The incoming Victorian Government should deliver housing and building reforms to improve the quality and sustainability of the state’s built environment, the Australian Institute of Architects Victoria says.
With the Victorian state election only days away, the Institute’s Victorian Chapter is calling for the next state government to deliver a roadmap for zero carbon buildings and reforms to improve building design and partnerships with First Nations communities.
The Institute’s Victorian Chapter President, David Wagner FRAIA, said the government had an opportunity to deliver nation-leading reforms, particularly to help reach the state’s emissions reduction targets.
“We need a practical plan that incentivises retrofitting, innovation and upgrading existing buildings, cuts red tape for sustainable design and supports local manufacturers to produce sustainable building materials.”
The Australian Institute of Architects Victorian Chapter said a roadmap towards carbon neutral buildings in the state should introduce incentives to support sustainability initiatives and also invest in research, training and consumer education.
During the state election, the Institute also called for improvements to building design standards and urged the incoming government to mandate that only architects can prepare or oversee the design of complex and larger buildings.
“Critical design decisions can have far-reaching implications for building safety, longevity and energy efficiency as well as maintenance and upgrade costs,’’ Mr Wagner said.
“The best way to manage these impacts is to ensure that a qualified architect is involved in all stages of the design process for complex and larger buildings.”
Further, the Institute has urged the government to commit to improving apartment standards in line with the recommendations of the recent Legislative Assembly Planning and Environment Committee report into apartment design.
The report recommended all apartment designs should be verified by an architect and the establishment of a state-wide framework for local design review panels.
Another key priority for the Victorian chapter ahead of the State Election is the inclusion of a clear respect for Country in the development of the build environment.
The incoming government should commit to building and infrastructure procurement processes that respect Country and are developed in partnership with Victorian First Nations communities.
In addition, the government should work collaboratively to develop a framework and guidelines to ensure the planning, design and delivery of built environment projects in Victoria address the implications for Country.
“This is about encouraging projects that celebrate Country and ensures an ethical and considered approach to projects and design,’’ Mr Wagner said.
The Institute has also urged the government to similarly protect cultural built heritage, with tax incentives to preserve heritage through upgrades or adaptive re-use projects.
It has called for $50 million to be allocated to Heritage Victoria to ensure that places of significance can be appropriately assessed and listed on the heritage register and more support given to the Living Heritage Grants Program.
The pre-election policy also advocated for making business in Victoria easier through the development of a single government building procurement framework.
“Such a framework, developed with industry, would help cut red tape and make it cheaper and easier to comply with regulations and procurement models, which can differ widely between departments and agencies,’’ Mr Wagner said.
Further, a major review of risk mitigation, including contract terms and insurance requirements, should be undertaken to ensure fair, sensible and insurable procurement contracts to establish the state government as an exemplary client while simultaneously lowering government project costs.
These initiatives are included in the Institute’s comprehensive pre-election policy.
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Rosanne Barrett on behalf of the Australian Institute of Architects
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