The SA Chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects has named Matthew Alfred the recipient of the 2020 Jack Hobbs McConnell Travelling Fellowship.
“Jack cited his travelling experience as one of the most valuable of his career, and I’m certain that it had a great bearing on his work in South Australia and beyond. I’m thankful to Jack for turning his experience into this fellowship. For a young designer, being given the chance to travel around the world to study a topic of your choosing is an incredible chance to elevate your practice and your thinking.”
Matthew’s area of study will look at Radical Practice and will use the $15,000 fellowship to investigate local and international practices whose entrepreneurial approaches to architecture are helping the profession to combat economic volatility and create a more diverse practice.
The application has proved to be prescient. In the weeks that followed the submission, COVID-19 hit its stride and the global economy took its worst blow since the 2008 financial crisis. Much of the proposal focussed on the years that followed the GFC, and many of the practices included are those that were established in its wake.
COVID-19 has offered a fresh perspective on architecture in the face of economic troubles, one with a far more measurable metric; How have these practices fared during the crisis?
In investigating these international practices, Matthew hopes to translate their ideas and identify opportunities in South Australia for practitioners to find new territory, ultimately contributing to greater professional stability and a more diverse architectural landscape.
The first step of the investigation will involve taking the pulse of current practice in South Australia. Taking advantage of our time in lockdown a local study will look at offices in Adelaide that are already pushing boundaries as well as identifying some of the barriers that stand in the way of innovation.
Once travel restrictions are lifted, the fellowship will see Matthew travelling to the UK, Europe, the United States and South America to meet with some of the most innovative architects in the world, to see their work, how they practice and to understand the environments that have influenced them.
SA Chapter President Tony Giannone said the Travelling Fellowship provided a unique opportunity for SA practitioners to reflect on their work in an international context just like the founder of the Fellowship, Jack Hobbs McConnell:
“Jack left his mark in the form of architectural excellence in many of his prestigious buildings both in South Australia and in other states. More importantly his emphasis on collaboration and co-operation between South Australian professionals inspired many students and architects to produce better architecture, not only in terms of design, but also of function. We look forward to Matthew’s work continuing this legacy of collegiality in the profession.”
Matthew is a graduate of the School of Architecture and the Built Environment at the University of Adelaide and is currently working at ARM Architecture’s burgeoning Adelaide office. Matthew has focussed much of his energy outside of study and practice on the workings of the architecture profession and its greater societal role.
Throughout the fellowship, Matthew will be sharing his experiences through a written blog and a photo series.
The Jack Hobbs McConnell Travelling Fellowship was established following a bequest from the estate of the late modernist architectural figure Jack Hobbs McConnell who died in 2005 aged 92, the Fellowship is for promising designers, who might ultimately practice in South Australia, to undertake an independent program of research or course of further study in architecture or a related field. The selection committee consisted of Erin Crowden, Williams Burton Leopardi and EmAGN National President; Simon Best, Swanbury Penglase and Dino Vrynios, DAS studio.