From the National President – March 2013

I’ve recently returned from the 20th Assembly and Conference of the Commonwealth Association of Architects in Dhaka. Hosted by the Institute of Architects Bangladesh, the ‘mega event for architecture’ invited colleagues from Commonwealth countries to come together to meet and exchange ideas and views

I found it a very inspiring time – to meet with a large group of excellent people from around the world, all intent on making the world a better place through architecture.

It was also a privilege to visit Dhaka – an amazing, paradoxical place. I saw plenty for us in Australia to learn from Bangladesh. I also met several wonderful young architects and architecture students who welcomed us warmly and whose activism and passion for doing good was impressive. I had the sense they will certainly be changing the world. Watch that space.

I came back looking forward to supporting our own 2013 Conference: Material. More speakers have been announced and a series of excellent parallel events is being confirmed. In times when we could all do with some positive inspiration and an opportunity to meet with friends and colleagues, I encourage you to attend and register as Early Bird ticket sales close soon.

On 20 March, the Institute presents its Achievement in Architecture Awards. Held at the newly opened National Arboretum in Canberra, this event brings the announcement of the 2013 Gold Medallist, as well as presentation of the President’s Prize and the Leadership in Sustainability Prize among others. I encourage you to come and celebrate the profession and many individuals from outside the profession who contribute much to architecture. I also suggest it’s a great excuse for those of us living outside the ACT to visit the nation’s beautiful and unique capital in this its centenary year. It is a spatially fascinating landscape, an architect-designed city, and a repository for many of Australia’s cultural riches.

In this edition of e-news we also look at the latest developments with the ARC-funded Equity and Diversity research project. This project examines a range of issues relating to gender in architecture, including barriers to the retention and advancement of women to senior management. As an industry partner, the Institute has established a Working Group, of which I am a member. The group has agreed to develop a national policy which will address issues of equity and diversity in the architectural profession. The drafting of this policy will entail an extensive consultation process with chapters, interested member groups and the broader membership. I encourage you to get involved, even if only by responding to a survey or request for comment that might come your way!

Shelley Penn