To all Victorian members, thank you for granting me the honour to serve as Victorian Chapter President and for electing the first Chapter Council with more female than male members.
This is a significant milestone for gender equity in our profession. Well done to all our newly elected Councillors – Clare Cousins, Stuart Harrison (second term) Kim Irons, Ann Lau, Amy Muir and Shelley Roberts (fourth term). A big thank you should be given to our retiring Councillors – Jose Alfonso (eight years) and Alex Nock (four years) for their service.
I would also like to say thank you to Jon Clements for his tireless work over the past two years as Victorian Chapter President. Jon has now been elected to National Council and also been successfully nominated as the forthcoming National President for 2015, where he will continue his excellent work and advocacy.
On 3 March our former Governor General, the Honourable Quentin Bryce AD CVO, officially opened 41X – the new Melbourne home for the Institute. Prior to the opening, Welcome to Country was beautifully delivered by Aunty Di Wells, which reminded us all of our commitments and goals in the Reconciliation Action Plan. Also present at the opening were the National President, Paul Berkemeier, our CEO, David Parken and COO, Ross Clark, and Victorian Chapter Manager, Alison Cleary – all of who have made great contributions in the design and implementation of the project. I would also like to acknowledge the seven past National Presidents, including our own Karl Fender and Shelley Penn, for their support of this ambitious National project.
Our new building is a testament to the professional, entrepreneurial and sustainable spirit of the Institute. A big thank you must go to Lyons and HASSELL for their architectural and interior design expertise, and the contractor – Hickory Constructions. The versatile facilities will allow a far greater variety of both public and member activities, including more informal engagement, with a series of Paper-bag Lunches and Friday night gatherings already planned.
The café and bookshop are now also open and trading, adding a layer of vertical retail to this part of the city.
In late March, the Architect Victoria Editorial Committee welcomed new members and farewelled some long standing ones. I thank our departing committee members Reg Rippon (17 years), Dee Neville (9 years) and Larry Cirillo (7 years) for their service to the Chapter’s publication. We welcome new committee members Vlad Doudakliev, Virginia Mannering and Simon Whibley, and congratulate our new Editorial Committee Chair, Anna Jeffery.
Our Autumn edition theme – Sustainability – is a topic at the crossroads. The battle for improved building performance has largely been won and is now regulated by NCC Section J and aspirational standards such as Green Star and NABERS. However, systems of regulation are no substitute for good design.
Sceptics say that Green design is often invoked for sales, marketing and promotional reasons, rather than real environmental goals – often with justification of ‘Green washing’. The radical ideological view has been successfully commercialised to a significant degree.
Meanwhile, our suburbs continue to expand like an economic spreadsheet into the landscape.
Taller and taller developments overshadow our city and create windy streets without character or social diversity. Multi-unit design standards are currently and noticeably inadequate to control the quality of development.
Our sustainable future lies in our past.
Take Rome as an example – it has been a great city for thousands of years and remains a monument to sustainable human endeavour.
The utter joy of it, Fiats and Vespas pushing their bumpers into 2,000 year old stones, the smell of fresh market vegetables and cooking, and the simple love of life – that should be our goal.
Japan is also illuminating. Combining a deep respect for nature, care for traditional cultural forms, and a desire for modernity and technology – Japan is a fabulous triangle of considerate ideas.
We can learn from our traditional settlement patterns with tightly crossed streets and the economic and social possibilities of diversity and fine grain. The homestead with its deep verandahs and natural surrounds is a cliché in the modern world, but embodies climatic, spatial and social ingenuity.
There are lessons to be learned from the optimistic post-war years, when Grounds Romberg Boyd, Borland McIntyre and John and Phyllis Murphy, and Yunken Freeman Griffith Simpson created beautiful, sensible, timeless buildings with minimal means.
Our indigenous heritage, with its origins in fire and care for the land. A diversity of language groups adapting technologically to their natural environments with minimal impact. This may be our greatest text. For instance – I was recently captivated by designer Alison Page talking about a hospital development with a campground alongside for visitors – what a beautiful combination of the modern and the ancient.
Rome has lasted thousands of years, we understand and love this. The indigenous settlement of Australia has lasted continuously for 50,000 years – one of humanity’s greatest achievements.
The Victorian Chapter’s Reconciliation Action Plan was published in 2010 and is available on the Institute website.
Clarification Notes – 2014 Architect Victoria Summer edition
Page 26: Bendigo’s ‘good commerce’ – the Bendigo Hospital should be credited to both Bates Smart and Silver Thomas Hanley.
Page 40: OVGA Message – where it is written ‘Melbourne Planning and Design’, should read as ‘Melbourne Planning and Design Centre’.