Architects: Agents of change

They are the women and men who design our cities, buildings and public spaces, shaping the built environment in which we live and work, and act out our daily lives. Architects can be powerful agents of change and from 4 to 6 May they will be converging on Sydney for the annual National Architecture Conference.

This year’s conference, PRAXIS will engage in a critical debate about the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of architecture. The curators have invited leading international and Australian architects who will be exploring and evidencing this questioning through extensive and highly-acclaimed built work.

With speakers from China, India, the Netherlands, Ireland, Vietnam and Spain, the conference will examine how a nexus of research, teaching, theory and practice makes for successful and meaningful projects that shape our buildings and public places. PRAXIS will also focus on the way in which Australian practices can and do engage in these processes, enabling architects to better advocate their roles as agents of positive change in the world we live in.

A conference highlight will be Australia’s most internationally acclaimed architect, Glenn Murcutt AO, sharing his insights with delegates. Glenn will discuss his strategies for maintaining the integrity of his work in today’s fast-paced and inter-connected world.

PRAXIS is curated by Professor Helen Lochhead, Dean of the Faculty of Built Environment UNSW Sydney, and Ken Maher, National President of the Australian Institute of Architects.

Both curators – highly experienced with major public-realm projects – are committed to the belief that architecture should have at its core the aim to enhance the ‘common good’, whether that be through a greater commitment to the environment, social equity or a better quality built environment.

‘Without some form of questioning and intelligent thought, Australian architects are at risk of failing to understand how their work contributes to a society that is more equitable, fair and inclusive, while also producing buildings and spaces that give purpose and meaning to our built environments and cultural landscape,’ Prof Lochhead warns.

‘For architecture to have agency it needs to engage with more than just the pragmatic.’

Maher is critical of the empty formalism manifest in many projects internationally, instead seeking an embedding of deeper understanding within education and practice as a means of ensuring both ‘content and form’ as we face the critical issues of equity and climate change in our communities.

‘An engagement with praxis allows architecture to have a purposeful basis and hence greater agency within society,’ Maher said.

‘Our ambition is for those attending the conference to be challenged about how they can work and how they can work differently.’

The main conference program has been further enhanced by a fringe event schedule including open studios, walking tours, masterclasses and a visit to the brutalist building at the heart of the #SaveOurSirius campaign.

2017 Speakers:

Eva Castro – Plasma Studio, China
Rahul Mehrotra – RMA Architects, India
Winy Maas – MVRDV, Netherlands
Sheila O’Donnell & John Tuomey – O’Donnell + Tuomey, Ireland
Vo Trong Nghia – Vo Trong Nghia Architects, Vietnam
Anupama Kundoo – Anupama Kundoo Architects, Spain
Glenn Murcutt – Glenn Murcutt Architect, Australia
Emma Williamson – CODA, Australia
Rodney Eggleston – March Studio, Australia
Megan Baynes – Room11, Australia
Penny Collins & Huw Turner – Collins and Turner, Australia
Rachel Nolan & Patrick Kennedy – Kennedy Nolan, Australia
John Wardle – John Wardle Architects, Australia
Neil Durbach – Durbach Block Jaggers, Australia

For further information and speaker biographies visit http://wp.architecture.com.au/praxis/