Lost In Space
Am I alone in being entirely underwhelmed by the RAIA 2002 Convention? From the outset the program had me struggling to engage, and leaves me wondering why “the premier design industry event” barely managed to raise a pulse.
Despite securing a free media pass I still feel shortchanged. The prime reason is the program, which fluctuated wildly. A few brain snacks were tossed out in fragmentary fashion, but in three days of shabby drifting the highlights were intermittent. The weekday timing and hefty fee also ensured the event was inaccessible to the crucial younger crowd. In addition, a vacuum-packed schedule restricted key speakers and prevented extensive discussion. These speakers were granted free participation only on the day of their presentation – a bonus in some cases, but hardly a generous encouragement of the debate.
As a relatively new European import (and recent Australian citizen) I’m happy to concede that perhaps I am observing the architectural scene from a simplistic perspective, but the fact that the conference failed to compel so many of my contemporaries suggests the RAIA is running on autopilot in cosy isolation. The non-attendees I spoke to showed a weary contempt for its authenticity and a reluctance to associate. This problematic relationship deserves close attention, as both sides seem to be travelling at different wavelengths, barely coinciding and stockpiling indifference. Private discussions remain rife and vicious, but are not involved. Whilst the profession continues to play dead there is little hope for simultaneity of exchange in Australia. By all accounts previous RAIA conferences were more successful, but if 2003 offers the equivalent of an architectural coma I would rather spend $700 on a pile of books and three days off-piste with a few friends. With any luck we could discover a way to shortcircuit the gloomy inevitability of our own architectural future.
Catherine Martin, AA Dipl. RIBA
• With regard to the review of the Adelaide Convention Centre (March/April 2002), Lu Balsamo, of Hassell, points out that Hassell was responsible for the masterplanning and detailed design of the Riverbank Promenade, along with its implementation on behalf of the Major Projects Group of the DAIS. We apologise for the inadvertent impression that Woods Bagot/SOM, designers of the convention centre, were also responsible for the promenade.