IF EVER WE needed a reminder of why we became architects, and why we continue to fight our way through the emotional, professional and economic minefield that is our industry, it was provided in Sydney from 24 to 27 May. The 2003 National Architecture Conference, “Imagining Architecture”, was a rewarding experience both personally and intellectually; inspirational, challenging and provocative.
Creative director, Ian Moore’s inventive mix of international speakers, together with Australia’s Sean Godsell, was a statement of confidence in, and reaffirmation of, architecture’s relevance and contribution to an open and enlightened society. The eight keynote presentations were enthusiastically received by the more than 600 conference delegates. Outside of the formal sessions, the Choi Ropiha-designed “sprawling void” in the heart of the Designbuild exhibition created a similarly vital environment as a meeting space in conjunction with sponsors’ stands.
Our long-time supporter BHP Colorbond was principal sponsor of the conference and, for the fourteenth year running, is sponsoring the RAIA’s annual architecture awards, our most public and important profile-raising program. Supporting sponsors included the Laminex Group, Caroma and BHP Steel Lysaght.
I wish to personally and formally thank Ian Moore and the dedicated staff of the RAIA who delivered such a positive outcome in 2003.
Another positive outcome and good news story is the announcement by the Commonwealth Government that 2004 has been designated the Year of the Built Environment. The RAIA is looking forward to working with government and private-sector interests to raise the level of community debate and keep the government focus on the built environment. Through this leadership initiative, and with support from other professional associations and industry, the RAIA will promote the capacity of architects to make a significant contribution to the program. Suggested themes include: Towards Sustainable Communities, Excellence in Building, Architecture for All, Healthy Environments, and Imagining the Future. Planning has started, with steering committees being set up in each state in association with other professional and industry associations. National coordination will be via a steering group. Input and ideas from the RAIA membership will be crucial if we are to take advantage of this opportunity to showcase architects and architecture, so please contact your local chapter president to get involved.
This year’s RAIA awards programme drew significant numbers of entries in all states and territories, and I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing first-hand the buzz of award presentations in the ACT,Western Australia, South Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland. The added value of all entries being posted on the Awards Gallery at www.architecture.com.au provides an invaluable ongoing promotional tool for those architects who committed time and effort to entering. Congratulations to all the chapter winners and I look forward to the national awards, to be presented in Hobart later this year.
The RAIA is continuing to work collaboratively with the Architects Accreditation Council of Australia and the Association of Consulting Architects of Australia to represent a strong and united front in relation to revisions to the various architects acts in most states and territories. The RAIA and AACA have also been working to develop guide documents in relation to a National Code of Conduct and the framework for continuing professional development, as well as guidelines for Professional Indemnity Insurance. The RAIA is also continuing to work actively with Professions Australia in relation to promoting the adoption of consistent professional standards legislation in all states and territories. Our membership levels continue to show a five per cent increase on the same time last year, an encouraging and ›› refreshing trend that ensures the RAIA will continue to represent the majority of architects in Australia.
On a sadder note, I report the passing on 8 May 2003 of Emeritus Professor Richard Norman (Peter) Johnson, AC. Peter was a Life Fellow of the RAIA, a past President and, in 1985, a winner of the RAIA’s highest honour, the Gold Medal. He was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1979 and a Companion in the Order of Australia in 2002, and honourary doctorates were bestowed on him by the University of Technology, Sydney, and the University of Sydney. Peter made an outstanding lifelong contribution to the architectural profession. On behalf of the membership of the RAIA, my condolences are extended to Peter’s family and friends.
David Parken FRAIA, HONAIA