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Feature article

Institute  news

Winter 2016

Victorian Chapter Council

Alison Cleary


The 2016 Constructive Mentoring Program kicked off slightly later than usual in late May. We are extremely pleased to have AWS on board again as sponsor for the program, and they also sponsored this year’s International Women’s Day Breakfast. Participant numbers in this year’s program are lower than previous years as it is becoming harder to recruit willing mentors to resource the numbers of potential mentees. In 2017 we are going to directly invite Fellows to become mentors.

The 2016 Awards program was again highly successful, with 197 entries – the same as in 2015. The Awards Presentation Dinner went off without a hitch, with 770 people having a great night celebrating their, and their peers’ successes. Media coverage of this year’s awards again focussed on the current public debate around apartment standards.

This quarter we held 2 Regional meetings with the informal Geelong group. We are hoping to also host meetings with Ballarat and Bendigo, and hold another on the Mornington Peninsula. This work is supported by Kim Irons, Chapter Councillor, who is herself a regional member.

In March we held this first of this year’s cross industry events, with a networking event at 41X for members of the Institute, AILA and PIA. The topic for the evening was Grade Separations (level crossing removals), a current hot topic in Melbourne. We had speakers present from all 3 disciplines and a very engaged audience of approx. 90 people. The next event will be held in August and will be focussing on urban transport mobility. We continue to engage with the Government on the development of apartment standards. We provided a response to the confidential industry options paper in May and are now waiting for the final public options paper to be released by the Minister for Planning. This is due for release in August and we will provide feedback on this final draft.

In April we presented to Planning Panels on our submission to the Residential Zones Reform process. We are still waiting on the outcome of that review but anticipate that there will be quite a lot of change in that space.

In May the Government released a draft amendment to the planning code – Melbourne C270 – that deals with height limits and floor area uplifts. They have revised the interim controls introduced in August 2015 and are proposing the introduction of 18:1 ratios with a range of public benefit options available to developers to enable them to gain uplift beyond this. We made a short written submission on the entirety of the amendment and will make a presentation to Planning Panels in mid-August. We have also continued to meet with the Dept. of Planning (DEWLP) on the matter of the registration of project managers. This year’s Open House Melbourne, held in the last weekend of July, saw over 20 tours of 41X run by Lyons Architecture with support from Institute staff. Close to 800 people came and heard the story of the building from the architects themselves plus enjoyed the views from the roof. Public engagement at its best all crammed in to one weekend!


Practice of Architecture Committee

Kim Irons


As mentioned in the last news, the Practice of Architecture Committee is developing approaches to inform members of issues of practice. Victorian members will be seeing ‘Practice Odd Spots’ in Midweek news.The idea is to flag to members issues and incidents that can arise. Some are gentle reminders of the rigour required in recording information. Other ‘odd spots’ are anecdotal stories that we have become aware of through queries to Senior Councillors or experiences of the committee members themselves.

While we will continue with other input to suggested continued professional development topics, editing and nomination of new practice notes, we are hopeful the ‘odd spots’ will be more immediate in keeping members informed


Sustainable Architecture Forum

Neville Cowland

This year the Sustainable Architecture Forum has a reinvigorated focus that aims to encourage more discussion and sharing of knowledge through a less formal style of meeting.

The style of meeting is modelled on the Small and Medium Practice Forums, where a 15 to 20 minute presentation on a specific topic is highlighted, followed by related and topical discussion. Following that are general discussions about current issues and events of interest such as the Graduate Prize in Sustainable Architecture, competitions such as The Living Building Challenge, current research and other events relating to sustainability.

Through this, the SAF group identifies and discusses pertinent advocacy issues, makes recommendations for policy and contributes ideas and topics on sustainability for CPD programs. To continue to develop and make this a rich and diverse forum, there is the need to include more opinions and expertise – so interested practices and individuals are encouraged to get involved and come along to the monthly meetings.

This refocus aligns to the Institute’s consolidated 3 pillars of Advocacy, Education and Membership.

Sustainability encompasses a wider area than just rating tools. Ongoing liveability and the use of technology to enhance sustainable practices are items of interest to the SAF group.

In addition to the wealth of knowledge presented from the core group, other expertise from connected people and organisations are welcomed into the SAF discussion.

Nadine Samaha reported back from a recent seminar she attended: ‘Cities- The new frontier of climate action’ which generated discussion around the applicability of C40 and the action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The main mission of this initiative to take action about climate change and indicated that the whole point of the C40 and the Paris agreement is to adopt a more “bottom up” approach to empower the citizens to take action.

Neville Cowland of NOWarchitecture presented on the latest technologies enabling the move towards low energy, sustainable appliances and techniques for sustainable buildings.

Ross Harding of Finding Infinity presented an overview of extensive sustainability projects he has been involved in worldwide. He emphasised that it’s the social, not political or financial barriers that hold back progress and highlighted the ways to engage people and show the economic returns of sustainable practices in projects.

The next meeting will have Jody Williams from PMTL present on the topic of VCAT decisions based on ESD amendments to planning policies in local councils.


Awards Committee

Amy Muir


Once again, Peninsula Docklands hosted a sell-out 2016 Victorian Architecture Awards dinner and celebration on Friday 24 June. From a total field of 197 entries there were 29 Awards, 17 Commendations and 3 Victorian Prizes presented on the night, marking yet another rich year of Victorian projects.

The night and crowd were successfully corralled and very much entertained by the evening’s MC, Libbi Gorr. It was also wonderful having National President Ken Maher in attendance particularly given that there were 5 state Award events being held nationally across the weekend.

Our Victorian President Vanessa Bird delivered her inaugural Awards speech providing a thought provoking message asking the room why we are giving our intellectual property away? – reminding us all that we need to be working collectively to increase our ‘value’ as architects in order to reverse the devaluation of our role within the construction industry.

Earlier in June the Exhibition of Entries was exhibited at No Vacancy Gallery. This was a successful transition from Federation Square and provided a dedicated, curated exhibition space. The ‘wallpapering’ of projects in order of category offered a great overview of the submitted entries for 2016. The gallery location within the QV precinct also ensured there was consistent public exposure.

A huge thank you to the dedicated team at the Institute, the jurors, the Institute’s generous sponsors, the Awards Committee members, the student workers, and to the large field of entrants for yet another successful year.

Congratulations to all Award recipients, but in particular well done to all entrants. There is a rich culture associated with the Victorian Architecture Awards and this is only made possible with the continued support and dedication of all submitting practices who are continually raising the bar year after year.

And finally, wishing all the 2016 Award recipients all the very best for the upcoming National Architecture Awards which will be announced later in the year.