Keep architects on the ARBV
The Institute together with the Association of Consulting Architects has been involved in lobbying to make amendments to the Building, Planning and Heritage Legislation Amendment Bill during its upcoming debate in Victoria’s Legislative Council.
We are seeking to have Clause 88 of the bill amended. Clause 88 re-writes Section 47 of the current Architects Act which determines the composition of the board. The current ten-member board composition includes five currently registered architects with various practice, government and academic backgrounds alongside important consumer and construction industry representatives on the Board. An amended Section 47 would introduce
On the surface, a non-architect would think it is sufficient that the new Section 47 might require at least 3 of the members to each have qualifications in architecture and demonstrated experience in a leadership role within the building industry. The Institute and others are saying that this does not amount to three persons who are architects. Many people have completed an architecture qualification at bachelor and/or masters degree level without ever completing the Architectural Practice Exam, and therefore r becoming registered. They may go on to have significant roles in construction as a designer, project manager or in property development. Notwithstanding the skill they may have brought to these roles, this does not mean they have practiced as an architect with full knowledge of the responsibilities – both in terms of competency and professional conduct specific to an architect.
The Institute supports the move to strengthen the skills-base of the board with additional corporate governance skills specifications. The bill’s proposed changes will weaken consumer protection by the important insights into the conduct and competency standards of registered architects.
We still need your help to support a campaign by emailing or speaking especially with your Victorian upper house (Legislative Council) member – especially those who are on the cross-benches (independents and minor parties).
To support the campaign visit the Keep registered architects on the ARBV campaign webpage where there is:
- more detailed explanation of the changes being introduced to the Architects Act
- a template letter/email for members to send
- a link to the Victorian Parliamentary website to find out details about your lower and upper house members.
Victorian Inquiry into Apartment Design Standards
The Planning and Environment Committee tabled the report from its inquiry on 2 August in the Legislative Assembly. The Victorian Chapter of the Institute, supported by the Institute’s Policy and Advocacy Team made an extensive submission late last year, attended as witnesses at the inquiry’s hearing in February this year. In April, in response to a request by the Planning and Environment Committee, six Committee members were taken on a full day tour of selected apartments across Melbourne with Chapter Council representatives, matter expert members and Institute personnel.
The approximately 200-page report has made 66 findings and 35 recommendations. Many of the Institute’s positions and advice on design considerations and processes, energy performance, precinct planning, livability and accessibility, light, space, outdoor and communal areas have been reflected in the report. Important recommendations including:
- Recommendation 26 – that the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) work with local councils to consider the benefits of design verification by registered architects in the Better Apartments Design Standards.
- Recommendations 27 and 28 – seeking the development of a state‑wide framework for local councils to administer design review panels, together with legislative approaches to mandate the referral of apartment designs to design review panels to ensure that advice given by panels holds legal weight for enforcement.
- Recommendation 32: that DELWP develop a system for post‑occupancy surveys of apartment residents to enrich understanding of the whole life cycle of apartment buildings and develop a stronger framework and scheme of regulation over the long‑term life course of apartment buildings.
The Victorian government has not yet responded to the report’s recommendations.
National Construction Code 2022
On Friday 26 August, Victoria to be commended for leadership on residential standards building ministers around Australia on Friday broadly agree to adopt NatHERS 7-Star energy efficiency and the new Livable Housing Design Standard in the 2022 National Construction Code. There are some state and territory variations to implementation timeframes. Tasmania has been the exception in deciding not to consider the compulsory adoption of 7-star energy efficiency rating until the next iteration of the NCC in 2025 citing concerns about condensation.
The Victorian Government has provided leadership around the national table of building ministers. Sustainability Victoria has been running a formidable program of research focussing on as-built verification, building orientation and even retrofitting improvements as well as training building and design practitioners about 7-Star.
In Victoria there is policy commitment from both the Planning and Energy Ministers to 7-Star energy efficiency.
Victoria has also strongly advocated for minimum livability standards. The ABCB’s new Livable Housing Design Standard (LHDS) is only a minimum standard. Design standards such as wider doorways, eliminating thresholds into people’s homes, and providing for a toilet in a dwelling’s entry level will start to improve accessibility especially for people with mobility limitations. The Institute will want to see progress of the standard to the benchmarks of Livable Housing Australia’s gold and platinum standards where, for example, the higher standards require a bedroom and a bathroom at a dwelling’s entry level and corridor and doorway dimensions are further increased on the silver level on which the ABCB’s LHDS is currently based.