From the CEO

Jan 13 2014

I hope you have all had a good start to the year.

For the Institute, 2014 begins on a positive note, with fantastic new premises for our Melbourne-based operations and our NT Chapter.

In Victoria, 41 Exhibition St was purchased by the Institute in 1996 and housed the Institute’s Melbourne offices until the end of 2011. Two years ago, construction began on the site and launched the largest capital works project the organisation has ever undertaken.

Now, the building is complete and 41X is home to the Institute’s Melbourne-based business units, including the Victorian Chapter, National Office Melbourne and Archicentre. Architext will relocate soon.

We are immensely proud of our new Melbourne home. 41X is an exemplary, small footprint, commercial building that shows how good design, sustainability and the work of architects can deliver outstanding results. It has achieved a 5 star Greenstar Design rating and will be the first strata titled office building in Australia to target carbon neutrality for base building carbon impacts from embodied energy, operational energy, transport and waste.

We hope that you will come and visit when you have the chance. There will be a number of member tours and associated events and we will announce these when dates are locked in.

The NT Chapter also starts the year with a new address: Unit 3/4 Shepherd St, Darwin. The building was designed by noted Darwin designer, developer and Honorary Fellow of the Institute, Hans Vos, who unfortunately passed away in 2013. The NT office fit out has been designed by a collaborative team, with original concept and all documentation by Rossi Architects, and includes more space for member engagement.

One of our policy priorities this year is the value of design and we start the year with a number of initiatives in train that specifically address this issue.

You may be aware that in 2013 the Institute formally joined the Australian Design Alliance (AdA). The Alliance consists of peak professional organisations that represent designers across all aspects of Australia’s design industry. Its goal is to promote the use of design to boost Australia’s productivity, sustainability and innovation. One of the key areas of focus for the AdA is to advocate for an Australian national design policy linked to Australia’s innovation agenda.

We’ve also partnered with the Government Architects of NSW, Victoria and SA in funding an RMIT research project on the value of design. This research project is premised on the notion that the value of design is under researched in Australia and that there is a need to develop evidence of the value of good design in Australian communities. This project aims to review design value research and experience to date, and conduct a limited pilot case, drawing on the experience of apartment buildings which are architect designed under SEPP 65 in NSW, to test a design value approach.

The paper will inform the Institute in setting out the evidence and agenda for promoting the value of design.

An advisory group has been established to guide the project with Matthew Pullinger (former NSW Chapter President) and Kylie Ruth (Institute Government Relations Officer) representing the Institute. RMIT proposes to produce a final report by mid 2014 and there is a possibility of extending the research to other typologies and urban scales.

Following discussion at National Council last year, the Institute is also collating information about initiatives across Australia that are aimed at achieving good design in the built environment. The information being collected includes examples of regulation/legislation, policy and other government measures, guidelines and relevant documents that either facilitate or promote good design. It is anticipated that housing this information in an easily accessible repository will assist chapters when responding to relevant government consultations, or when advocating for good design measures by providing examples that could be adopted in their state or territory. Government Architects’ offices and Institute chapters across Australia are contributing to the compilation of this information.

I look forward to reporting back to you on progress of these activities in the coming months.

I wish you all a productive and fulfilling 2014.

Kind regards,

David Parken
CEO, Australian Institute of Architects