From the Tasmanian Chapter President

Thank you all for tuning into the Tasmanian Architecture Awards presentations last month. We’ve had lots of positive feedback about the new livestream format this year, and it’s incredible to see the reach that this format has allowed us. Currently the YouTube video of the Tasmanian Awards is sitting on 2,000 views and I imagine this will continue to rise as the Chapter Awards continue around the country. Locally, we had a number of groups gathering at various locations around our state and it was wonderful to see you all celebrating via social media. If you missed the presentations, they’re available to view here. There are still three Chapter Awards to come, with the Queensland Awards on Thursday, the Victorian Awards on Friday, and the International Chapter Awards next Friday. Tune into the Aus Architects YouTube live channel to watch.

I’d like to extend a particular thank you to our special guests and Tasmanian Chapter Institute Ambassadors, the Hon. Elise Archer MP, Minister for Building & Construction, for her message on the night, along with Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Kate Warner, AC, Governor of Tasmania, the Honourable Rebecca White MP, and City of Launceston Councillor, Janie Finlay, who joined us in watching virtually on the evening.

Thank you to our Executive Director Jennifer Nichols and the Chapter office team, Lara Maeseele, Katie Katos, Fiona McMullen for your, energy, and commitment to bring this and our other wonderful programs to fruition. It has been a lot of hard work, juggled between yourselves and the national office to put together the awards programs for this year. We greatly appreciate all you have done. It’s taken many to bring the presentation to you I would also like to thank the following people: Mike Brady for the social media coverage, Adam Ouston for his wonderful editing, and Chloe Proud for the grub and tucker on the evening.

I’d like to acknowledge our many Chapter Partner and National Partners again. Without your support this awards program would not happen, and we particularly thank you all during this difficult time. 

I’d also like to thank our awards jury for their agility in navigating the changes to the program this year:

  • Jury Chair, Lucy Burke-Smith – Associate with Purcell;
  • Bevan Rees – long-time local practitioner, Director of Bevan Rees Architect;
  • Will Harkness – Project Architect at JAWS Architects;
  • Bek Verrier – Associate at our practice, Bence Mulcahy; and
  • Bernadette Wilson – Victorian & Tasmanian Manager of the Design Institute of Australia. 

I acknowledge we have all recently and continue to be consumed with concerns about our health and the health of our families and friends and the toll that this crisis is having on our economy, our businesses, and our way of life. I share this concern and changes of this scale are incredibly difficult.

I am proud though of the way our various practices, our Chapter as a community and our Institute has dealt with the recent crisis and the way it has supported the membership; whether practically through reducing membership fees or through its leadership, continuing to strengthen advocacy efforts on behalf of members to keep sites open and projects coming down in the pipe line. I also thank particularly the Tasmanian Government for their support and an open ear over these last few months.

Last year, for the awards, I reflected on issues facing our community, including health, education and housing, and asked the profession questions about what responsibilities we have and what role our profession should be playing. These issues are still important, but I question what the current crisis means. 

I think there are potentially a number of broad opportunities and lessons that have the potential to emerge from this time that could assist.

Accepting our vulnerability

This has been the catalyst for all levels of society, governments, businesses and individuals to act. If we can learn to accept our vulnerability, we would be in a better position to meaningfully prepare for similar crises, with climate change as a key example.

We are all connected

Greater acceptance of this, despite our geography politics or circumstance, has the power to build momentum for large scale action on other key issues.

Protecting the vulnerable

This has become top priority for individuals, businesses and governments. Maintaining this momentum would lead to a more compassionate society.

Trust in professionals

This crisis has shown the importance of professionals, science and data. Despite recent contrary trends I hope this leads to a greater trust in experts of all types.

Accepting cultural change

The crisis response has not required any new technology or tools, so much as simply cultural change and the desire to act on it.

I contend that housing shortages, access to health care, education inequality, climate change, and diversity in the workplace are still issues prevalent in our communities and pertinent to our profession, but I also offer the possibility that this crisis has already ploughed the furrows for how to take collective action in regard to these and others.

The project in the ‘Awards – Class of 2020’ were completed in a pre-Covid world, yet we can draw from these projects seeds of inspiration. How we might live differently, how our workplace might change, how the dated can be renewed economically and how minor interventions in small communities can make big differences.

Enjoy and celebrate Tasmania’s architectural excellence and I urge you all as we consider rebuilding our lives and our practices after the crisis, to think of what small things can we simply do differently or what can we achieve if we work collectively, to create a more connected, caring, economically and culturally vibrant, and inclusive place for us all.


Shamus Mulcahy RAIA

President, Tasmanian Chapter

Australian Institute of Architects