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VANESSA BIRD, VICTORIAN CHAPTER PRESIDENT

President's  Message

You the members, are to be applauded for electing a diverse Chapter Council (well, as diverse as 12 architects in a room can be). I am thrilled to take over from Peter Malatt as Chapter President. Chapter Council are diverse in age, gender and the size of practices we represent. Again we have gender equity on Council, as do many other states. We have several sole practitioners, good representation from medium practice and several Councillors from large practice, as well as the SONA rep Troy Borg and EmAGN rep Thom McKenzie. Our generational diversity, although erring on the younger side, will match experience with enthusiasm. So why is this a good thing – apart from being representative of the membership and the society we design for? Diversity results in a higher ability to identify and solve complex problems, it results in increased innovation, better financial performance, and increased corporate reputation. Congratulations to our newly elected Councillors, Rosemary Burne, Adam Pustola, Fiona Winzar and Monique Woodward.

I would like to thank out-going Councillors Stuart Harrison, Ann Lau, Shelley Roberts and Clare Cousins for services to the membership. Shelley Roberts tirelessly served on Council for 8 years including quite a few years on the Members Services Committee and the successful co-ordination of public outreach events including Friday Night X, and Melbourne Architecture Annual. Clare Cousins departs Chapter Council following her successfully election to National Council. Victorians remain well represented on National Council. Clare and I are both new to National Council, serving alongside fellow Victorian, National President Jon Clements.

On behalf of Chapter Council and the Institute I sincerely thank the ever present Peter Malatt for his contribution during his 2-year term as Chapter President. Peter has raised the public profile of the Institute through his engagement with the media. His support and encouragement of younger members has been tremendous as has his contribution to the Venice Biennale. Peter has worked effectively on the issues of his term such as on apartment standards and with the VBA on recommendations following the Lacrosse fire. You will continue to see Peter at events as Immediate Past President.

The Institute continues to push hard on Apartment Standards, advocating for minimum metric standards with a design review process for varying the standards based on merit, amenity, innovation and site context. Alongside the OVGA we have advocated for the use of architects on developments over 3 storeys. A draft document is scheduled to be tabled by Minister Wynne in the near future with the anticipated introduction of guidelines by August this year. Thank you to Peter Malatt, Karen Alcock, and Alison Cleary for their work on this. Also thanks to Ken Maher National President elect for providing advice on the Sydney experience of SEPP 65 to the Minister’s office.

Advocacy continues to be a Chapter centred priority. This month the Chapter has responded with zoning reform recommendations to the Managing Residential Development Advisory Committee, advocating for prioritising good design over height to allow for density and diversity of housing typologies, for appropriate and innovative forms of development based on the merits of the design response, and for consistent application of planning principles. Thank you to Rob Stent, Robert Goodliffe, Bart Curnow and Alison Cleary for pulling this together.

Busy times: hot on the heels of the National Conference in Adelaide, this month sees the opening of The ‘Pool’ the first Venice Architecture Biennale to be shown in the newly designed DCM pavilion. This event is to be well attended and sponsored by Victorians.

Congratulations and thank you to guest editor Mark Raggatt for putting together this issue on Architecture and Technology.

This has been a long list of thank yous, but one last one in advance to Neil de la Coeur who will be bearing an increased load both in our office and at home during my Presidency. I look forward to engaging with the profession on all levels, gaining new perspective to expand the relevance of architecture by communicating the value of design and delivery. Finally, we welcome Jennifer Cunich as our new Chief Executive Officer this month at a time of organisational renewal.