The publication of this issue of Architecture Australia [May 2012] arrives soon after the National Architecture Conference.
I hope that many of you went to Brisbane and enjoyed this fantastic event, being enthralled by the speakers, enlivened by the get-togethers and inspired by the tours that the program offered, as well as relishing the opportunity to catch up with colleagues from around the country and beyond.
Given the theme of “experience” by creative directors Shane Thompson, Michael Rayner and Peter Skinner, the conference drew together an incredible range of local and international architects whose work is renowned for its experiential beauty. Kjetil Thorsen from Norway’s Snohetta, Peter Rich from South Africa, Wang Shu from China’s Amateur Architecture Studio and Koji Tsutsui, winner at the World Architecture Festival, were among the keynote speakers invited to discuss the importance of the direct physical experience of architecture in our image-rich world. Held in Brisbane for the first time in twenty years, this year’s conference was also a great opportunity to personally experience the recent and historic architecture of one of Australia’s fastest-growing cities.
The conference was one of the last events I will attend as the national president, as the end of May will mark the end of my tenure.
The past twelve months have invigorated, educated and challenged me beyond expectation. I am in awe of the work that members are doing, both here and overseas – in design, of course, but also in policy, academia and humanitarian work – as extraordinary advocates for architecture.
As this is my last foreword, I would like to reflect on some of the many highlights of my tenure.
In June 2011 I attended the Built Environment Meets Parliament (BEMP) conference, which advocates the value of good city planning and design to parliamentarians and decision makers across the nation. It included a timely discussion on resilience, how to reduce future losses from natural disasters and how to help impacted communities to recover.
I travelled to Tokyo with Institute CEO David Parken in September to attend the International Union of Architects’ 24th World Congress of Architecture, where we explored the future of architecture and cities. The congress saw the end of Louise Cox’s three-year tenure as the union’s president. In this role she was committed to making the union an inclusive, respectful, tolerant and visionary organization.
The year 2011 closed with the National Architecture Awards, of course, which brought together outstanding designs from around the country and demonstrated the far-reaching scope of our profession.
In March, the 2012 Australian Achievement in Architecture Awards (AAAA) were held in Adelaide. Among the awards presented was the highest honour the Australian Institute of Architects can bestow, the Gold Medal for Architecture. This year the medal was awarded to Lawrence Nield, who has made an outstanding contribution to architecture for more than forty-five years.
Throughout my tenure as president I have been privileged to experience the very best of our profession. Later this month, I will pass this great honour to National President Elect Shelley Penn. Shelley is a Melbourne-based sole practitioner who mixes the fine scale of residential work with the big picture of working with government in various ways to advance the quality of design in the built environment. Shelley is the director of Shelley Penn Architects and a former Associate Victorian Government Architect. She has been actively involved with the Institute for many years: she has chaired or been a member of awards juries sixteen times; been a member of various committees, including the Victorian Practice Committee; was a Victorian Chapter councillor; and since 2009 has been a national councillor.
Over the course of the past twelve months I have had the pleasure of working quite closely with Shelley. She has impressed me with her ready intelligence, her resilience and her great passion for the profession and I very much look forward to working with her in my role as Immediate Past President.
Before I sign off, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank David Parken, fellow councillors, Institute staff and corporate partners for all of their support during my tenure.
The Institute is in very good hands.
Australian Institute of Architects
Published online: 25 Jul 2012
Words: Brian Zulaikha
Architecture Australia, May 2012