From the National President – June 2013

I write this fresh from the 2013 National Architecture Conference – Material. What an outstanding event it was; a great way to begin my tenure as National President – inspired, invigorated and immensely optimistic for our profession.

The event was a great success on all fronts: more than 1200 members of the profession: practitioners, graduates, academics, students and industry media convening in Melbourne for a few days of thought provoking discussion, learning and socialising. I would like to acknowledge the work of the creative directors in putting Material together; an enormous thanks to Sandra Kaji-O’Grady and John de Manincor for their tremendous vision and tenacity. In addition I would like to say a special thanks to all of the speakers for sharing with us their expertise and passion for this profession, and to the Institute team, the contractors, suppliers and volunteers for their enormous efforts and commitment in realising an event on this scale. Also key is the generous support that we have received from our sponsors.

At the conference, I had the pleasure of announcing that the Institute is bidding to host the International Union of Architects (UIA) Congress in 2020. The congress is one of the largest international events of its type attracting approximately 6000 attendees from around the globe and is held every three years.

It was fitting to announce this in Melbourne as this is where we plan to host the event if our bid is successful and we are delighted with the Victorian Government support received to provide us with the opportunity. The 2020 Melbourne Congress will provide architects with an opportunity to participate in a series of culturally and professionally enriching events and will establish or re-establish contacts with colleagues from different countries. The congress attracts both practising architects and academics, well-known architects, those involved in international relations, architects linked to the construction sector, as well as young professionals and students of architecture.

For those who are not familiar with the UIA, it is a non-government organisation comprising the professional associations of architects in over 124 countries around the world and represents approximately 1.3 million architects.

Institute Past President Louise Cox was UIA President from 2008 to 2011. As chair of the bid committee, I have the honour of working with Louise in her role as bid ambassador and I am very thankful for the valuable advice and experience she brings to the group as we develop and progress the bid. The formal bid will be presented at the next congress, which is being held in August 2014 in Durban. The 2020 host city will be announced as congress draws to a close at the UIA General Assembly.

In the lead up to the conference, I had the opportunity to attend the parallel event Transform, hosted by Parlour and the ARC funded Equity and Diversity in the Architecture Profession research project team. Sessions covered issues such as ‘what are the possible futures of architecture?’ and ‘what is an architectural career?’ It was an enlivening and encouraging exchange of valuable ideas on how to promote greater female engagement in the profession. You can read more about the research project here.

This month, the Institute Awards presentations begin. Throughout June and into July, I will be attending many of the chapter award events. The first presentation is the NT Awards held in Darwin tomorrow night, followed by SA (14 June), Tasmania (15 June), Queensland and Victoria (both 21 June), ACT (22 June) NSW (27 June) and WA (5 July). Visit your chapter web page for details about your local event. I look forward to celebrating the achievements of our discipline, as well as having the chance to meet and speak with colleagues from around the country.

I would like to thank Shelley Penn, for the inspiring leadership and commitment through 2012 and the first half of 2013. Also, for the support she has given me in my former role of President Elect. If the conference serves as a reflection of our profession, I keenly look forward to the next twelve months – there are exciting times ahead.

Finally, I am pleased to report that all the proposed changes to our Memorandum and Articles were passed at the AGM last week and this will result in the President of the National EmAGN Committee becoming a National Councillor together with Chapter Councils gaining representation from their local EmAGN group.  I look forward to the current President of the EmAGN National Committee, Jacqui Connor joining us at the next National Council meeting in August.

Paul Berkemeier