As with many of Jonathan Jones’ works, untitled (maraong manaóuwi) in the forecourt of the Hyde Park Barracks draws upon layers of deep research, symbolism and culture to speak to the history of this place. This artwork particularly teaches us to have reverence and thoughtfulness in the way we use materials.
Held to the whim of rapidly changing trends, it is not uncommon to find kitchens barely five years old discarded or stripped from homes. In 2018, 78% of home improvements were for kitchen renovations, (according to the Home Builders Association). Off-cut kitchen is a physical manifestation of our local deconstruction and reuse network. While there are endless examples of aesthetic experimentation within the architectural interior, the materials are almost always the same, melamine, MDF, veneer and natural stone. Our question became, how can we construct a kitchen using only materials destined for landfill?
The last three years have seen architectural practice grapple with internal and external issues that we’ve not faced in several generations, if ever. However, a recent roundtable discussion with a number of practices suggests the dark days of the pandemic may have been the prelude to a period of positivity for the profession.
Crises are powerful agents for change. The worldwide pandemic and recent natural disasters have highlighted the fragility of human health, along with the importance of taking care of our planet. Like many industries, architecture and construction has responded with efforts to evolve practices in sustainable ways.
An appeal to consider the ethics of everything is overwhelming but remains urgent. The Ethics Centre identifies an ethics framework as a useful tool to consider purpose and values. Beyond design excellence, an ethics framework can help studios operate with intention, recruit the right people and reduce the risks of poor decisions being made.
The disciplines of architecture and town planning are intrinsically interrelated yet in practice are often considered separately from one another. My understanding is that there are intersections between these disciplines but rarely do the systems behind these professions collaborate through sharing knowledge and project outcomes in meaningful ways.
An ambition of our practice since we started eight years ago has been to explore and find ways to embed cultural, environmental and social value in our work. We believe that valuable architecture must balance functionality with poetics, nurture community and connect people, not only with each other, but with the broader world around us.
In an interview a few years ago, I was asked how my upbringing has shaped the way I practice architecture. Why equity in practice was so important to me and what drives me to question craft and function. A few years later, that same question was asked with a follow-on question – how has that upbringing on Country shaped me as an architect? The answer to this is through this yarn.
Within our practice, we aim to amplify the voice of Australia’s First Peoples, extending into the fabric of the built environment to inform architectural expression in a vibrant and engaging way. It is through the social construction of our environments – the spaces we live and work in – that critical relationships are defined; relationships between people and with the natural world.
The 2021 National Standard of Competency for Architects (NSCA) identifies the skills, knowledge and capabilities required for the general practice of architecture in contemporary Australia. Significant new content is introduced in new Performance Criteria (PCs) focused on engagement with First Nations peoples and understanding and respecting Country.