The NSW Chapter of the Australians Institute of Architects (the Institute) strongly supports key recommendations made by the authors of the final Opal Tower report released last week.
These recommendations include: creating a database of government-registered engineers; imposing independent third-party checks of critical design elements throughout high-rise construction; and creating a new Building Structure Review Board to establish and publish facts relating to major structural damage of buildings arising from structural design and construction, to investigate their causes and to recommend regulatory changes as needed.
Chapter President Kathlyn Loseby congratulated the government again on moves to implement the majority of recommendations ensuing from last year’s Shergold-Weir report, Building Confidence and urged for these new recommendations to be taken up also.
‘The Institute has been at the forefront of industry calls for better regulation and enforcement of Australia’s building and construction industry,’ Ms Loseby said. ‘In particular, we stand in support of measures that bring the regulation of other building practitioners closer into line with the standards applicable to professionals like architects.’
‘Events of the past few years, be they Opal Tower here in Sydney only recently or Lacrosse down in Melbourne in 2014, have eroded the public’s trust in the safety or our built environment. It is imperative that governments around the country act to restore that confidence. Implementing key recommendations from the final Opal Tower report in NSW will be an important step toward this.’
The Institute is also calling for the procurement of building projects to prioritise quality, which too often suffers with the emphasis placed on reducing construction cost and time. ‘Yes, increasing quality will increase the construction costs and time,’ said Ms Loseby. ‘But throwing people out of an unsafe building costs substantially more and takes longer to fix – as does stakeholder confidence.
‘Quality must become the top priority,’ she continued. ‘We want a built environment where you can walk your children down the street, stop in a café for an ice cream, shop for your groceries, grab a book from the library, and return home all the while feeling safe and secure.’