A 2022 REPORT FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR NT CHAPTER
Well, 2022 slipped away quickly, especially after the two previous years of the pandemic. This year Rossi Kourounis took on the role of President for the NT with a big thank you to Jenny Culgan for the previous four years. Congratulations Rossi and thanks to Jenny. Although we are a small office with Karen and myself we like to remind everyone that we are small and mighty especially looking at the programs we deliver over the year. We delivered high quality events, CPD and networking, as well as a successful awards evening and our built environment ‘jingle and mingle’ event a couple of weeks ago. We have met with and lobbied for good policy development and implementation to improve the lives of all Territorians. We have supported our students through the SONA project with representatives from CDU as well as our chapter hosting the online universities SONA group. Our EmAGN has also been very busy delivering some great innovative programs as well as us supporting them to become registered architects.
The NT Chapter Awards were held at Darwin Golf Club Marrara. With the weather providing a dramatic storm in the distance including a brilliant lightning show for the event which saw over 130 people in attendance. The Awards would not be successful without our wonderful partners and sponsors including the Northern Territory Government (through the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics), Gerflor, QS Services, WSP, Rossi Architects with the Chapter securing our new Sponsors Powerconcepts Electrical and Fire Security. Congratulations to all the Award winners in 2022 including DKJ Projects Architecture who took out the Tracy Memorial Award for the Royal Darwin Hospital Cyclotron. We must thank our Jury Chair, Emilio Fuscaldo and jury members, Dr. Deepika Mathur and Kevin Peters.
JINGLE AND MINGLE – End of Year Built Environment celebration.
Along with the Australian Institute of Architects, the following industry groups from the Built Environment joined in to celebrate the end of the Year at Mindil Beach Casino Resort on 2nd December
- Engineers Australia (NT)
- Design Institute of Australia (NT)
- Urban Development Institute of Australia (NT)
- Planning Institute of Australia (NT)
- Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (NT)
- Consult Australia (NT)
- National Women in Construction (NT)
- Australian Water Association (NT)
- Australian Institute of Project Management (NT)
Along with the institute, these groups secured sponsorship to ensure that all had a wonderful time. Bluescope Steel, iTravel Darwin, Christie BBQ’s and Winya provided some great door and game prizes.
Our Gold sponsor for this event was ALSPEC with silver sponsors being Tarkett and NAWIC (NT). Green sponsors included: Pritchard Francis, AECOM, MLEI, GHD Woodhead, Beacon Lighting, Douglas Partners, Engineers Australia, Aurecon and SLR.
Thanks must go to Shani from Engineers Australia and Samuel Hare (AILA) for assisting with this event.
2022 Advocacy and policy submissions and outcomes.
ARCHITECTS ACT RECOMMENDATIONS
The Institute continues to advocate for continued recognition of value of architects and improved consumer protection through proposed amendments to the Architects Act 1963 (NT). The Minister for Racing, Gaming and Licensing, the Hon Chanston Paech, met with the Chair of the Board of Architects and the CEO of the AACA in early August and confirmed that the recommendations which were approved by the NT Registration Board will go up to parliament in March 2023 in the second sitting of 2023.
The commitment is to introduce the following provisions:
- Continuing Professional Development – All registered architects should be required to participate regularly in continuing professional development (CPD) that is relevant to their scope of practice. This involves maintaining, developing, updating and enhancing their knowledge, skills and performance.
- Mandatory Professional Indemnity Insurance – All registered architects must not carry out work unless that person is covered by the required insurance, and also provide that this does not apply to persons employed by or working under the supervision of a person who is registered as an architect under this Act and who is covered by the required insurance. The required insurance should be similar in nature to what is required in other jurisdictions.
- Code of conduct – Compliance with a code of conduct by registered architects should be made mandatory in the NT as it is in other jurisdictions. The code should clearly set out the obligations to the general public, clients, colleagues and within the profession and should be consistent with codes of conduct operating in other jurisdictions.
STREAMLINING REGULATORY AND ADMINISTRATIVE PROCESSES IN THE CONSTRUCTION SECTOR
Recently we have highlighted the importance of retaining the NT Architects Board and adopt the above-mentioned recommendations in response to the Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade’s draft report, Streamlining Regulatory and Administrative Processes in the Construction Sector. The Institute believes that the proposed licensing reforms proposed in the draft report will not only lessen consumer protection but result in the Northern Territory being totally out of step with every other Australian jurisdiction, particularly with regard to Automatic Mutual Recognition, and the National Competency Standards for Architecture that underpin the university accreditation process.
As way of background: the architectural profession comprises of highly qualified university-trained persons who generally, on the major pathway to registration, have undertaken an undergraduate (bachelor’s) degree and a subsequent AQF Level 9 master’s degree (Master of Architecture). In addition, a person with their AQF Level 9 qualification is required to attain 3,300 hours of employed, supervised and ‘logged’ practice that demonstrates National Standard of Competency for Architects (NSCA) competency attainment as a “graduate” before making application to the NT Architects Board to undertake the Architectural Practice Examinations (APE). At the successful completion of the APE, a person then applies for registration with the Board, and can only then use the title ‘Architect’.
NATIONAL CONSTRUCTION CODE IMPLEMENTATION AND RESPONDING TO CLIMATE CHANGE
Architects deem action in response to climate change as critical. Sustainability, planning for green infrastructure and decarbonisation of the built environment are necessary elements of this action.
The Institute advocates for a zero-carbon construction industry by 2030, as our built environment accounts for 39% of all carbon emissions, globally, with operational emissions accounting for 28%. Members are actively committing to Carbon Neutral practices and the Institute has also embarked on its own “Carbon Neutral” journey. The Institute has called on the Australian Government to establish a national plan towards zero carbon buildings by 2030 that can be supported and led where appropriate by state and local government.
The Institute has boldly advocated for significant National Construction Code amendments and transitionary adoption in the Territory:
- Support lifting energy performance standards for new homes in the NCC update 2022 nationally to 7 stars (NatHERS equivalent) and the introduction of a ‘whole-of-home’ energy budget for fixed appliances (heating and colling, hot water, lighting and pool and spa pumps).
- Continue to advocate for appropriate transitionary arrangements for the NT adoption of NCC 2022 provisions.
- Support lifting energy efficiency standards for commercial buildings through adoption of NCC 2019 Volume 1 Section J provisions as quickly as possible. The Institute has acknowledged the benefits of this adoption through proven operational cost savings, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, health and work productivity benefits and NT Government visibility toward meeting the commitments in the Climate Change Response: Towards 2050 Plan.
DESIGNING BETTER AND PLANNING REFORM
As you are aware the Institute has been working closely with the departments on planning reform and the designing better report. The Territory Economic Reconstruction Commission (TERC)/Designing Better Planning Scheme Amendment (Planning Reform Phase 2 Stage 1) completed statutory re-exhibition on 30 September 2022, and the NT Planning Commission held a public hearing on 2 November 2022 to hear submissions from both statutory exhibition periods.
The Department is currently finalising its reports and documentation before making a recommendation to the Minister for Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics for a final decision to include the proposed changes in the NTPS 2020.
The Institute has been working closely with the department on all the changes to meet the needs and complex issues we work under in the NT. This process should be an example on how good policy development needs time and consideration to get things right. We are looking forward to working through the next phases in 2023.
BUILDING CONFIDENCE REPORT IMPLEMENTATION
The Building Advisory Committee (BAC) have been working through the first tranche of items raised to be addressed from the building confidence report and has been advising the minister on the implementation of the third-party review for structural design and registration of commercial builders in the NT. The later has proven challenging with a lot of time spent in discussion about thresholds with complex buildings. We are about to start work on the tranche 2 items in the new year when the focus items are supplied to the BAC.
The Institute welcomes the decision to adopt section J in the NCC and the liveable housing design guidelines and will assist with preparing the architects for this.
The Institute has been working on a remote housing project which is a subcommittee of the NT Chapter Council. A key part of this has been looking at some of the standard housing designs as there are serious concerns raised with us that the designs are not conforming to NTG Guidelines and the NCC. The NT architects working on this project work across the NT with extensive work in remote communities. They have reviewed some of the designs directly against the guidelines. This is not an attack on the designs it is trying to highlight inconsistencies and work out a way forward for the best outcomes possible for indigenous people.
Australian and international research provides evidence that good design and architecture lead to improved livability. Almost all Australians (97 percent) believe that cities and towns are better to live in when public buildings and public spaces are well-designed.
Governments are a central influence in delivering on community expectations of how the built environment will support Australian society and economy. In part, this is because governments across Australia are a large procurer of buildings accounting for one-third of non-residential buildings. In turn, well-designed, liveable places become centres of social and economic activity creating sustainable, long-term returns on taxpayer-funded investments.
Most Australian states and territories maintain the position of a Government Architect to provide leadership and independent strategic advice to the government in relation to architecture and urban design.
Including a role as an advisor on connecting with Country at a national level will support better work practices, relationship building and delivery of better-built environment outcomes that are informed and guided by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s knowledge.
We continue to advocate for and recommend to the Northern Territory government to appoint a new Northern Territory Government Architect who could strategically play a crucial role in NT’s ongoing economic development and align NT with most states and territories in Australia. The Government Architect can add value to government by:
- Strategic project and design advisory guidance.
- Leadership advocacy regarding benefits of good design and impact of built environment issues on community ensuring successful outcomes for the NT government.
- Leadership in the development of policy and guidelines to improve quality of the built environment, such as: planning reform initiatives, building regulation reform, procurement of major works projects and planning for climate change.
- Research and benchmarking to ensure government activity aligns with community expectations and broader Australia
SONA was quiet in 2022 but we had a meet n greet in March at CDU, SuperStudio along with celebrating the Emerging Architect Prize Tour with Dino Vrynios. We are pleased to advise that Albertina (Tina) Ugwu will be the new SONA representative for 2023. Albertina has shown a keen interest in leadership as NT Chapter representative. Students also attended the many activities that were organized by the EmAGN team (see below).
The EmAGN team co-chaired by Bec Kerr and Marc Pillar were instrumental on bringing on some great initiatives in 2022, including:
- NT Archive – The Northern Territory Architecture Archive (NTAA) is a growing catalogue of architectural works maintained by the Emerging Architects and Graduates Network (EmAGN) NT committee. Its purpose is to recognise, promote and celebrate architecture from across the NT. This will be a web-based program due to be launched in 2023.
- Tours of Buildings and facilities including George Brown Garden Visitor Centre and ACIKE building at CDU
- Bushtucker Cultural Tour – This tour was coordinated in conjunction with AILA NT and with the assistance of Leslie Gordon (a Larrakia traditional owner from the Shepherd family group) and June Mills (a traditional owner of Larrakia Land). The tour focused on Bushtucker typically found around Lake Alexander and East Point. Moving forward it is proposed to host this event on an annual basis.
- RegiFrustration events included Running your own Practice and Contracts 101, Logbook and Registration and more.
- EmAGN Co-chairs are currently on the look out for new committee members who will contribute to the many activities and events. If you are interested in being involved please contact email@example.com.
I would like to thank the Chapter Council and members of the committees for the work that they have done over the year. I would like to thank Karen for the amazing work she has done, not just here, but on some national programs as well.
Finally, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy new year. We are looking forward to an exciting 2023.
 WorldGBC (2019). New report: the building and construction sector can reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Source: https://www.worldgbc.org/news-media/WorldGBC-embodied-carbon-report-published
 The Benefit of Design, prepared for Architects Accreditation Council of Australia, Galaxy Research, June 2015
 A total of $55.2 billion of non-residential building projects were granted building approvals across Australia in the 12 months to November 2021 with public sector works representing 34% of this total. Building Approvals, Australia November 2021. Sourced from: https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/industry/building-and-construction/building-approvals-australia/latest-release