The theme of the 2012 National Architecture Conference is experience.
Building on ideas introduced in the recent natural artifice conference we wish to focus closely on the real, sensed experience of our architecture within its natural and constructed settings and the experience of designing and making architecture.
In today’s cluttered visual and virtual world we are increasingly seduced by the eye-catching intricacy of form, surface and pattern. Imagery is increasingly objectified and novelty has become a commercial commodity. It is a natural physiological response to be instantly stimulated and intrigued by the unexpected. As a survival technique we need to respond rapidly by examining, categorising and assessing the new. The intellectual pleasures we derive from discovery and surprise and the emotional frisson of the new are important responses that have served our species well through evolution.
So, too, has our ability to make calm, deep and profound judgements based on the full evidence of our senses and our considered experience over time.
Experience takes the long view of architecture. We need reminding to be wary of beauty that is merely skin-deep. Beyond the first blush of encounter, the twittering hubbub of excitement, the web’s ‘like’ at first sight, we ask an old question – will we still respect this building tomorrow? Will this remain an inviting place to stop, an enjoyable building to occupy, an uplifting residence to dwell in or a great city to inhabit as it ages? Will it provide delight throughout the day, comfort through the seasons and be of lasting significance across generations?
A distinguished group of keynote speakers have been invited to discuss the experience of their buildings, the experience of their settings, the experience of their design and construction, the experience of their users and inhabitants, and the enduring experience of architecture. These are not trivial questions.
Our generation is experiencing history’s most rapid convergence of population growth, urbanisation, resource depletion, environmental degradation and climatic challenge within a rapidly shifting geo-political and economic dynamic. This is not the time to be beguiled by baubles and gilt.
As architects we all draw from our own hard-won experience. We intellectually learn from history, theory, opinions and advice, but our most fundamental core values are inevitably built on a personal memory of buildings we have lived with, buildings we have visited, buildings we have built and buildings that are the focus of our reflections. On the occasion of our annual conference, we meet with national and international colleagues to share these experiences.
It would be ironic if a conference dedicated to experience were to be conducted solely through auditorium based discussion and visual presentations. In 2012, for the first time in more than twenty years, the conference is to be held in Brisbane. As many delegates may not have spent significant time in Queensland in recent years, the creative directors are keen to share the direct experience of the sub-tropical river city in May.
On the Thursday before and the Sunday after the conference we will offer a rich range of tours and events to be hosted by Queensland’s leading architects. Bus tours from the Sunshine Coast or Gold Coast airports into Brisbane will provide opportunities to see our rapidly growing coastal cities. There will be sunrise tours for serious cyclists and self-guided walking, ferry and city-cycle tours for the more sedate. We are keen for delegates to take part in the extended program of morning and afternoon tours to some of the most significant award-winning public and private architecture of recent years. It will be necessary to book quickly when tickets come on sale to avoid disappointment.
Parallel events, exhibitions and displays associated with the conference will be offered within the venue at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre. The conference venue is in Brisbane’s lively South Bank, overlooking the Brisbane CBD and adjacent to the highly awarded Queensland Art Gallery, State Library of Queensland and Gallery of Modern Art.
Support from Queensland’s four architecture schools has been enthusiastic. Events organised for students and young architects, by SONA and EMAGN members, will be truly memorable. As this is the first national conference in Brisbane in a long, long, time, it promises to be an experience not to be missed.
We invite you all to share the experience.