2015 NSW Architecture Awards
Congratulations to all members shortlisted for this year’s awards and thanks to the jurors for their generosity in recommending 53 awards and commendations, equivalent to nearly a third of all entries. This will give our award recipients a good chance of success in the judging of the national awards.
I was impressed by the strength of competition in the new Education category, justification enough for its emergence as an awards category in its own right. The awarding of the Sulman Medal to the Westmead Millennium Institute also demonstrated the importance of design excellence in the health sector to meet the needs of our growing and aging society.
It was particularly gratifying that the Government Architect’s Office was the recipient of four awards and a commendation, including the Lloyd Rees Award and the Blacket Prize. Deputy Government Architect Helen Lochhead was also the worthy recipient of the President’s Prize. This demonstrates both the depth of talent in the office and its central role in the state’s architectural culture.
The recently released State of Australian Cities report from the Australian Government reveals that in Sydney, semi-detached and apartment dwellings make up 56% of all new dwellings built over the last decade, whereas in 2001 they accounted for only 35%. Three years ago, apartment construction reached the tipping point where it exceeded the number of new freestanding homes.
This says two important things. Apartment construction is on the rise – and therefore so is density.
As if to confirm the fact, the revised SEPP 65 and the new Apartment Design Guide governing the design of apartments commenced operation in mid-July. NSW is still the only state in Australia to have its own design legislation mandating the use of architects for any building type.
The impressive crop of entrants to the multi-residential category of this year’s awards proves that our members are up to this privilege – and this challenge.
The strategic design challenge
But our potential impact on the improvement of the built environment is much greater than this one building type. We have the opportunity to use our strategic design skills to help create a much more liveable Sydney.
This issue of Architecture Bulletin, expertly put together by the Chapter’s new communications officer, Hannah McKissock-Davis, and guest editor Ben Hewett for the Built Environment Committee, places the strategic application of design skills at the centre of the urban renewal challenge.
I was privileged to conduct interviews with the CEOs of two key government agencies, Infrastructure NSW and UrbanGrowth NSW, for this issue.
They both told me of the importance of design thinking in making the immense changes underway across the whole metropolitan area. They agree with the Institute that the city needs to be both bigger and better.
UrbanGrowth CEO David Pitchford sees us as his allies in the war against mediocrity (see page 28), while Infrastructure NSW’s Jim Betts fully recognises the need for excellence in infrastructure design which is sympathetic to human amenity (page 10).
These are strong messages from two key executives guiding Sydney’s growth – and architecture and architects are well placed to work with them in achieving a bigger city that functions better and is also more liveable.
Last week the Chapter’s future Champions of Change had their second face to face meeting. I am heartened by the honesty with which these men are facing the challenge of gender equity in their workplaces – and their willingness to join others working to change the culture of the profession. I will keep you posted on further developments.