as Chief Executive – will steer the Commission in the right direction.

Even more important for us, the appointment of Institute member Rod Simpson as Environment Commissioner is an extremely positive move. Rod’s experience and expertise make him admirably suited for this new role. He led the urban design and spatial planning component of the City of Sydney’s Sustainable Sydney 2030 Strategy and has been Director of the Urban Design Program at the University of Sydney for the last four years. Prior to these achievements he developed the Green Olympic Village concept, was Manager of Urban Design at the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust and was involved in the development of the ‘City of Cities’ metropolitan strategy for Sydney.

Another esteemed Institute member was recognised in a major appointment late last year. Helen Lochhead has been appointed Dean of the Faculty of Built Environment at the University of NSW, replacing Professor Alec Tzannes in February this year. Helen is moving on from her roles as Deputy NSW Government Architect and Adjunct Professor at the University of Sydney. Previously she has also taught at UTS and internationally at Harvard, MIT, Columbia University and the New York Institute of Technology.

Helen is a previous recipient of both Fulbright and Churchill Fellowships, and most recently completed a Loeb Fellowship at Harvard University interrogating proposals and governance models for more resilient and liveable cities. She is a Fellow of the Institute and is Honorary Secretary of the National Council.

Congratulations to both Helen and Rod on these prestigious and influential appointments.

Shaun Carter
NSW President
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