From the National President

National President, Ken Maher. Photo by Brett Boardman

30 January, 2017

Welcome to 2017, an exciting year for our Institute with an interesting program of activities, an ambitious agenda to give architecture a stronger voice, and more access and support to members through enhanced digital access.

Last Thursday, five outstanding members of our profession received Australia Day Honours for their dedication to the profession and the community. On behalf of the Institute I would like to congratulate the late Alastair Swayn who was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (award w.e.f. 23 May 2016); John McInerney, Robert Morris-Nunn and Aija Thomas who were made Members of the Order of Australia and Alan Synman who received a Medal of the Order of Australia.

March is the first meeting following our current Council elections. I want to welcome and congratulate all Chapter Councillors already elected. Congratulations also to Yvette Breytenbach (Tasmania), Mario Dreosti (SA) and Andrew Nimmo (NSW) who were all elected unopposed as Chapter Presidents. The elections for nationally elected National Councillors, the remaining Chapter Councillors and Chapter Presidents will open on the 31st January, so I encourage you all to exercise your democratic rights and vote, as unlike in politics voting is not compulsory – maybe we should consider that! Enormous thanks are due to our outgoing National and Chapter Councillors, and all candidates for the elections this year. Our Institute is dependent on active engagement of members for its culture, relevance, and effectiveness, so we are indebted to you all.

Preparations are well underway for the major event of our calendar this year – the 2017 National Architecture Conference in Sydney, 4-6 May – and we will be launching the stimulating program soon. This year sees the return to a more classic format with a strong focus on design, exploring the work of exceptional practitioners from around the globe with intensive presentations as well as a super session on the future of cities in collaboration with PIA. The theme of ‘PRAXIS: Process. Propositions. Production.’ will allow exploration of significant projects through the intentions, modes of practice, and their making. International and local speakers have been selected who represent thoughtful, relevant and distinctive ways of practicing from a range of locations and cultures, engaging in the academies as well as projects. A stimulating fringe program will allow exploration of Sydney projects and interaction with local architects. It is the annual opportunity to connect with colleagues from around the country, so I hope you are able to join in, and book early to be part of this celebration of architecture and the limited places in the fringe events.

Following the outstanding success of our participation (The Pool) in last year’s International Architecture Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia, which was our most visited exhibition ever – you will note in the recent invitation for expressions of interest for the role of Creative Director (or curatorial team) for the 2018 Exhibition. Submissions close on 26 February. An exciting difference for this Biennale is the recent announcement of Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara of the Irish practice Grafton Architects as the 16th curators of the Venice Architecture Biennale in advance of our selection, thus allowing applicants to take into account the overall agenda for the Biennale in positioning our pavilion’s exhibition.

In the recent announcement, President of the Venice Biennale, Paolo Baratta said:

‘The exhibition curated by Alejandro Aravena…underlined how important it is that a qualified demand on the part of individuals and communities be met by an equally effective response, thereby confirming that architecture is one of civil society’s instruments for organising the space in which it lives and works. Along these lines, Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara will continue to address the same theme but from the point of view of the quality of the public and private space, of urban space, of the territory and of the landscape as the main ends of architecture.’

‘The curators, who are well-known for the refinement of their work, are also known for their intense didactic activity and their ability to involve and fascinate new generations,’ added Baratta.

Farrell and McNamara won the Silver Lion at the 2012 Biennale for their project for UTEC at the University in Lima, Peru which also recently won the inaugural RIBA International Award.

It promises to be another outstanding demonstration of the significance and value of architecture as agency, extending the agenda to embrace landscape and urbanism. I look forward to some excellent proposals for the Australian exhibition.


Ken Maher
National President