From the National President

Clare Cousins

 

15 Oct 2018

 

When Jørn Utzon conceived the Sydney Opera House, his vision went beyond function. What he created was a work of art – in his own words, a ‘sculpture’.

The Opera House is undoubtedly one of the most pervading symbols of Australia, for us and people the world over.

But, as recent history has shown, those famous white sails can now be used as a billboard.

The controversial decision to project the barrier draw for a horse race on to our Opera House was understandably met with outrage. However, it has also brought a critical issue to the fore – the importance of protecting, not profiting from, our public assets.

It is the Institute’s position that using buildings like the Opera House for advertising is unacceptable, disrespectful and represents exploitation of our public assets for commercial gain.

Behind the scenes our members have been working tirelessly to ensure this does not happen again and, moving forward, this is a cause we will be fighting for.

Andrew Nimmo, the Institute’s NSW Chapter President, and the NSW Chapter team have so far met with the NSW Government Architect and Sydney Opera House management, raising the Institute’s concerns and offering its assistance. Letters have also been sent to NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, the state Minister for Heritage and the Environment, the Heritage Council and the Government Architect’s office.

We applaud the efforts of Andrew and other members in ensuring the voice of architects has been heard. And we won’t stop here, there is more work to be done in collaboration with our heritage and cultural partners. We are stronger together.

As architects we need to be vocal in protecting our iconic buildings and precincts. It is not enough to just object – we must work with governments and the wider community to educate them about the social and cultural value of these places, ensuring they are appreciated, respected and conserved. We will keep you informed of our actions on this issue and share opportunities for members to add their voice as we seek to enact change.

As outlined in our recent advocacy update, the Institute’s joint submission with ArchiTeam and the ACA to the Banking Royal Commission has been lodged. It highlights discriminatory behaviour by the banks in relation to architect-led contracts. In addition, engaging closely with key stakeholders and law makers will be vital if we are to see legislative change. We have communicated with various senior representatives in government and the banking sector to further progress our cause and we will keep you up-to-date with any developments.

And finally, on a lighter note, it’s that time of year again, with the National Architecture Awards just around the corner. I’m looking forward to seeing many of you there for our night of nights, where we can come together to celebrate outstanding architecture and our passion for our profession. Good luck to all our finalists!

 

Clare Cousins
National President