From the National President

9 Dec 2013

Last week, National Council met at the Institute’s soon-to-be new Melbourne home, 41 Exhibition St. Over the course of two days, many issues were discussed, debated and resolved.

I am proud to announce a major breakthrough for gender equity in the profession of architecture has been made with National Council officially approving the organisation’s first Gender Equity Policy.

The disparity between male and female representation within the profession has been well documented and a growing concern not only for the Institute as the industry’s representative body but also for members of both genders.

The new policy will provide the foundation for improving operations within the Institute through our governance, programs and services, employment and leadership and will assist our members and the profession more broadly in employing gender equitable practices in their day to day operations.

Watch this space, as we will be covering this landmark decision in more detail next week. In the meantime, you can read our media release here.

Among other items tabled were changes to the National Architecture Awards International Award category, the election of senior councillors in Queensland, the Acumen content review panel, changes in federal government and the value of design.

Council also had the pleasure of touring the new building as well as attending the launch of Inspire 2014.

As the year draws to a close, I will take this opportunity to reflect on the past year, and look forward to 2014.

Early in the year, the Institute was part of an ‘urban coalition’ that called for ‘A New Deal for Urban Australia’, which aligned with our push for a federal government ‘champion’ for cities and urban areas.

We also successfully campaigned with the Scrap the Cap alliance to lobby against the introduction of a cap on work related education expenses, announced in April by then federal Treasurer Wayne Swan.

In March, National Council determined its policy priorities for the next two years as: Sustainable Communities, Design Culture, Climate Change, Housing, and Regulation and Red Tape. In the lead up to the federal election, we advocated these policy positions to all elected members of Federal Parliament  and then surveyed the major political parties, seeking their position on these priorities. The results are published here.

National Council agreed to both formalise the Emerging Architects and Graduates Network (EmAGN) as an Institute national committee, and to take a motion to the AGM for the creation of an Emerging Professional position on National and Chapter Councils.

We also delivered numerous member programs, seminars, lectures, exhibitions, competitions and events including the National Conference – Material in Melbourne, and the state and territory awards culminating in the National Architecture Awards, held at Sydney Opera House on the occasion of that iconic building’s 40th anniversary. All of these major events are examples of our commitment to connecting and engaging with members throughout the country.

Now to 2014 – and there is much to look forward to. First up is the Australian Achievements in Architecture Awards (AAAAs) presentation, which takes place at Peppermint Bay in Tasmania on 20 March.

Our National Conference – Making will be held in Perth from 8 to 10 May. The creative team, Helen Norrie, Adam Haddow and Sam Crawford, envisions a celebration of ideas, examining different approaches to achieving architectural excellence that challenge cultural, economic, social and political environments.

The 14thVenice International Architecture Exhibition, directed by Rem Koolhaas, runs from June until November with Australia’s exhibition presenting an alternative architectural vision for Australia. Augmented Australia 1914-2014 by felix._Giles_Anderson+Goad brings a selection of unrealised historical and contemporary Australian projects to life for the first time. It explores the ideas and stories behind their design and inception, including the new Australian Pavilion by Denton Corker Marshall, which will be under construction at the time.

Then in August, we present our bid to host the 2020 UIA Congress in Melbourne at the UIA General Assembly meeting in Durban. The Congress represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Australian architects and architecture. I’m looking forward to presenting our vision for this incredible event.

As for the profession itself, what does 2014 hold? Times have been hard for us in recent years. In the face of this, it can be hard to remain optimistic but things are certainly improving, particularly in the residential sector. If you feel powerless or frustrated, I encourage you to get involved with your chapter in the new year – on committees, councils, at events – to have your say and help influence the future of our profession.

I wish you all an enjoyable festive season and a happy and successful 2014.


Paul Berkemeier
National President