From the SA Chapter President – A Moment of Reflection

We have at times this year endeavoured to challenge and question the modus operandi that directly influences or tries to restructure our value and belief system as a profession.

The eventual demolition of Shed 26 was an absolute shamble in the Development Approval process. We sold our maritime soul as a State, sacrificing one of the last remnants of our Port’s built environment, industrial history and heritage. A short-sighted viewpoint of short term economic rationalism rather than sustainable readaptation adopting cultural and community interests.

The Government procurement process in obtaining equitable risk profiles for architectural commissions continues to be a struggle in the never-ending quest for novation and shedding of risk to others. The Shergold Weir Report has evidently shown where this has led.

Any platform for Planning Reform takes a brave heart and while we may sometimes disagree with proposed policy initiatives, a mature discussion provides informed decision-making. The reform work of the State Planning Commission and the release of the Planning and Design Code will affect future generations in how our built environment is delivered. It requires commentary and debate to ensure it reflects a long-term vision, which allows it to continuously evolve. Accordingly, it is important to revisit the findings of the 2013 Expert Panel on Planning Reform to ensure that it achieves its goal.¬† The magnitude of this task should not be questioned. The tireless work of Michael Lennon as Chair of the Commission needs to be commended for always fronting up and expressing the Commission’s vision. It is not an easy task to be continuously lambasted by negativity, which often seems to be a mainstay of this City.

Heritage, Parklands, green urban canopies, erosion of public and community space and water conservation are always and continue to be a source of debate in this City. Protection of these assets should be non-negotiables moving forward to protect our privileged lifestyle for future generations. Rather than continuous fragmentation can we not just put a line in the sand and move forward.

I’m not sure why we are debating if we need a rainwater tank or two, one tree or two, and whether urban infill is required. Evidence-based mapping of built form materiality that affects urban overheating of our Cities should dispel all myths of being alarmist on environmental degradation. It is disturbing that we continue to put an economic price of short-term gain over long-term legacy of the built environment. Good design and urban planning, if it is allowed will more than compensate savings in both sustainable construction and running costs. Perhaps in the first instance, we can start at the land division stage of projects to ensure responsible environmentally considered planned communities, rather than being given a registered allotment plan and asked to design a back to front house on it. Our work, in the majority, responds to Policy protocolled by others. To continuously being referred to as the panacea of all things wrong with design outcomes is seriously at odds with the majority our professional ethics.

And finally, on a personal whine, I am still worried about the developing City urban form, the aspiration for height in a City of some 1.3 million is seriously at odds with a sustainable (both economic and environmentally) cohesive urban infill policy. The City is starting to look like a City of silos built on extracts of a Planning Policy developed from a study tour of San Gimignano……throw in the rollercoaster infill of Churchill Road, the urban infill failure in Campbelltown Council with the smallest allotment sizes in Australia….. why…….?

Celebrate the festive season, be safe and enjoy your families…….. there is more to life than architecture.

Tony Giannone 
SA Chapter President