The Architect WA Spring 2017

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Mondoluce is the sole importer and distributor for iGuzzini in Western Australia.

Creative lighting in architecture is fundamental in portraying the reading of both form and expression, as well as underscores the authenticity of its language and character.

The Aloft Hotel provides a new typology for short stay accommodation for Perth. Its simple geometric façade provides a hallmark along Great Eastern Highway, an honest reflection of its hotel room arrangement beyond. The external lighting is crafted to be “playful” with the building skin. In contrast to the Hotel’s rigid egg-crate facades, discrete lighting accents randomly punctuate this strong grid, emitting blue coloured lighting from the iGuzzini Trick 360° blade. In concert, occupied hotel rooms emit warm coloured light – providing a subtle and changing lighting cacophony.

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CLIENT Aloft Hotels + BGC Developments ARCHITECT Cox Howlett & Bailey Woodland ELECTRICAL ENGINEER Wood and Grieve Engineers BUILDERS BGC Construction PHOTOGRAPHER Ron Tan

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The Official Journal of the Australian Institute of Architects: WA Chapter


4 contributors

5 editor’s message

7 WA chapter president’s message

addressing power

12 the importance of continuity in big urban projects

18 the goods shed: connections across time

22 väike-Õismäe: the power of an idea

27 bargaining power

28 roe 8: politics and power in defence of place

32 signs and symbols in medi-scapes: the mediation of power

38 modes of power: a reflection on perth’s council house

42 ‘3 over 4 under ’ 2017 – on reality

addressing power and sharing power

46 ten from ten

sharing power

64 east pilbara arts centre: understated

70 the power of process

72 dignity & architecture: south terrace supported accommodation hostel

76 renewable power: sustainability and the built environment

78 common ground: geraldton multi-user facility and youth precinct

82 competition power

84 in real time: powerful partnerships

The Architect has been in circulation since 1939 and is highly valued by both Institute members and the broader design professions. Generous financial contributions from architects over the years have helped sustain the magazine and we thank the following practices:

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Andrew Boyne is a sole practitioner who focuses on residential and prefabricated architecture. In 2015 Andrew received the Gil Nicol Biennial Award.

Prof Sarah McGann is an architectural researcher and professor at the University of Notre Dame in Fremantle.

Katherine Ashe is a director of vittinoAshe, which she co-founded in 2007 and lectures in architectural design at Curtin University.

Olivia Chetkovich is an architectural graduate with an interest in architectural education and publishing. Olivia is the immediately preceding editor of The Architect.

Steven Coghlan is the state manager of Consult Australia in WA. Until recently he worked for the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

Tim Dawkins is a director of planning at Urbis, and an advocate for good design.

Dr Tanja Glusac is a lecturer and Bachelor of Applied Science (Architectural Science) course coordinator, School of Built Environment, Curtin University.

Kukame McKenzie is a design director at Gresley Abas Architects. He also worked at ARM Architecture in both Melbourne and Perth.

Chris Melsom is an established and well-regarded architect, planner and urban designer.

Dr Thor Kerr is a lecturer at Curtin University researching how popular movements respond to changes in coastal environments

Dr Francesco Mancini is an Italian architect and is currently Architecture Discipline Lead and Master Course Coordinator, at Curtin University.

Dr Brad Pettitt was elected Mayor of the City of Fremantle in 2009 and re-elected in 2013 and 2017. Brad has a PhD in sustainable development from Murdoch University.

Dr Simon Pendal is founder of the architectural design and research orientated architectural practice Simon Pendal Architect. Simon is a lecturer within the Department of Architecture at Curtin.

Dr Dianne Smith is an adjunct associate professor SoBE, Curtin University and has her own business. Her research focuses on everyday discriminatory design and how creative practices can reconceptualize our understandings.

Warranty: Persons and/or organisations and their servants and agents or assigns upon lodging with the publisher for publication or authorising or approving the publication of any advertising material indemnify the publisher, the editor, its servants and agents against all liability for, and costs of, any claims or proceedings whatsoever arising from such publication. Persons and/or organisations and their servants and agents and assigns warrant that the advertising material lodged, authorised or approved for publication complies with all relevant laws and regulations and that its publication will not give rise to any rights or liabilities against the publisher, the editor, or its servants and agents under common and/ or statute law and without limiting the generality of the foregoing further warrant that nothing in the material is misleading or deceptive or otherwise in breach of the Trade Practices Act 1974.

Important Disclaimer: The views expressed in this publication are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Australian Institute of Architects. Material should also be seen as general comment and not intended as advice on any particular matter. No reader should act or fail to act on the basis of any material contained herein. Readers should consult professional advisors. The Australian Institute of Architects, its officers, the editor and authors expressly disclaim all and any liability to any persons whatsoever in respect of anything done or omitted to be done by any such persons in reliance whether in whole or in part upon any of the contents of this publication. All photographs are by the respective contributor unless otherwise noted.

Jessica Shaw is Member for Swan Hills in the WA Legislative Assembly and Chair of the Parliament’s Economics and Industry Standing Committee. Prior to entering parliament, Ms Shaw was a senior commercial executive, responsible for developing and managing energy infrastructure projects.

Steven Smyth is Associate Director and Senior Architect at CHRISTOU Design Group.


Fiona Giles and Dr Robyn Creagh

Managing Editor

Michael Woodhams

Editorial Committee

Hayley Curnow

Kelwin Wong

Magazine Template Design

Public Creative


Martin Dickie


Australian Institute of Architects

WA Chapter

Advertising Kim Burges

Produced for Australian Institute of Architects WA Chapter 33 Broadway Nedlands WA 6009 (08) 6324 3100

Cover Image

East Pilbara Arts Centre by Officer Woods. Image: Robert Frith, Acorn Photo.

Internal Covers

East Pilbara Arts Centre by Officer Woods. Image: Robert Frith, Acorn Photo.

Price: $12 (inc gst)

AS ISSN: 1037-3460

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editors’ message

Power. It is an uncomfortable word. Does the world only work under powerful hierarchies? Or is there an alternative in collaboration? After a year when voters worldwide turned away from mainstream politics and the elite, is the power coming back to the people (for better or worse)? How does architecture fit within this world? Architecture can certainly be an elite pursuit, yet it can also empower those it serves.

Power is just as present in architecture as elsewhere in our everyday lives. Power influences everything from office politics, client relationships, what is built or unbuilt, how places are occupied and by who. Buildings offer spaces where power can be enacted: do some places do this better than others?

Many connect the current global withdrawal from the mainstream to rising inequality, and large swathes of people feeling disconnected and powerless. From within the architectural profession too, some paint a picture of the powerless-architect yielding to some other party—clients, authorities, or the public. However if we take a wider, perhaps slightly provocative perspective, perhaps these parties should hold the power. They are the end users of these spaces and places after all. Or, is it really that the educated professional does know best, and we should return to the tradition of architect as master builder?

In this edition, we take a look at how power and power inequality affects our

profession and the built environment in Western Australia. We ask: What is the structure of power? Who holds power? What is power used for? And if we feel that power inequality is disadvantaging some groups: How can power be shared?  What about the power of an idea, an image, history?

These are old questions. Questions that trouble more than just the profession of architecture. And they are certainly questions that will remain after the publication of this issue.

The articles we have gathered to investigate these ideas include headliner projects such as Elizabeth Quay and the East Pilbara Arts Centre. These architectural projects have an impact even when simply taken at face value, but the reflection of our contributors bring to the fore the powerful and subtle dynamics that have played out behind the scenes.

We have also covered topics which are not as glitzy, but are fundamental to the architectural process such as planning and procurement. These are forces which will impact the future of the profession whether there is a sexy photo or not.

Sharing power is fundamental in architecture and we talk to architects who have collaborated with community and successfully engaged with different groups, drawing out a brief and bringing ideas into one cohesive whole. We are also sharing some stories you might not expect.

We do not solve any problems in these pages. But perhaps we can remind ourselves and our peers to keep our eyes (and our hearts) open. Our focus during our time at the helm will be to encourage diversity in contributors. So please, if you see a voice or an issue which is not being represented do get in touch with your suggestions.

Thank you to Olivia Chetkovich, and her editorial team, for pushing the momentum of The Architect to its current cruising velocity. Your magazine has been a joy to read.

Taking over the controls are Fiona Giles and Robyn Creagh. We are joined by Kelwin Wong, Hayley Curnow, Michael Woodhams, and just now climbing onboard is Gerard McArtney. •

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wa chapter president’s message

I am glad we are looking at power in this issue, it gives me an opportunity to talk about how we are working to strengthen the role of the Institute as a professional and political force in the built environment.

‘Peak body’ is a term often used to describe an organisation that takes the lead representing the interests of an industry or profession, most often as an advocate for better public policy. In our case, we promote the value of architects as the professionals best placed to provide quality, responsible, sustainable design, and, simultaneously arguing that good design is the basis for better social and economic outcomes in the community.

Comparable organisations such as the Australian Medical Association (AMA) have the advantage of working in sectors seen as more politically important to government. Voters are sensitive to things that have a regular and immediate effect on them, so areas like health, education, law and order are given the most attention. This puts the likes of the AMA in a very powerful lobbying position, not to mention financially better resourced.

For the Institute to get itself into a stronger position, we have adopted a multi-dimensional approach to advocacy, involving the development of formal policies to take to government and raising our media profile around the same issues, so that the broader public becomes more aware. Our priorities currently include affordable

and indigenous housing; the mandatory use of architects on multiple-residential work; better apartment standards; improving procurement methods and informing the profession about current building regulations and practices.

I am pleased to say that since the new State Government was elected in March, we have had a very good hearing from every Member of Parliament visited, particularly Housing Minister Peter Tinley and the Premier’s Parliamentary Secretary John Carey, both of whom are keen to work closely with us.

The Institute has just under 1200 members in WA, relatively small among other built environment groups. In recent years, we have discovered the value of collaboration in presenting a united and stronger voice on common issues. Just recently we joined with the Association of Consulting Architects, Consult Australia, and Master Builders in preparing a submission to the State Government’s Commission of Inquiry into Government Programs and Projects. It contained 23 recommendations on how procurement

methods could be drastically improved and how government could be a better client. (read more on p27).

Our collaborations are not limited to advocacy. There is also an educational and practical flavour which is why we are working closely with both Curtin University and The University of Western Australia to improve the work readiness of graduates.

When I took on this role I made a commitment to do whatever I could to help our members, particularly women, in meeting some of the challenges we all face trying to progress a career and achieve a healthy work-life balance.

I have started a series of events called Work Women Wisdom, a support group where women of various age groups can connect, seek mentoring and share experiences in an informal setting. I am hoping it will be a quarterly gathering and pave the way for a more collegiate approach to gender equity. We were also fortunate recently to host Justine Clark from Parlour in her first WA ‘Salon’ event ,where women tell their stories in conversation over drinks at Brickworks.

We appreciate the support of members and partners in helping to achieve our very full agenda on behalf of the profession. Equally we encourage anyone who is not a member to consider adding their weight to the cause. Imagine how much more powerful we might be with more members to help. Hopefully you can get some inspiration from reading another terrific issue of The Architect. •

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Rawlinsons Australian Construction Handbook and Rawlinsons Construction Cost Guide 2017.

- 8Rawlinsons HAND BOOK $420 INC GST COST GUIDE $285 INC GST Reflect on the budget







Maximum 2 storeys, including standard finish, air conditioning, bank fittings, no lift


Low rise 3 storeys, air conditioning, lifts, standard finish

Medium rise 4 to 7 storeys, air conditioning, slow lifts, standard finish

Medium/high rise 7 to 20 storeys, air conditioning, medium speed lifts, standard finish

$ per square metre





High rise 21 to 35 storeys, air conditioning, multiple high speed lifts, standard finish 4,410.00-4,755.00

High rise 36 to 50 storeys, air conditioning, multiple high speed lifts, standard finish



Main hall 300/500 capacity and suitable for cabarets, conventions, anterooms, small kitchen, no air conditioning


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Main hall capacity 500/750, lesser hall, library and kitchen, including air conditioning 3,095.00-3,335.00


Maximum 3 storeys, air conditioning, good standard finishes, excluding loose fittings



Single storey, partial air conditioning, standard finishes, small cell block 2,615.00-2,820.00



$ per square metre

Simple single storey with small span, including office accommodation 795.00-855.00

Single storey with large span, for heavy industry, including administration office and amenities area (factory 85% of area)


Multi-storey, maximum 6 storeys, including goods lift and office accommodation 1,580.00-1,705.00



Motel, single or double storey, standard travellers-type accommodation, individual toilet facilities, dining room, unit air conditioning (cost per bedroom unit $74,600.00–$80,400.00)

Motel, single or double storey, high standard accommodation, restaurant and lounge facilities, swimming pool and other amenities, fully air conditioned (cost per bedroom unit $101,000.00–$108,800.00)

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City hotel, medium to high rise, including air conditioning and lifts, having 60-65% accommodation area (cost per bedroom $345,500.00–$372,500.00)




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Social/sporting club building, maximum 2 storeys, air conditioned, bars, kitchen and dining area, dance area, club offices, limited carparking

Single storey sports pavilion with toilets and changerooms, minimum finish

Basketball centre




Single storey housing units and additional central care units (cost per unit $127,600.00–$137,600.00) 2,125.00-2,295.00

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Library, maximum 3 storeys, including built-in fittings and air conditioning but excluding moveable furniture 3,045.00-3,280.00



HOSPITALS AND MEDICAL CENTRES $ per square metre HOSPITALS District, single storey, 60-bed, operating theatre and partial air conditioning (cost per bed $200,500.00–$216,200.00) 3,715.00-4,005.00

General, multi-storey, 200-bed, including air conditioning and lifts (cost per bed $520,500.00–$561,000.00) 5,780.00-6,230.00

Maternity, multi-storey, 100-bed, including air conditioning and lifts (cost per bed $232,600.00–$250,700.00) 4,650.00-5,015.00

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750.00-805.00 Super market, single storey, air conditioned but excluding fitting-out work 1,575.00-1,700.00

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Squash courts, basic developer standard (cost per court

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Community recreation centre, basic standard

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50 metre x 21.0m wide x 1.0/2.4m deep pool, fully formed, including filtration and pool siteworks but excluding heating and ancillary buildings (total cost $)





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Medium standard caravan park, including communal facilities, electric power to all bays, office and retail, laundromat, barbecue areas, small swimming pool, roads and parking 28,880.00-31,130.00

High standard caravan park, including individual facilities and full services to each bay, office and retail, laundromat,barbecue areas, small swimming pool, roads and parking


HOUSES (including GST)

Suburban store of large chain, single storey with large open-plan sales area, including air conditioning but excluding carparking 1,835.00-1,980.00 City store, low to medium rise, fully air conditioned, served with escalators and lifts, inclusive of shopfronts but excluding shop fitting-out work 2,685.00-2,890.00 Parking areas, bitumen paved including lighting and storm-water drainage (per car $2,675.00–$2,870.00)


MISCELLANEOUS $ per square metre



Multi-storey, basic finish with slow passenger lift (cost per car $23,700.00–$25,500.00)


860.00-930.00 Basement carpark under office tower 1,685.00-1,815.00


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$ per square metre
Medium standard individual house 1,680.00-1,810.00 High standard house, no air conditioning but with built-in furniture and good standard finish 2,400.00-2,590.00 Prestige standard, partly air-conditioned 3,220.00-3,470.00 Townhouse, medium standard, 2 storey 1,815.00-1,955.00
project home (medium standard) 945.00-1,020.00
per flat
Multi-storey with lift and prestige standard of finish
per flat $660,000.00–$711,500.00)
FLATS (including GST) One and two bedroom units, maximum 3 storeys, no
Residential college
Laboratory + science block, maximum 3 storeys, including air
Chapel or church, simple structure 1,495.00-1,610.00 Chapel, church or synagogue, medium standard 2,245.00-2,420.00 Chapel, church or synagogue, high standard 3,190.00-3,435.00
Building Building BuildingBuilding
June232.39232.97234.71237.06240.61246.63251.55 September232.39233.55235.88237.65241.80247.85252.80 December232.39234.71235.88238.23242.99249.06254.04
– to assess the percentage variation in cost between June 1999
100 = 7.68% 8.99 117.08 1
INDEX This index is not valid for housing, small projects or remote country work.
1994106.041998115.342002126.072006180.45 1995107.631999117.082003133.102007200.20 1996111.422000122.382004147.242008216.14 1997113.652001123.582005163.872009224.46 20102011201220132014201520162017 March228.95232.39234.71236.47239.42245.42250.31255.06(F)
and June 2002: Jun-99=117.08 Jun-02=126.07=8.99x
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addressing power

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Elizabeth Quay by ARM Architecture. Image: Peter Bennetts.

the importance of continuity in big urban projects

Big, city-changing projects take time. They use up a lot of political and economic capital and so require a lot of momentum to be realised. To be successful they need to transcend impulses and trends.

Elizabeth Quay was a city-changing project that had been talked about for decades and was finally initiated by Alan Carpenter’s Labor Government in 2007 during a once-in-a-generation mining boom. The government engaged ARM Architecture as the lead design consultant after an invited competition.

That government lost the 2008 election but the project was continued by Colin Barnett’s Liberal Government with the same team, albeit with a revised design. Barnett’s government oversaw the delivery and finally the opening of the project some 8 years later in 2016. I was involved in the project from 2010 to 2017, and from 2012 I was the Project Architect in Perth.

During this time there were multiple client agencies responsible for the delivery of the project (Landcorp, Department of Planning, the Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority and a Managing Contractor). Having so many changes in governance meant there were plenty of opportunities for the project vision to be compromised.

The critical factor in the success of any project is to develop a robust set of fundamental design principles and objectives that are agreed upon

and endorsed by all stakeholders. The key vision for the Elizabeth Quay project was to reconnect the city of Perth with the Swan River. This vision was embraced and agreed by the stakeholders, client and project team.

The sheer size of this project meant it was a collaborative affair with input from hundreds, if not thousands of people. As one might expect, there were many processes to ensure that the vision was maintained as the project progressed. Examples included design review panels, community and stakeholder engagement sessions, and peer reviews run by agencies such as the Office of the Government Architect.

But unfortunately, and probably due to the variable governance conditions, not one of these processes or panels went the distance on the project in a meaningful way. In my experience the most consistent voice across the duration of the project was the consultant team.

The project has been a success by a number of measures: visitation, subsequent private sector investment, industry awards. However the outcome may have been very different if not for the dedication, skill and prosecution of the design vision by the consultant team led by the architects.

The lingering questions at the end of this project centre on governance and transparency. Clearly, the procurement of the right architects and project

team is essential. But how do we, as a community, know if the project objectives have been met?

How do we ensure design quality is achieved as the project progresses? Where does the responsibility for delivering this incomplete vision lie? And, importantly, how might this type of project be delivered in the future?

What the experience of Elizabeth Quay suggests is that big projects require independent, consistent and expert oversight from start to finish. This would require an independent review panel, perhaps appointed on a 10 year cycle to reduce political influence. Within the current government framework, a wellresourced Office of the Government Architect would be a logical first step, but sadly, the investment in this agency appears to be declining within recent years.

The strength and mandate of agencies such as the Office of the Government Architect is an essential part of ensuring that design quality is achieved on all our major projects. Projects such as Elizabeth Quay are too significant an investment to fail, or to be compromised by short-term political influences. •

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Elizabeth Quay by ARM Architecture. Image: Peter Bennetts. •
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Elizabeth Quay, initial 'Circle' Scheme, by ARM Architecture. Image: ARM Architecture. Elizabeth Quay, 'Square' Scheme, by ARM Architecture. Image: ARM Architecture.
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Elizabeth Quay by ARM Architecture. Image: Peter Bennetts.
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The Goods Shed by Cox Howlett & Bailey Woodland with Griffiths Architects. Image: Alison Paine.

the goods shed: connections across time

Part of LandCorp's Claremont on the Park project, the State Registered Claremont Goods Shed has been transformed into a vibrant cultural hub for the precinct. The space is operated by FORM, a not-for-profit cultural organisation which has moved its head office to the Station Master's House across the railway line. FORM worked closely with Cox Howlett & Bailey Woodland and Griffiths Architects to restore the site and refurbish it as an arts space and community hub. An extremely tight budget saw this project delivered as a labour of love, with pro bono arrangements and the generous donation of products, time and effort by the project team.*

Built in 1887, the Goods Shed was originally used for loading and distributing goods along the Guildford to Fremantle railway line. Since its decommissioning, the building has also been used as a showroom, workshop and blacksmith’s forge. These historical narratives remain present in the current refurbishment and provide the stage for an engaging new community meeting and exhibition space.

When work began on the restoration, the original structure was found to be in good condition. According to Rebecca Carrick (architect, Cox Howlett & Bailey Woodland), the design developed around bringing this “filthy but beautiful” space to the forefront, preserving as much of the built fabric in its present state as possible and integrating modern elements with subtlety. The roof

required replacing so builders Cooper and Oxley carefully reused the original roof sheeting as external wall cladding. The site was cleaned up but paint and marks on the building were retained, left to tell the story of previous uses and interventions. New elements are coded in black and charcoal and designed to fade into the background. The simple black frames to the openings allow the old doors - some still operational - to take visual precedence, and the exposed air conditioning ductwork runs as a secondary element through the robust and utilitarian gantry and roof trusses of this still recognisably industrial space.

Due to the operational need to seal the space, internal walls are clad in simple white. A vision panel was created by stripping back the corrugated iron external cladding to reveal the original structural system behind. This opening also provides a visual connection to the railway station and offers glimpses into the exhibition space.

The coffee hub defines a natural entrance and once inside the program of the building’s original use remains distinct, informing current experiences of this space. Train tracks run from outside and through the central exhibition space, again denoting a connection with the exterior. The space is split across two levels since the upper level had been designed to allow the direct loading of goods onto trains. This informs the way FORM uses the space, as works can be viewed from different levels, which affects the way exhibitions

are curated. The use of the new space is informed by the functionally driven design of the original, creating a unique experience. This is not the usual ‘white box’ gallery.

When I visited the Goods Shed, augmented reality designers Hungry Sky were hosting a virtual reality event inspired by exhibiting Dutch artist Berndnaut Smilde’s ‘Builded Remnants’ exhibition. Participants could create and directly manipulate computer generated clouds in a historical Goods Shed building. This interactive timewarp of an app, which injected the current exhibition into the building’s past, was a serendipitous experience for me as I was thinking about the intermingling of narratives across time.

A constantly evolving program of exhibitions and events brings innovative ideas that respond to the community, and the non-commercial nature of the Goods Shed encourages interaction with and ownership of the space on a dayto-day basis. The minimal-intervention approach to the restoration has created a space in which the stories of previous use are held in place, but also cleverly establishes the setting to enact new uses and narratives of place. Enlivened, the Goods Shed is once again a centre of connection, activity and industry, bringing back into focus the evolving texture and stories of this site.

The Goods Shed opened in August 2016 and received the WA Australian Institute of Architects 2017 Award for Heritage

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*Thanks to: LandCorp, Claremont on the Park, Cox Howlett & Bailey Woodland, Griffiths Architects, Cooper & Oxley, Lotterywest, Australian Development Capital, HASSELL, Ian Lush & Associates, Western Power, Thermarate, Hera Engineering, Electrical Services Consulting, Strategic Fire Consulting, Kingspan, Reece, USG Boral, Dulux, Attica, Alti Lighting, Allied Air Contractors, Rider Levett Bucknall, Environmental Industries, Rondo, Rynat Industries.
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The Goods Shed by Cox Howlett & Bailey Woodland with Griffiths Architects. Image: Alison Paine.
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The Goods Shed by Cox Howlett & Bailey Woodland with Griffiths Architects. Image: Alison Paine. The Goods Shed by Cox Howlett & Bailey Woodland with Griffiths Architects. Image: Alison Paine.
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Väike-Õismäe by Mart Port. Image: Andrew Boyne.

väike-Õismäe: the power of an idea

In early 2017 the Gil Nicol Travel Prize took me on a tour of prefabricated building manufacturers in Estonia and Germany. Between factory tours in Estonia I explored ex-Soviet structures scattered through the Estonian landscape. Twenty five years after the dissolution of the Soviet Union these structures provide an interesting perspective on the power of ideas in architecture.

On the outskirts of Tallinn, VäikeÕismäe is a radial residential community currently home to 27,500 people. At first glance, the mass of concrete structures appears to perfectly align with images of the oppressive brutalist concrete apartment complexes one expects of the Soviet Union. Originally planned and built to address a severe housing shortage, local Estonian architects Mart Port and Malle Meelak used standardised precast concrete panels to form apartments stacked in a golden ratio of 5, 9 and 16 stories high. The apartment buildings are laid out in concentric rings encircling a 1.6ha common space that includes community facilities such as several schools and kindergartens, playing fields, and a central park with an oval shaped lake at the geometric centre. Väike-Õismäe was designed in the 1960s and, being located some distance from greater Tallinn, reflects a car culture with its ample parking but it is also provided with an electrified trolley bus running around the external ring.

On a cold, sunny spring morning, while people leisurely walked their

dogs around the lake and an old man fed bread crumbs to white swans, it became difficult to see this complex as the brooding and brutal expression of Soviet domination I had expected. Although the apartment buildings themselves relied on a standardised system of concrete panels, and the junctions between those panels were crude, the panel forms were impressed with a variety of rich textures and each apartment was adorned with oblique cantilevered balconies that cast rhythmic shadows over the facades. These shadows graduated around the sweeping, curved rows of textured concrete and presented a play of light and shadow that moved throughout the day. The high-rise apartments, each with splashes of coloured detailing, formed an occasionally perforated wall around a communal parkland that reminded me of a miniaturised version of Central Park in New York, yet these apartments were not owned by multi-millionaires. The open ground plan with its radial pedestrian pathways that cut through the bases of apartment buildings gave the sense that the hierarchy of space was dominated by communal access and community facilities as opposed to private ownership.

Väike-Õismäe was planned at a time of economic growth and climbing prosperity in the Soviet Union, coinciding with a revolution in Soviet architecture and design that made a clear break from the neo-classical Stalinist styles that had dominated until the mid 1950s. Designers of the USSR looked towards optimistic, international and modernist approaches that

expressed the perceived direction of the Soviet Union. At the time Väike-Õismäe was designed, Brutalism was part of a world-wide avant-garde, picking up on utopian ideals characterised by Le Corbusier’s Unité d'habitation of 1945 and was already well established in the UK and around the western world as a cutting-edge approach to public buildings and public housing. Unlike the relative small scale social housing projects built in the UK and single public buildings built elsewhere, the dominance of the Soviet state allowed huge developments like Väike-Õismäe to occur which more completely realized the aspirations of utopian architecture.

Contrary to the expression of domineering state power which I had anticipated, this development expressed to me the power of an idea: an egalitarian community where each apartment has views over a park, where each apartment is across the street from schools, nature and outdoor community facilities. Where each apartment is within 100m of public transport. Väike-Õismäe has its weaknesses as any aging 50 year old development does, and it may suffer from a lack of vitality provided by small shops and cafes that were not a big part of the original Soviet culture, but it is still a viable residential community to this day. Standing in the centre of this development while having my expectations shaken reminded me of the power of architecture, and the power of ideas in architecture. We build plenty of housing developments today, but I wonder how many of them are shaped by such strong convictions. •

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Väike-Õismäe by Mart Port. Image: Andrew Boyne. Väike-Õismäe by Mart Port. Image: Andrew Boyne.
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Väike-Õismäe by Mart Port. Image: Andrew Boyne.

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bargaining power

Any issue that unites Architects with Engineers, (Master) Builders and built-environment professionals generally, must be worth our attention. Procurement in WA: Government as 'model client' has been jointly authored by all these groups. Headed by Consult Australia with contributions by the Institute, this piece is important advocacy for our industry and worth a read.

Procurement may seem to be a boring topic. Something we readily think is best left to staid commercial managers, while we focus on creativity. However, to avoid ever-diminishing power and public trust, Architects must pay attention to how we are engaged so we can ensure commercial risk is allocated fairly on projects, and a collaborative contracting environment is established from the start so we can achieve a great outcome.

The report is strong thought leadership, developed in response to the WA Commission of Inquiry into Government Programs and Projects. The report's intention is to promote collaboration in the built-environment and to advocate moving away from the adversarial and legalistic stance typical of current government contracts. The joint authorship speaks from the heart of our industry and calls for positive culture change, fair risk allocation, and value for money. This is not a stone throwing exercise.

Speaking with Consult Australia's WA state manager Steve Coghlan, who was lead author, we drew out a few of the most pertinent points:

Collaborative culture and industry sustainability

At Government level, collaboration needs to happen between policy makers and built-environment professionals to provide for long term infrastructure planning and to ensure safeguarding of the local built-environment industry. More detail can be found in Building the West which outlines the need for an independent statutory authority in WA, Infrastructure WA. This would create a transparent, long-term and bipartisan infrastructure plan for WA which is decoupled from the 4-year political cycle. The Government not only needs to be a model client, but also a guardian of the state.

Careful innovation and collaboration at Project Definition Plan stage has the potential to produce great projects. NEC3 is a forerunner in collaborative contracts. First developed in 1993 as a balm to adversarial, fragmented building practices, NEC3 uses a partnering approach. This is something that could be considered in WA.

We also need collaboration within our professions. Our unanimous voice should promote that unusually low bids are unsustainable. Architects and built-environment professionals must understand our own costs and must tender at rates that allow enough money to produce a decent pre-tender documentation set. This lowers the risk of the project and provides a better outcome, thereby proving the value that built-environment professionals add.

A fair allocation of risk and the need for good risk management

In compiling the report, Steve heard built-environment professionals are more than happy to take responsibility for what they can control and insure. Currently on major projects within the State, risk is too often allocated according to bargaining power and not according to area of responsibility. Hence a greater than reasonable risk is often allocated to low-powered built-environment professionals. Such a practice can lead to poor project outcomes and therefore it is within both the client and consultants’ best interest to ensure a fair allocation of risk is established from the outset.

Value for money

We all know that value for money does not simply mean a low upfront cost. Infrastructure, especially buildings, can be complex: projects take a while to come into being but stay in use years after final completion. Too often a project is judged as ‘good’ if it is built within budget, within programme and safely, but we should also consider the wider implications: sustainability, future use possibilities, and adaptive reuse potential. Tax payers should expect infrastructure to be procured in a way that provides good return on investment over time. Value for money must consider whole of life costs, which will take creative and skilled design thinking.

The jointly authored report has been accepted by the Special Inquirer and is currently under consideration by the Commission. Their findings are due to be handed down in October and a response from the State Government expected in November. Stay tuned. •

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Roe 8 Protests. Image: Thor Kerr.

roe 8: politics and power in defence of place

Western Australia’s former premier, Colin Barnett, may be remembered for radically altering Perth’s riverfront, from the towers sprouting out of Elizabeth Quay, to the Ku De Ta landing, the future Waterbank buildings and the pedestrian bridge across Swan River to the new stadium. Yet he will also be remembered for the police columns his government despatched against thousands of citizens defending their special places in the city and across the state.

What makes people protest? What is it about a particular project or landscape that draws a ground-swell of resistance? Protesters at James Price Point, Heirisson Island and the Beeliar wetlands were never the “renta-crowd” talked about by members of Barnett’s government, project proponents and supportive media1 Rather, they were ordinary local and Indigenous people who resorted to using their own bodies and resources to halt nonsensical projects that threatened their ongoing relationship with cherished environments. Their care and rationality were intertwined with both memory of the pleasure of a place and a widely-held knowledge of environmental and democratic principles. People took collective action because they identified with

one another’s desire to maintain a meaningful relationship with a place that was threatened. This shared identification enabled hundreds to lock arms, or lock onto trees, in the face of approaching excavators, police and other powers.

Just three years after Barnett won Government, police began dragging Indigenous people and other environmental activists off a red dirt track in Goolarabooloo country, north of Broome, where they had assembled to stop machinery arriving to construct a gas-processing facility at James Price Point.2 A few months later, in 2012, police and rangers were sent in repeatedly to dismantle the Nyoongar Tent Embassy at Matagarup (Heirisson Island) as the Government attempted to silence Aboriginal dissent over a plan to extinguish native title in the Southwest of Western Australia. In 2015, police were deployed again at Matagarup to clear Aboriginal people from a refugee camp set up to publicise the effects of a government plan to bulldoze more than 150 Aboriginal communities.3 Then in late 2016 and early 2017 the police were out in force again, arresting a couple of hundred people from the thousands who had gathered to halt the clearing of Beeliar wetlands for the Roe toll-road project.4 These government initiatives

had to be defended with thousands of days of police time (not to mention dogs, horses, trucks and helicopters), and all of them were stopped in their tracks.

A helpful legacy of the Barnett Government would be the knowledge that a built environment project has failed the moment it requires assistance from the Police Commissioner.

Colin Barnett once had an ability to see when a project was doomed. He built his political comeback to lead the Liberal Party and win Government in 2008 partly on the strength of public opinion against the North Port Quay reclamation project. In response to the multi-billion-dollar North Port Quay proposal, Barnett took to the beach in shirt sleeves telling journalists that the development consortium was arrogant for trying to reclaim seabed off the coast of Fremantle for a multi-billiondollar residential resort. Barnett said he was against the project because the consortium did not own the site or have a government mandate to build the development, and because it would deny locals access to ‘their beaches’.5

Ironically, the road-building consortium at the Beeliar Wetlands didn’t own the site or have a government mandate for

1. 2. Thor Kerr & Shaphan Cox, 2016, ‘Media, Machines and Might: Reproducing Western Australia’s Violent State of Aboriginal Protection’, Somatechnics, 6(1), 89–105. 3. 4. 5. Thor Kerr, 2015, To the Beach: Community Conservation and its Role in ‘Sustainable Development’. Crawley, Australia: UWA Publishing. •

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its project, denying locals access to their cherished environment. Barnett ignored these factors, and his Government fell amid almost daily scenes of police cutting people off trees and excavation machinery as they defended the wetlands and neighbouring bushland.

These protests are expressions of place attachment.

The movements against North Port Quay and the Roe tollway didn’t emerge from nowhere. They were built on the back of years of work by local residents who had become aware of the aesthetic, health and heritage values of an environment that they regularly walked or jogged through and neighbourhoods that they lived in. People had come to understand the political organisation or action required to maintain a cherished environment. At Beeliar wetlands, people worked collectively to defend a diverse environment and a cultural place of the Aboriginal songline connecting Uluru

and the coast of Whadjuk Noongar country. Shared desire to maintain cherished place relations enabled the popular wetlands movement to transcend any differences between local6 and Indigenous knowledge. From across Perth’s southern suburbs municipal councillors, state and federal politicians and environmental activists lent support to the Beeliar wetlands defenders by promoting awareness of their cause on social media and joining them at rallies and vigils.

The State and Federal Liberal Governments, funding and promoting the road project, responded by trying to establish a broad community division against the wetlands defenders. This attempt to isolate the Beeliar wetlands movement included Liberal politicians in blue-ribbon seats promoting project benefits by way of job creation and reduced traffic on Leach Highway.

Federal Liberal MP Ben Morton was a big spender, buying the covers of local newspapers to advertise the project.

As the Greens candidate, I stood against Moreton in the seat of Tangney in the 2016 Federal election and then in the 2017 State election in Riverton against Liberal MP Mike Nahan, Treasurer in Barnett’s Government. Much of my campaign consisted of explaining why building a tollway through the wetland would not progress local business, reconciliation or the right to live in a healthy environment. Through slow conversation many people came around to seeing the Roe tollway project as regression rather than progression.7 This was my main contribution to the Beeliar wetlands movement, and it was arguably more helpful than the mornings that I joined large bodies of people standing in the way of excavation machinery or witnessing arrests.

Many now carry traumatic memories which form part of the meaning of these places.

In the weeks after the protest ended as Labor came into power, I met

6. ‘Locals’ tend to clear Indigenous Peoples from discourse, see Rob Garbutt, 2011, Locals: Identity, Place and Belonging in Australia and Beyond. Oxford: Peter Lang. 7. For insight into the silences in and around ‘progress’ see pages 21-22 of Tsing, A.L. (2015). The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 8. Renee Schipp (forthcoming), ‘Locked in an embrace with a Banksia’.

Roe 8 Protests. Image: Thor Kerr.
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many people who had been arrested while trying to halt the excavation of bushlands and wetlands at the Roe project site. Many were older people living near the site. There was unity in the local community determined to use their bodies as a last resort to stop the project: A mother and her adult son protested, and were both arrested.

Renee Schipp describes the experience of being a local resident who decided at short notice to lock herself onto a banksia tree to prevent its destruction and slow the road excavation works.8 While locked-on and after arrest Renee experienced a complete loss of privacy and basic freedoms. In the lockup, her physical welfare seemed to hang upon the kindness of police, and her psychological welfare relied upon expressions of solidarity with fellow prisoners. In her story some police officers, like other protesters, seem respectful and sympathetic, perhaps because they also identify with people taking action to safeguard a place.

Recent years have seen a re-shaping of Perth’s urban landscape. But for many people new memories of action taken, trauma endured, and lessons learned will be a living part of our built environment. •

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Roe 8 Protests. Image: Thor Kerr.

signs and symbols

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signs and symbols in medi-scapes: the mediation of power

I arrive at the hospital after an overnight flight. Without sleep, I feel quite at odds with my surroundings. The main entrance is a large, double-height space with plenty of natural light. The scale changes dramatically from the high entry to the long, tunnel-like green corridor that takes us to Medical Oncology. The colour, best described as hospital green, probably selected because of some ancient research on its therapeutic properties, feels alien to me.

As we leave the entrance and go deeper into the hospital’s core, the surroundings become much more familiar. This could easily be any hospital of its era anywhere in the world. The corridor’s extraordinary length, scale, smell and colour are familiar frames to my own remembered life events: visiting sick relatives, giving birth, sitting in emergency rooms, and witnessing the dying process. After going up one flight of stairs we arrive at a three-way junction. Left, to the waiting room. Straight on, to the Oncology Ward. And right, to some other corridor of extraordinary length. In the junction itself, the large, wall-hung sink and rubbish bin are surrounded by a myriad of directions to other wings of the hospital. Various instructions on hand-washing procedures and the use of gel, mobile phone policies, flower policies, coughing policies, security procedures, CCTV usage and fire equipment pepper the walls of the junction.

The Medical Oncology area is not open on weekends, thankfully, so we enter an empty waiting room and I sit down, somewhat overwhelmed. The blue vinyl

seats are set in a square with backs to the wall and facing each other, as if laid out for a group therapy session. There is a random pile of multicolour knitting on a side table (apparently this communal knitting is very popular with the regulars). I imagine everyone in the room wearing this giant woolly communal scarf that eventually fills up the whole room. In contrast to the woolly pile, the peach-coloured walls are covered in A4 photocopied notices that I cannot read from my chair. The large window, overlooking the landscape, is obscured behind a staff counter in the adjoining room.

Moving on, we enter the empty Chemical Treatment area. I ask which chair is most used for treatment, and sit in it. I am told that patients sit here for between four and six hours while being treated. From here my view is directly into the open door of the sluice room. Next to the door is a randomly-abandoned plastic commode that I cannot imagine anyone ever using. The chemical trolleys are also kept there with their yellow and black radioactivestyle signage. It feels very frightening. There is a terrible picture of a landscape hung crookedly behind my head, semiobscured by the drip stand. I move to a chair in the main space and sit there for a while. The main room is a large square shape with numerous squeaky pink vinyl recliner chairs and beds, arranged around the outside, facing the empty middle. There are obscured windows behind some of the chairs. In one corner is the nurse’s station held in a sound-proof glass box. My view from this chair is to the foot of the bed opposite. The wall behind the bed

is full of mobile phone and hand-washing notices arranged in-between stainless steel switch pads, drip hangers, plastic bags and an angle lamp. The outlook is visually chaotic and after a few minutes I have an overwhelming urge to leave. I am told that patients often request sedation while sitting here for up to 6 hours. This doesn’t surprise me.

Later in my visit, in a failed attempt to find real coffee unaccompanied, I end up lost and come across the Gastroenterology area. The waiting area is an appropriated dead end corridor. All the chairs are arranged in single file facing the opposite wall. I sit down and join the Gastro queue for a while. On the opposite wall there is a large plastic dado grab rail and above it is a huge array of posters and notices arranged in a random semi-linear pattern. To help with the stress of it all, the visible texts warn me to never get sunburnt; quit smoking; remember to pay for my parking; behave appropriately; get treated for hepatitis; and visit the chaplains. Notices also tell me about the bus routes, coeliac awareness week (three years ago), a costume exhibition, rights and responsibilities policy, fire instructions and security advice. Ironically, the distance between the posters and the seats makes everything but the headlines illegible. I find the space with its visual pollution claustrophobic. The posters feel noisy and intrusive in my mind in a similar way to loud TV adverts that interrupt the quiet mood of a film, or a radio station that hasn’t been tuned properly. I have an overwhelming urge to leave.

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Architecture is made first by design and later by use. Therefore, as Jonathon Hill (1998; 2003) tells us, the user can be as creative (or not) as the designer. He argues that “user creativity” should be a key concern of architectural design. Nowhere is this user creativity less apparent than in the liminal landscapes of our older, but still operational, hospitals. In the context of Western Australia’s quickly changing medical landscape, politically charged over costs and delays, I would like to reflect on the common design-by-use layers of ‘medi-scapes.‘ An analysis of this can inform a useful brief, and an essential rationale, for encouraging better support and design education for new ‘user-creatives’ that will occupy and control the next generation of medical spaces.

Noise in health spaces has been shown to contribute to stress and anxiety and to have a detrimental effect on health and well-being. I would suggest that similarly, visual pollution or visual noise in these spaces is every bit as stress-producing as the effects of aural noise. Mary Douglas, in Purity and Danger, suggests that we consider dirt as merely “matter out of place.” Therefore, all the everyday ‘stuff out of place’ shown here—commodes, wheelchairs, trolleys, buckets and

bins—combined with the visual pollution of signs, notices, posters, instructions and ironic art positioning contribute to a potentially toxic and polluted health space.

Thomas Marcus, in Buildings and Power, classifies building users as either inhabitants, visitors or strangers, and says that the purpose of a building is to interface the inhabitants and the visitors, while excluding strangers. In a hospital, the inhabitants (such as staff) are the primary controllers and most powerful within the space. Visitors, (such as patients, friends and family) who might be either long or short-term visitors, generally lack any control or power over the space they temporarily inhabit. Strangers, outside and excluded from the building, constitute everyone else.

The collaged images here, depicting the signs and symbols, surfaces, stuff and space from working hospitals across Australia, New Zealand and the UK, are indecipherably interwoven and reflect a common language: a medicalised language where the obvious organisational, power-driven layers overlay the designed environment. Much of the ‘helpful’ organisational and informational signage, often lacking currency, purpose or any visual

curating, is evident throughout hospital buildings regardless of geographical location. Despite the best attempts of any original designers, the images of the design-by-use are read collectively as de-humanising and stressproducing. The yellow OHS language is universally ‘noisy’ in polluting the space with powerful warnings and rules, interfaced with shiny modular surfaces and an incredible array of displaced stuff. In many of the hospitals I visited the staff I talked with did not notice, and seemed immune to, the compositional effect that these spaces, with the array of signs, symbols and medical stuff, might have on patients and their family.

There is no doubt that the modern hospital is a difficult, often dualistic landscape with many competing themes such as clean/dirty; efficient/ soulful; inhospitable/hospitable and familiar/alien. There is, I propose, a unique opportunity in our State, with all our new health buildings, to acknowledge that design does not finish at practical completion. Sharing design knowledge and education with usercreatives, armed with up-to-date local design research, could result in greater mediation and sharing of spatial power from inhabitant to visitor. •

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References: Douglas, Mary. 1966. Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo. London: Routledge. • Hill, Jonathan. 1998. The Illegal Architect. London: Black Dog Publishing. • Hill, Jonathan. 2003. Actions of Architecture: Architects and Creative Users. London: Routledge. • Marcus, Thomas. 1993. Buildings and Power: Freedom and Control in the Origin of Modern Building Types. London: Routledge. • Ulrich, R. S. 2007: Public Lecture on Evidenced-based healthcare design, 7th Aug 2007, WB MacDonald Lecture Theatre, Princess Margaret Hospital, Subiaco.
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Council House by Jeffrey Howlett and Don Bailey. Image: Fiona Giles.

modes of power: a reflection on perth’s council house

Power has had many faces and many expressions. Historically, opulent palaces replaced impenetrable keeps. Since the rise of modernity there has been a greater emphasis on the democratic values of servitude and accountability and so we see the idea of power being conveyed through notions of transparency and openness.

In Perth’s post-colonial history perhaps no other building better expresses the emergence of these values than Council House. Plans for a new town hall date back to 1954, a perceived period of cultural and social stability, yet the land on which this modernist ocean liner sits stranded is subject to ongoing tales of power, hegemony and control.

Council House was meant to serve as a local landmark, to “make a distinctive contribution to the city’s appearance…” and be designed employing the services and “the ideas of the best architects in all the schools of their profession.”1

But the plans were contentious from the outset. The site, some argued, needed to be a landmark on Perth’s foreshore, while others insisted on the importance of its connection with the City of Perth. On 9th of March 1959 a decision regarding the siting of Council House was reached by Town Clerk William Green, former president of the WA

Chapter of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects (RAIA). Green rejected the Perth foreshore as a possible location on the grounds of “difficulties of access” 2 and embraced its current location next to Government House, opposite St Georges Cathedral and Treasury, and in front of the Supreme Court. The grouping of judiciary, executive, financial, and reformative powers meant that Council House found a practical home in the civic precinct.

The winning project was selected by a prominent panel including Professor Brian Lewis, Harry Seidler, Leslie Perrot and A E (Paddy) Clare. Out of the sixtyone proposals by RAIA members the proposal of Melbourne architects Jeffrey Howlett and Don Bailey was chosen.3 It responded well to the competition brief, distributing the £1,600,000 budget among the office block, the required auditorium for 2,500 spectators, a lesser hall capable of 1,000 and a banquet hall for 1,200 guests.

Long before construction started, Howlett and Bailey’s proposal was subject to the antiquated criticisms of its detractors as it did not feature the perceived trademarks of a civic building: “Our proposed new Town Hall has no clock and no dome roof, both of which are essential civic building requirements.” 4 Such lack

of appreciation, and ever-increasing criticism, led to a neglect of the Council House that would, in the mid 1990s, culminate in a proposal for its demolition.

In the subsequent design stage, however, Howlett had envisioned the possibility of opening up the ground floor and connecting the St George’s Terrace entrance with the public hall at the rear of the site,5 so enhancing, in addition to its literal translucence, the phenomenological transparency of the building.

However, the realisation of Council House did not proceed exactly as proposed by its creators. The original project was soon adapted to allow for the future growth of an administrative presence by raising the building height from nine to twelve stories. In order to maintain the viability of the project it was decided to postpone the construction of the auditorium as the circular shape raised doubts in relation to its acoustic performance. The auditorium was eventually abandoned; however the construction of the new Concert Hall further to the east of Government House, commissioned in 1968 and completed by Howlett and Bailey in 1973 allowed the tangible integration of the civic value to be maintained within the precinct.

- 391. Editorial in the local newspaper, the West Australian 19.12.58. cited in London, Geoffrey. 2012. ‘The Building and its Controversies’. 50 Years Council House 1963-2013. Council House 2012. p. 16. 2. Memorandum by Town Clerk W McInnes Green to the General Purposes Committee 9.3.59 cited in London 2012, p. 17. 3. London 2012, p. 18. 4. Daily News 7.9.60 cited in London 2012, p. 25. 5. London 2012, p. 20. •
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Government House and Council House by Jeffrey Howlett and Don Bailey. Image: Francesco Mancini, 2016. Council House Model designed by Howlett and Bailey. Image: Robert Frith Acorn Photo.

Council House features transparency as one of its key design elements, a widely adopted symbol of accountability, which has often been associated with the democratic process of administering the public domain ever since the WW2. Utilising floor-to-ceiling double-glazed walls, the innovative architectural solution of the time and became one of the two first office buildings in Perth to be air conditioned. This new image of power became not just a symbol, but it is also performative. Its technical realisation defines a different space and a new relationship between the interior and the exterior.

The diverse voices who shaped the public debate and the campaign for the preservation of Council House have become perhaps the most significant metaphorical expression of the building’s social value as a civic democratic institution. With the undivided support of politicians on both sides of the bench, and ever-vocal members of the RAIA and representatives of the general public, Council House survived the 1990s.

The refurbishment was carried out in 1997 by Peter Hunt and Daryl Jackson Architects, based on the business plan proposed by Greg Howlett. The renovation project managed to reintroduce some of the original intentions which aimed at providing greater public engagement and interaction. In particular improving connectivity between the street and Stirling Gardens towards the Supreme Court, and removing the parking area from the forecourt.6 In 2006 Council House was added to the State Heritage list.

Council House was built in the midst of change and that the project was not completed as initially envisioned proved a missed opportunity. When built in 1963 Council House was an icon of a modernism that was meant to represent a change towards participatory government. Over time, while a number of urban development schemes included this building in their proposals for the City and foreshore connection, very little eventuated which specifically concerned Council House.7

Though considered part of Perth’s social and cultural precinct, Council House has not really enhanced public life in the CBD. Projects such as Elizabeth Quay and the Treasury precinct redevelopment did not heavily involve either Stirling Gardens or Council House, so it remains a business-related ‘special destination’. The Council House precinct is characterised by a shift from the public to the financial domain rather than allowing civic or urban connections. It perhaps demonstrates Perth’s unwillingness to adapt to a new mode of power. According to Bolleter “much of the built work [on Perth’s foreshore] contributed little to Perth’s identity because the investment decisions about such developments were being made elsewhere.” 8 But Architecture has limits: despite the transparency of the façade, the new verosol blinds have considerably reduced the transparency of the building. In the same way, the power of government remains impenetrably opaque. •

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6. Darbyshire, Jo. 2012. ‘A second life: How Council House was saved’. 50 Years Council House 1963-2013. Council House 2012. p. 36. 7. Bolleter, Julian. 2015. Take me to the river: the story of Perth’s foreshore. Crawley, WA: University of Western Australia Press. 8. Bolleter, 2015, p. 70.

‘3 over 4 under’ 2017 – on reality

Creating architecture is the process of converting an idea into reality. As we walk along the path from idea to built form, we gradually uncover aspects of reality which influence our designs, such as site constraints, planning requirements, budgets, client expectations and so on. It is these realities which ultimately shape our projects.

There is often a stark contrast between the perception and expectation of architecture and its reality. The profession enjoys a glamorous representation in popular culture which rarely reflects the reality of day to day practice. We also live in a time where technology has allowed architectural images to appear closer to reality than ever. Virtual reality and media means people can experience buildings before they are built or visited. Yet still expectations are constantly challenged by the reality.

We asked this year’s contributors: ‘What realities have you had to face and overcome to deliver a great project? Has reality itself been another challenge or provided that aha! moment? Perhaps you avoid reality altogether and create imagined spaces or unbuilt works instead.’

#1 (over)

Rebecca Carrick


NAWIC is an Australian Not-For-Profit organisation formed in 1995 whose mission is to champion and empower

women in the construction and related industries to reach their full potential. There is an independently managed chapter in every state, which are run by passionate volunteers who all have fulltime jobs in the industry.

The future of NAWIC is steady and strong. Membership and relevance is increasing, and the Chapters continue to provide high-quality education, mentoring, awards and networking opportunities

#2 (under)

Holly Farley

Holly Farley is an Architectural Graduate and PhD candidate at Curtin University. After completing her Masters in Victoria, Holly worked in practice and adventured around Australia and the Americas. Holly’s interest in First Nations culture drew her to Western Australia to explore housing procurement in remote Aboriginal communities.

When researching housing within in the remote regions of the northern goldfields, within a number of Aboriginal communities, Holly was stuck by the limitations of typical consultation methods. She developed ‘The House Game’: a way of facilitating conversation about the realities of housing and how the participant felt the domiciliary environment should function. The architect was not in control of the spatial mapping or implying which activities should occur where. The reality is that the

participant is always the expert when it comes to understanding the spatial requirement of sociocultural activities within their home and community.

#3 (under)

Jono Harris + Rhys Jenkins Harris Architects

Harris Architects is a boutique practice based in Fremantle with a developing body of work that reflects a strong interest and focus on housing typologies. Through this work the practice interrogates the role of architecture to provide housing that meets the challenges of our changing cities. The practice believes architects must play a far greater role in shaping the housing sector, to ensure that quality built form outcomes are delivered that improve the sustainability, sociability and affordability of living in our urban environment.

Occasionally, a different reality emerges; a project that provides greater architectural control of the whole design and construction process. An ‘escape’ from reality. Raw enthusiasm provides the drive for generating courageous architectural ideas, concepts start to emerge. “We will challenge the way people live and occupy buildings. This will be the most sustainable and affordable building we’ve ever done. This is it, the sky’s the limit.”

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#4 (over)

Janine Betz BETZIE

Today the drawing board has become obsolete and the ability to sketch is as secondary as neat handwriting. Now virtual reality is the substitute for imagination; an ability that has defined our profession for centuries suddenly loses significance.

It becomes increasingly important that architects think of new ways to remain relevant. This means thinking beyond the building envelope and joining the global conversation about the greatest demographic shift in human historyurbanisation.

The level of influence the development and construction industry enjoys is significant but architects have yet to find their voice. We live in a bubble that promotes aesthetics and superficial originality; celebrating ourselves and nurturing our image as blackwearing, creative genii. Thus we limit our circle of influence and fail to initiate positive change. Emotional detachment allows a new perspective of a reality that is bigger than architecture.

#5 (under)

Alison Paine

Alison Paine is an Accredited Professional Photographer (AIPP) and graphic designer who worked for Cox Howlett & Bailey Woodland for fifteen years; the last eight years in the capacity of Graphics Manager and

in-house photographer. In 2016 Alison established her own company, Alison Paine Photographer.

Working alongside architects for fifteen years has given Alison an exceptional insight into the workings of architectural studios, building types and the design process. Being immersed in the marketing of a studio has honed her skills of seeing what makes a truly memorable photograph.

For the theme of ‘On Reality’ Alison poses these questions:

• What does a non-architect’s view of architecture look like?

• What can architects and photographers learn from each other?

• What is the reality of a shoot and post-production work?

• What is the reality of competition within the two professions?

• What is the reality of an architectural photographer’s life?

#6 (over)

Craig Smith City of Perth

After asking for a single piece of advice from Ross Chisholm on architectural practice, he replied “Have political friends”. This is the reality of how the world works. Architects lack a consistent political imperative. If we don’t move into that space, someone with less talent and capacity will.

Architects tackle planning constraints with 'better' concepts, only to be

persecuted by planners. Instead, talk to the council before putting pen to paper, get your designs reviewed as early as possible and be nice to planners.

It is an architects job to make clients into good clients to let them produce better buildings. Architects can do the design by themselves.

#7 (under)

Olivia Chetkovich

The Architect

'The Architect' was established as the official journal of the then Royal Australian Institute of Architects Western Australia (RAIAWA) in 1939. Its purpose was ‘to give to the public, the profession and the other various interests in the building industry current information in regard to the latest building methods, architectural design and construction, and other matters of a similar nature’.

At that time RAIAWA membership numbered just 57, no schools of architecture were yet established, and the journal was operating as a commercial publication. Now 'The Architect' can be understood as a record of our industry in WA – a snapshot of this moment in time. 'The Architect' currently operates as a representation of ourselves to ourselves, and beyond. •

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addressing power and sharing power

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ten from ten

We asked ten architects and associated professionals ten questions about addressing power and sharing power.

Project manager for the Historic Heart Project, which aims to revitalise Perth’s east end, and also a residential architect.

What is the most powerful piece of architecture in your experience?

Can you describe a moment with that building/space?

For me, it is Antonio Gaudi in Barcelona. Gaudi’s work is powerful because of its uniqueness, the curvy liquid lines and forms that look like they are melting, standing in stark contrast to the surrounding serious, rectilinear buildings. What adds to the power of Gaudi’s architecture is that behind his whimsical forms are highly sophisticated mathematics and structural engineering based on nature.

How does power affect your work?

As a residential architect, power is about empowering the client to express their views—encouraging them to explain what they would like their home to be. For most residential clients, their home is the single biggest investment they

will make in their life and they should enjoy both the design process and the outcome.

The Historic Heart Project is about empowering the community of Perth’s east end to drive change in their neighbourhoods. The idea of community-led not-for-profit groups leading neighbourhood revitalisation is growing in Perth and internationally. Already this movement has sprouted groups like Leederville Connect, Beaufort Street Network and West Perth Local.

With recent societal shifts and ideas like the sharing economy do you think power is becoming more visible in the built environment?

Power has always been visible in the built environment. From the size of a house to the scale of a new football stadium these are expressions of where power lies.

Other than collective workspaces I think we are yet to see what impact the sharing economy will have on the built environment in Perth. But it will be interesting to see what happens over time, for example, what will Airbnb mean for housing design and what will Uber mean for the design of our public transport networks?

I think the most visible power shift in Perth's built environment at the moment is from the city to the suburbs. With the expansion of suburban shopping centres suburbs are becoming

places where people live and can also be entertained. One of the issues the Historic Heart project deals with is: How does the city respond to this power shift and maintain relevance and vibrancy?

On the topic of addressing power, tell us about a time you stood up and spoke up even when you were scared… I have stood up and spoken up quite a few times in my career! Prior to studying architecture, I was a lawyer for 10 years and this definitely influences my views on architecture and the profession of architecture. I guess I look at things from a different perspective, and I have learned not to be afraid to express my point of view.

One topic of particular interest to me is registration. I think architecture graduates should be encouraged and supported to complete the requirements to register as an architect much earlier in their career. After studying law you typically go through an articles training program in your first year and you become registered as a lawyer within 2 years. In contrast, most architecture graduates don’t seek registration as an architect for 5 years or more after graduation, and some never register.

As of 30 June 2016 there were 1,357 registered architects in Perth (with only 278 female). I think the profession would benefit from greater numbers—which importantly would give the profession a much louder voice in the community.

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In your workplace, do you take actions to share power, or benefit from others that do?

I always take action to share power and collaborate. Everyone brings a different perspective and different skills to a project, so embracing diversity and providing an environment for each individual to be empowered to deliver in their role is important to successfully delivering any project. It is important to leverage off a varied skill base and different points of view. There is so much to be gained.

Some say the role of Architects is changing, how do you experience or envision sharing power with other professions?

I think that architecture, like all professions, is facing challenges of disruption. The role of architects has to change.

From what I have seen, architects already share their power with many others. I think architects need to take back some power. This may mean advocating for legislation requiring mandatory use of architects for certain projects. This type of legislation is commonplace in the United States and Europe.

What power do you think community has in shaping the urban and architectural environment?

The community are the ones who engage architects and therefore influence the outcome of the design process and the urban and architectural environment. For this reason, engaging the Perth community in a conversation

on design is critical and this is currently lacking. For example, our local newspapers lack architecture content, with the various liftout magazines read by many now completely advertorial and focused on builders rather than design. Broader circulation of The Architect would be great.

What is the power of mentoring within architecture in WA?

Throughout my careers in law and architecture, I have benefited from great mentors. With architecture in particular I think it is much like an apprenticeship. There are some things that cannot be taught at university. You need work experience and a good mentor.

How can architecture empower the end user of a building or space?

Great spaces make people feel better. Whether it is a school, hospital or workplace, a great building will instil a sense of pride and make people happy.

Can you tell us about a time when your network was the most powerful aspect of a situation – the thing that made something happen?

My networks are very valuable to me and are built on long term friendships and relationships. These relationships have helped me throughout my careers in many areas, whether it is seeking work experience and employment or mentoring and support for a particular project.

With the Historic Heart Project the creation of an east end network has

been fundamental. In the past year we have met over 100 groups—private landowners, business owners and other stakeholders—to discuss their current concerns and future aspirations for Perth’s east end. This engagement period has enabled us to establish a clear understanding of the key issues affecting the east end and has helped to create an east end community.

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Architect and Director at Project857, Creative Director at Open House Perth.

What is the most powerful piece of architecture in your experience?

Can you describe a moment with that building/space?

The Sydney Opera House and the Chapel Notre Dame du Haut at Ronchamp – the way light, material, volume and texture interplay is something I found deeply moving. The sense that really great architecture can frame and enhance your view of the world is a significant thing. Having said that, as someone that moved around a lot as both a child and adult I often think about the various homes I have lived in, how that framed my perception of the place and also the memories I have. A reminder that the everyday is just as significant as the magnificent… just in a different way.

How does power affect your work? I like to think more democratically

about my work; that everyone has the same rights regardless of background, race, religion etc. The whole inalienable truth thing…

With recent societal shifts and ideas like the sharing economy do you think power is becoming more visible in the built environment?

Power and autonomy are concepts that we see represented in the built environment. I would like to see more egalitarian responses to the built environment and an increase in engagement with context and natural environment beyond a vernacular typology.

On the topic of addressing power, tell us about a time you stood up and spoke up even when you were scared… Every time I speak about something I am passionate about. Understanding that there is always someone in the audience who disagrees with my point of view, the biggest objective is to find a way for the conversation to be as relatable and as meaningful as possible, regardless of someone’s preconceptions when they walk in the door.

In your workplace, do you take actions to share power, or benefit from others that do?

I would like to think we have open conversations so input can be universal. Architecture and the design process are about constantly learning. It doesn’t matter if someone has five weeks experience or fifty years, or even

if they aren’t part of the profession. There is always something to gain from a shared conversation.

Some say the role of Architects is changing, how do you experience or envision sharing power with other professions?

Benjamin Franklin said, "When you're finished changing, you're finished." And, RuPaul Charles said "When the going gets tough, the tough reinvent."

What power do you think community has in shaping the urban and architectural environment?

Community has more power now than ever before. Social media has given everyone the opportunity to have a voice. Architecture has an exciting opportunity to manifest this in unique and bold new ways. In that respect, Architecture is in a distinct position to effect change and enhance community.

What is the power of mentoring within architecture in WA?

WA is home to some of the most talented, most lovely architects in the world. My experience of Architecture in WA is that is mostly generous and collegiate. There is a strong spirit within the profession of helping and mentoring for the common good. Legacy is more significant than egos or silos.

How can architecture empower the end user of a building or space? In multitudes! We have the rare

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opportunity to enhance people’s lives and their interaction with the built environment every day. It’s not a professional right, it’s both a privilege and an obligation.

Can you tell us about a time when your network was the most powerful aspect of a situation – the thing that made something happen?

Open House Perth.

Associate Director Parry and Rosenthal Architects

What is the most powerful piece of architecture in your experience?

Can you describe a moment with that building/space?

The most powerful pieces of architecture I have visited have embodied stories within the place.

The one that stands out in my mind is a cave at the Marble Mountains in Vietnam, which was used as refuge and field hospital during the Vietnam War and then transformed into a Buddhist temple by the people after the war. To me this represents the ultimate peace after the horror. An opening was made in the roof of the cave by a bomb during the war, allowing a single beam of light from the sky to penetrate to the cave floor, where the statue of the Buddha sits. It was extremely moving for me to be within that space.

How does power affect your work?

I would have to say that power affects almost every aspect of my relationship

with clients, consultants and builders. At the moment I am working mostly in the police, justice and infrastructure sectors, which are traditionally male dominated sectors. There are often times when I am challenged to define my role within a project and defend my abilities as a young female professional. In my experience, the most successful projects were ones that didn’t have unnecessary energies placed on power struggles, but instead trust was placed in each other’s abilities to deliver a great outcome.

With recent societal shifts and ideas like the sharing economy do you think power is becoming more visible in the built environment?

In a city like Perth where much of the economy is driven from the success of mining, I think the idea of power is more linked to wealth than anything else. If you look at the Perth city skyline it seems the most prominent buildings belong to mining companies, so my feeling is that unfortunately, power has always been visible in our built environment and probably will continue to be at least in our lifetime.

In other places, power may not be as immediately obvious, or perhaps it may not necessarily be the idea of wealth that is linked to power but it may be government, politics or religion.

On the topic of addressing power, tell us about a time you stood up and spoke up even when you were scared… I guess when someone is being aggressive towards you, it’s always

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difficult to speak up to them. There have been times in my career where I have been challenged in a less than polite way. Especially in the case of contract administration during construction, I have had to stand up and respond, but never in an equally aggressive way because that would never result in anything positive. Fortunately, most of the times where I’ve experienced conflict like this, the situation has been sorted out quickly without any trouble.

In your workplace, do you take actions to share power, or benefit from others that do? I am a big believer in empowering everyone in our workplace to choose which path they want to go, and then to help develop their skills and expertise to be the best that they can be. I have found over the years of mentoring students and graduates that the best outcomes come from trusting the abilities of young people with guidance from the more senior architects. I think I try and share power so that we all get to benefit from it.

Some say the role of Architects is changing, how do you experience or envision sharing power with other professions?

In my experience, there seems to have been a progressive cultural shift in the perception of architects and the role we play in the delivery of projects within our built environment. In some instances, clients see architects as the designers only and insist on apportioning the services traditionally carried out by the architect to others, such as the engagement of project

managers to administer contracts during construction. I am a strong advocate of retaining the contract administration skillset within the architectural profession to achieve the highest possible outcome in terms of quality. To have the critical understanding of a project from design through to completion is so special and powerful, not only from an architect’s point of view but also for a client, and I am not ready to see our profession give that up yet.

What power do you think community has in shaping the urban and architectural environment?

The community has great power in shaping its urban and built environment. It seems the more accessible design has become through apps like Pinterest and Instagram, the more people have developed an understanding of design and have as a result become more engaged with design in their immediate environments. Events such as Open House also invite people into the physical world of design, and local governments are increasingly encouraging public comment on strategies to improve public spaces.

What is the power of mentoring within architecture in WA?

Mentoring the next generation of architects is one of the most important things I think we can do for our profession. To share the knowledge, skills and vision for architecture within WA and the rest of the world keeps the

profession as we know it from dying. There are many professions in this world that will eventually be replaced by technology, but the ability to design a space for people to enjoy, and then see it through to completion and occupation, can never be replaced.

How can architecture empower the end user of a building or space?

In the projects that I have been involved with, bringing end-users and wider community into the design phase can allow them to understand the process from beginning to end, and empowers them to share in the ownership of the project. It becomes even more special when artwork from the end user is incorporated into the design and becomes a part of the space that can be shared with all future users of the building.

Can you tell us about a time when your network was the most powerful aspect of a situation – the thing that made something happen?

I am part of the Association for Learning Environments where a network of architects and educators come together from all over the world with a shared vision to develop and enrich learning environments in our schools, which is a pretty rare opportunity in our profession. This process of interaction enhances the dialogue between designers and teachers that might not otherwise exist at this high level, and is powerful enough to improve the design of educational facilities on a global scale. ...

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Graduate at Taylor Robinson Architects

What is the most powerful piece of architecture in your experience?

Can you describe a moment with that building/space?

The most powerful piece of architecture I ever experienced involved a series of banal modernist structures (multi storey parking lots and telecommunication infrastructure compounds) that sat between two prominent streets in Durban, South Africa. Having grown up in the City, the buildings always seemed to be a series of innocuous utilitarian structures; however upon investigation of their stated purpose and historical significance as a part of a 3rd year studio case study, their true power and lasting legacy was revealed.

Built on an old Victorian-era open air mall, the intent of the Apartheid-era city planners and Government was to racially segregate the City, right at the point where freedom of association and transaction between individuals of various races was occurring.

They achieved this through the monolithic structures that to this day form an impenetrable barrier dividing the City centre.

It was this investigation that led me to understand architecture as the physical manifestation of culture, inherently political. Architecture has the intergenerational power to impede the freedom of association and markets long after the political paradigm that manifested its creation no longer exists. The most striking lesson, and one that has stuck with me, is that it is profoundly immoral to collectivise individuals into groups based on immutable characteristics and determine the justice owed to them based on those characteristics. It allowed me to develop a moral\ normative world view based on limited government and Liberty that has impacted all facets of my life, particularly my work.

How does power affect your work?

As the building process has become more complex the power centre within the delivery process has somewhat decentralised across the various invested disciplines and entities. This dispersal of the power centre in delivery has multiplied and magnified the potential impact that each individual discipline and entity can have on the quality of architecture. Understanding the interplay between the multi-faceted power structures of these competing entities and how to manoeuvre within them in order to effect a positive

architectural outcome has become one of the architect’s most important roles.

With recent societal shifts and ideas like the sharing economy do you think power is becoming more visible in the built environment?

In a word no. One outcome of the decentralisation of power mentioned in the previous question is that the various State and Local Government institutions have begun to legislate architectural outcomes. These are usually based on the whims and behest of State actors that have ulterior and conflicting motives from the community they serve.

As more power is ceded to the State, with the inevitable increase of onerous regulation, so the power disperses across the various State and Local Government departments hidden behind a seemingly impenetrable wall of bureaucracy. Not only does this add more complexity to an already complex process but it increases the cost of producing buildings, ensuring that the services of architects remain the purview of the wealthy elite.

On the topic of addressing power, tell us about a time you stood up and spoke up even when you were scared… I am currently working on a couple of projects that are on site. As is typical with the building process there are disputes, often with cost implications, that happen for various reasons including builder's error or incorrect\ vague documentation. In these disputes

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with contractors, the potential of financial risk to the client is great, which not only reflects poorly upon you and the company you represent, but also jeopardises future work procurement from your client. These disputes tend to cause anxiety particularly, if like myself, your experience and knowledge is limited, and one slip or miscalculation could see the blame being placed squarely on you. Over the past year I’ve had several such anxiety-filled disputes that I have had to address, which could have resulted in significant variation claims to the client.

In your workplace, do you take actions to share power, or benefit from others that do?

In my opinion, due the complex nature in the delivery of architecture, architectural practices need to share power across their staff to maximise the potential and efficiency of their employees. I have been fortunate enough to be able to work for a firm that somewhat decentralises the power across its staff, allowing junior staff to take more ownership and responsibility in the projects that involve them. This has allowed me to gain a greater depth in understanding of the various facets of architecture and its delivery.

Some say the role of Architects is changing, how do you experience or envision sharing power with other professions?

Due to the aforementioned increase in complexity of the delivery of built form, the role of the architect has moved from principal agent to an individual

member of a team of consultants. Whilst this is necessary in the delivery of buildings, it can relegate architecture to a second tier concern. I think in the future the architectural practice that produce highest quality work will be the talented firms that understand how to manipulate these dispersed power structures in order to achieve their desired outcomes.

What power do you think community has in shaping the urban and architectural environment?

A community has a significant power in shaping their architectural and urban environment, whether it is through petitioning local councils, political parties and State entities to achieve their desired outcomes (The Roe Highway) or through the market forces they exert to entice developers/private investors to provide amenity for their community. My preference is always to avoid the coercive force of the State in favour of a free market led solution but it is possible to have a positive urban outcome by either avenue of community power.

What is the power of mentoring within architecture in WA?

Mentoring is a powerful tool by which to teach young and up-and-coming architects\graduates how to navigate the various power centres within the profession, providing them with skills that cannot be taught at university. Mentoring allows graduates, in particular, the ability to transition from the university environment to

the professional environment since the goals of each environment can sometimes seem diametrically opposite to one another.

How can architecture empower the end user of a building or space?

Architecture at its best aids the individual to translate their environment and live their life in the manner that they deem suitable. It should be a stage from which freedom of association and transaction becomes paramount whilst still translating the positive attributes of space to instil an indelible sense of place on both the conscious and subconscious levels.

Can you tell us about a time when your network was the most powerful aspect of a situation – the thing that made something happen?

Growing up in South Africa, education was always a priority in my family; however there wasn’t much in the way of funds for me to go to university to study architecture. Through my network of family members, friends and acquaintances I was able secure the funds\loans to complete my studies, which afforded me the opportunity to migrate to this wonderful state and country.

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What is the most powerful piece of architecture in your experience?

Can you describe a moment with that building/space?

Power and architecture can be considered at so many levels. I would say the most powerful experience of architecture I have had was in visiting the pyramids of Giza. The wonder of the size of the construction in the context, transcending time and evocative of a belief that is hard to match. However, more modest gestures often resonate more: the restraint of Ando’s work in Japan, the sense of feeling better in well-designed spaces when space and light are expertly crafted by those that you admire.

How does power affect your work?

Power has a profound effect on our work. The client has the ultimate power of approval of work and this often drives outcomes. Without clients we cannot realise our visions, though it is

also important that we think carefully about the manner in which we respond. What is often forgotten is the fact that we are a service-based industry. This is important, though if we always bend to a client’s wish there is no doubt the quality of architecture is diminished.

Power from another perspective is the ability of good architecture to elicit emotion and to impact positively on the health and wellbeing of people who use our buildings.

With recent societal shifts and ideas like the sharing economy do you think power is becoming more visible in the built environment?

Power has always been visible in the built environment, previously perhaps more obviously, particularly where various regimes have used it to represent their power. I think that the sharing economy reduces power in the sense that solutions for the built environment can be procured from anywhere. In many ways this is good because collaboration and sharing should improve outcomes. However it is also concerning as it potentially treats creativity and design as a commodity: less about the journey of truly understanding a brief, instead more about image.

On the topic of addressing power, tell us about a time you stood up and spoke up even when you were scared… I have been apprehensive, though not scared, when faced with the power of community objection to what we do.

It is not unusual for small vocal groups to object to changes to their environment. This was certainly evident in South Perth, where there has been a highly organised group objecting to building height, often misrepresenting reality and our motivations. This often manifests as an attack on character. I deal with this by believing in what we are doing, which is creating desirable living places for many more than the real number of objectors. It is good to remind yourself that there is often a silent majority who are supportive and like what we do.

In your workplace, do you take actions to share power, or benefit from others that do? For almost 20 years I was effectively a sole director of my practice. Certainly I have had highly valued employees whose capacity to share responsibility and therefore power, contributed greatly over that time. However I did resist sharing ownership and power in that sense. Over the past year I have promoted four new directors who now have ownership.

It has been a great pleasure to see the benefits that shared ownership brings. Each Director has their own unique skills so we all benefit from a more cohesive and focussed work environment. Obviously, highly talented staff are identified for promotions to positions of “power” and it has been rewarding to see how they have grown to act as and to be seen to be leaders.

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Some say the role of Architects is changing, how do you experience or envision sharing power with other professions?

The role of Architects has already changed substantially. Recently it has been diluted as new areas of expertise have developed and other professions take a greater part in the realisation of the built environment. In some ways this is good, though I would argue that architects have given up too much. The implementation and control of BIM is an opportunity for architects to reestablish their role as lead consultant. As a profession we should take responsibility for the entire outcome, so that if, for example, value management is required we have a greater say in what may be achieved.

What power do you think community has in shaping the urban and architectural environment?

The community certainly has the power to shape the urban and architectural environment. Increasingly, local authorities, planners and architects use community workshops to determine what is important. I have no doubt that these workshops result in better built outcomes. Importantly, they represent a broader view of community expectations rather than the narrow, ‘not in my back yard’ mentality. However the challenge is to try to ensure that the majority of demographics (younger etc) and the wider community such as ’the State’ are represented in these forums.

What is the power of mentoring within architecture in WA?

Mentoring is invaluable at many levels. Certainly mentoring schemes for undergraduates and recent graduates need to be progressed. As Chair of the Practice Committee I have been in discussions to see how we can reinvigorate the Small Practice Group. Learning from each other by sharing how to mitigate risk and reflecting on what has worked well in building a practice is invaluable to all of the profession. Emerging firms can benefit from some of the IP which more established firms should be happy to share.

How can architecture empower the end user of a building or space?

Architecture can empower end-users in so many ways. The creation of effective functional spaces improves lifestyle, work environments, performance and productivity.

Our new office environment is a significantly more collaborative environment than the previous one. I believe that this empowers us all as we have a greater connection to what each other is doing. Great hospital design can enhance healing, and houses which respond to the environment contribute to a great sense of wellbeing.

Can you tell us about a time when your network was the most powerful aspect of a situation – the thing that made something happen?

I often rely on my network to make things happen. Through the

development business I am involved in, I have established a wider network outside the profession which supports the projects we propose. In a relatively short period of time we have been able to contemplate significantly larger projects that we may have considered impossible five years ago. I would encourage all practitioners to network. This should not be just left to company directors and business development managers. Even relatively junior staff can advance their careers by leveraging their network. Your next career move or project can come from the most unexpected connections.

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Owner of designer furniture destination

Mobilia with her partner Sam.

What is the most powerful piece of architecture in your experience?

Can you describe a moment with that building/space?

I am a lot more conscious of architecture now than when I was younger given the industry I work in. However, the first piece of architecture to move me was when I was only 15 and I visited I.M Pei’s Louvre Pyramid in Paris. The juxtaposition of the modern structure and the French Renaissance architectural style strikes me as such a powerful demonstration of Pei’s courage to create a building that is so magnificent in its own right with such a historical backdrop.

How does power affect your work?

I feel my work is affected by power in a positive way. Dealing with varying power dynamics with different cultures from international suppliers always provides an opportunity for me to learn how to approach different situations from alternate perspectives.

With recent societal shifts and ideas like the sharing economy do you think power is becoming more visible in the built environment?

Yes, I would agree. Sharing power and platforms is beneficial to all parties. I also think that technology is pivotal to the growing concept of sharing economy, to enable scale and enhance economic impact.

On the topic of addressing power, tell us about a time you stood up and spoke up even when you were scared… I would not class myself as an individual that is scared to say what I believe in. I am always prepared to stand up for what I feel is fair and right. I think this trait of mine is an example of where I use power to my advantage in order to express what others may be too scared to say, or to overcome perceived obstacles in life.

In your workplace, do you take actions to share power, or benefit from others that do? We tend to work collaboratively on most tasks at Mobilia. We have frequent meetings because it is essential to our growth that everyone’s perspective is heard. From there we decide on the best way forward as a team. However, I find that personally, I am inclined to listen more than contribute in areas where I know my colleagues have more foresight than myself.

Some say the role of Architects is changing, how do you experience or envision sharing power with other professions?

I can see a shift across all disciplines in the industry. I feel that we will see more

collaborations amongst professionals so there is a holistic approach on projects. This in turn will produce work that will demonstrate the best of each area without limits, as different power perspectives will be showcased. This collaboration will also result in more cohesiveness in projects from the architecture, to the interior design, furniture selection and branding.

What power do you think community has in shaping the urban and architectural environment?

Collectively, a community has the ability to voice the importance of having the correct avenues (and revenues) dedicated to architecture from the outset of urban planning. Educating the public on why this important is necessary so that there is the support there from the community.

What is the power of mentoring within architecture in WA?

I think that mentoring is critical in WA. We have such a talented pool of architects here in WA, and there is so much to learn from some of our more senior architects that have a different approach and methodology to what is being taught today. Mentoring also helps to clarify and enhance career direction and advancement, and gives both the mentor and mentee an opportunity to reflect on their own practices.

How can architecture empower the end user of a building or space?

I think that our surroundings can shape our behaviour. Considered use

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of architecture and space can foster an environment that promotes the intention of a space.

Can you tell us about a time when your network was the most powerful aspect of a situation – the thing that made something happen?

The audience we draw from Mobilia’s annual charity event, The Design Circus is a great network that can pave the way for education and change. We host this annual event that is focused on educating and stimulating the culture of design. Each year its attendance grows, and other like-minded businesses are keen to be involved and participate.

The intention of the Design Circus was to bring the design community, and design enthusiast together for a common interest. In turn, we have not only raised money for charity, but have found that education in a relaxed format is an excellent way to bind the community, and raise awareness on the necessity of preserving good authentic design.

City of Perth Architect, Craig Smith Architect

What is the most powerful piece of architecture in your experience?

Can you describe a moment with that building/space?

Having no particular favourite you can take your pick from this lot: The Taj Mahal – Splendour; The former Customs Hall in NY – Elegance; Staying in a FLW house – Experience; Foundation Louis Vuitton – Excess; British Museum – Clever & elegant solution; Chartres – Wonder; Parthenon – Serenity (Yes, I know). The War Memorial in Canberra is a powerful building experience, but I am not sure that that makes it good architecture.

How does power affect your work?

Planning in the city can be a frustrating endeavour. Some play the power game, but I choose to skirt around it, so the short answer to the question is “Not much”. I use what I have as judicially as I can and work with those with real power to guide, cajole and influence better

results. Perhaps the best approach is to say what you think without fear or prejudice, to accept if others have better things to say and to allow for the occasional fail or knockback without losing sleep, because that’s the way things are.

With recent societal shifts and ideas like the sharing economy do you think power is becoming more visible in the built environment?

Big business and big projects are more influential than ever. Business is about competition, but the idea that cities are not much more than a casual byproduct of commerce is flawed. It’s a concept that denies the basic human need to seek out others, to gather for entertainment, learning, and to express culture in its many forms. Therein lies the sharing.

On the topic of addressing power, tell us about a time you stood up and spoke up even when you were scared… I’m not prone to getting scared when it comes to issues of power.

If I can hand out a bit of advice instead; as a profession we don’t use the available avenues of power very effectively and leave the door open for people with less knowledge and talent to drift into our space and espouse second rate opinions that we don’t rebut.

In your workplace, do you take actions to share power, or benefit from others that do? Both in my office and at the City I am in charge of architectural issues. Most of

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our work is collaborative, which I think is true across the profession as whole, but at the end of the day the final decision invariably falls to those in charge and that can be the client or an authority, but sometimes it’s the architect.

Some say the role of Architects is changing, how do you experience or envision sharing power with other professions?

There is truth in the statement that the role is changing and it has, more often than not, been for the worse, particularly in certain building types, such as multiple housing. It is a reminder why governments need to solve some issues with carrots and others with a big stick.

On the positive side there are more tech-savvy people in architecture, with a capacity to operate across varied disciplines, than in most professions. The combination of a formal education and these skills should keep the door open to maintaining and improving the power of the profession.

Sharing power with other professions, such as project managers and the like, has had a very chequered history. Those who organise and schedule tend to add to the process, those who think they are designing the building diminish results for clients and end users alike.

What power do you think community has in shaping the urban and architectural environment?

Demand changes, opinions change, and without an ear to the ground it is easy

for architects to get lost. I think that public opinion is more likely to modify the urban environment as a whole, rather than the architectural outcomes. Be involved in public life.

What is the power of mentoring within architecture in WA?

Useful. A few days in someone’s office, the capacity to email or call someone for advice can fundamentally change the life of students and graduates who lack confidence or understanding of how things work in the outside world.

How can architecture empower the end user of a building or space?

It doesn’t happen all the time, but every now and then a client will say, “This building has changed my life.” It’s worth the wait.

Can you tell us about a time when your network was the most powerful aspect of a situation – the thing that made something happen?

I am not sure that I have much of a network. Sometimes younger people just ask the most baffling questions. A group of us took on Brian Burke over the redevelopment of Rottnest in the 1980s and won, because we criticised the plan and not him. There may be a lesson there.

What is the most powerful piece of architecture in your experience?

Can you describe a moment with that building/space?

The most powerful piece of architecture I’ve visited is Jorn Utzon’s Bagsvaerd Church in Copenhagen – I couldn’t pull myself away when I visited. From the outside it resembles a factory building. This is closely followed by Le Corbusier’s Ronchamp, another powerful work.

How does power affect your work?

The power of good space is always alluring. In many countries around the world, space is the new luxury, but it’s squandered in Australia.

With recent societal shifts and ideas like the sharing economy do you think power is becoming more visible in the built environment?

Less and less, I think. I always think of Sir Ernst Gombrich’s book, “The Architecture of Power” and the 4000 year

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old use of neo classism in institutional buildings. Thank goodness this has almost disappeared.

On the topic of addressing power, tell us about a time you stood up and spoke up even when you were scared… One time our firm was commissioned to remodel the interior of the Perth Concert Hall. The Director of the Department of the Arts at the time was heavily left wing and wanted the striking red carpet replaced with grey carpet because grey was more democratic and he saw red as being bourgeois. I refused to follow through on this, but it was scary defying my client.

In your workplace, do you take actions to share power, or benefit from others that do?

Power is of less interest to me these days. It’s about sharing and curiosity and drawing this from all the wonderful people around me.

Some say the role of Architects is changing, how do you experience or envision sharing power with other professions?

Architecture is an artistic pursuit. This will never change and, if it does, society with lose a lot. However, its role as the mother of all arts is a fallacy today and cross-pollination with other disciplines and the sharing of power is vital.

What power do you think community has in shaping the urban and architectural environment?

Quite a lot, but it can go off in the wrong direction if it’s hijacked by popularist causes.

What is the power of mentoring within architecture in WA?

Mentorships between mature practitioners and emerging architects are vital for engendering our sense of value and worth as professionals in the community. A big corporate client once told me that Architecture was the only profession he has come across which gets cheaper every year!

How can architecture empower the end user of a building or space?

Great architecture within educational environments influences young people for the rest of their lives.

Can you tell us about a time when your network was the most powerful aspect of a situation – the thing that made something happen?

Having strong networks with my professional body enabled me to be elected to the IFI, International Federation of Interior Architects and Designers. It gave me a global perspective on my profession which couldn’t be bought. ...

Graduate at Slavin Architects and Co-founder of Studio Sidekick

What is the most powerful piece of architecture in your experience?

Can you describe a moment with that building/space?

Often I'm more interested in the process rather than the result. On recent travels for the Peter Hunt Travel Prize I visited La Borda, a working class neighbourhood in Barcelona that was in need of local services. Having tired of endlessly waiting for local authorities to provide everything from libraries, childcare, laundromats and housing, the residents simply did it themselves. They formed neighbourhood collectives and took over a series of former industrial buildings turning them in to a welcoming and busy neighbourhood. It was inspiring to see what a little creativity and a lot of hard work could achieve.

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How does power affect your work?

The experience of an architectural grad can be challenging. The learning curve between university and practice can be steep. I think a lack of experience can often feel like a lack of power. I'm fortunate to be in a workplace that values the ideas and contributions of its staff, regardless of their level of experience.

With recent societal shifts and ideas like the sharing economy do you think power is becoming more visible in the built environment?

I've come through with a generation of Western Australians that until recently had known growth, only growth. As comfortable as that kind of economic climate is, I don't think it really lends itself to experimenting with the 'new economy'. A by-product of the recent downturn is that, by necessity, we're probably more open to these shifts, and it’s probably easier to find opportunities in the built environment and to explore them. We've seen signs of that in Perth over the past couple of years.

On the topic of addressing power, tell us about a time you stood up and spoke up even when you were scared… Oh, this sounds like a tough job interview question! I'm not really sure if I have an answer for this. I was a mature age student so I stood up and asked lots of questions, but I'm sure that's not what you mean!

In your workplace, do you take actions to share power, or benefit from others that do? The cohort of young architects at my workplace are routinely included in conversations regarding the culture of the office and the direction of our work. We discuss the types of projects we'd like to aim for, competitions we'd like to enter, what aspects of our work we'd like to get more experience in, and community issues we'd like to have a say in. We all go out to lunch each week and a lot of these sorts of discussions extend naturally from that. It has a real impact on the culture of the office.

Some say the role of Architects is changing, how do you experience or envision sharing power with other professions?

I am hardly qualified to talk about practice management, but in the short time I've been out I've seen first-hand that the profession is willing to engage with other sectors on an as-needed basis. But if you're talking about ‘future practice’ as more collaborative and breaking with traditional models, there's certainly been a trend toward an industry that is more interested in making a change and being aware of the social impact of our work. Probably more in the discussion around the profession than in practice yet, but I think that change is coming.

What power do you think community has in shaping the urban and architectural environment?

I'm encouraged by the current interest in co-housing in Perth. Not only do these types of projects add muchneeded diversity to our housing stock, but they are fundamentally driven by the members of the housing group. Through town hall meetings, workshops, discussions and working groups, members are vocal participants in the whole process of procuring and designing their own homes. It's a movement that's been popular in parts of Europe for decades and leads to positive outcomes for those involved. I'm hopeful that we'll have similarly positive outcomes as these types of projects come through in Perth.

What is the power of mentoring within architecture in WA?

Faced with the current economic climate, graduates have fewer opportunities get experience and establish connections across the industry. Mentoring programs that foster these relationships and expose graduates to a range of views across the profession can only lead to a more resilient and job-ready cohort, and a more sustainable profession as a whole. Having talked with others about this, I think there's an appetite within the architectural community for this type of initiative.

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How can architecture empower the end user of a building or space?

It’s no secret that housing affordability and urban sprawl are two key issues facing Australian cities. I think we're well placed to offer alternative solutions for more dignified, affordable and diverse housing. This goes hand in hand with collaborating with developers, local councils and other organisations.

Can you tell us about a time when your network was the most powerful aspect of a situation – the thing that made something happen?

From time to time, with a good friend I organise a co-working collaborative event that we hope provides space for students and recent grads to work on side projects, share ideas, and support each other. It’s pretty modest in scale and aspiration, but we hope that it encourages young architects to engage in something outside of their immediate work and studies.


Director Cox Howlett and Bailey Woodland

What is the most powerful piece of architecture in your experience?

Can you describe a moment with that building/space?

I think all buildings have such a big impact on how we feel, whether through the spaces that are created between them or the spaces that are created within them – that is why we need to consider architecture at every scale. For me, the real power of architecture lies in small unexpected experiences rather than grand gestures.

How does power affect your work?

Education is both a privilege and a powerful tool as architects we all have the power to affect the way our cities and towns are formed and evolve over time. This can be through the smallest project to the biggest idea. The power lies in the capacity to think about how a single person has a better experience because of our efforts.

Kieran and I recently merged our practice, CODA, with Cox Howlett

and Bailey Woodland where we are now directors. It has been interesting and invigorating to work within the leadership of a much larger organisation. Power, or the perception of power, can play a big role in how people react to challenges and coming from a shared position of generosity is the key to unlocking real power in my opinion.

With recent societal shifts and ideas like the sharing economy do you think power is becoming more visible in the built environment?

If we take the suburban context I don’t think it looks like people are very empowered – it looks like a few people have the power and it’s not being used for the common good. If we take the context of the city as a whole – again I’m not sure. I think I would like to see some power being used to make big moves, for example toward big infrastructure projects that will radically shift our reliance on the car and allow people to live in well designed and energised transport hubs. Too much emphasis is being placed on the power of the electoral cycle and needs to be channelled into big moves that will set us up long term.

On the topic of addressing power, tell us about a time you stood up and spoke up even when you were scared… I have a habit of speaking up and standing up, I am pretty much always worried about it but the driver of justice somehow propels me forward and I find myself once again speaking out. Sometimes my foot ends up in my mouth but mostly it is an opportunity to broaden a conversation and work through the issues. In recent years I have

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had the opportunity to be involved in and even chair some committees. This has helped me to hone my skills in listening and managing a diverse range of views. Power comes from the joint effort of many voices – not the loudest voice.

In your workplace, do you take actions to share power, or benefit from others that do?

I always make a big effort to share decision making amongst the studio and empower people to engage in the process. A good idea is a good idea and it really does not have to come from one voice. The real power comes from everyone understanding where we are headed and working together to do that in the best way possible.

After 20 years of running our own business it is so fantastic to be in an environment where the power and the decision making is now shared amongst my fellow directors locally and amongst the group of directors nationally.

Some say the role of Architects is changing, how do you experience or envision sharing power with other professions?

More and more I see the real strength of an architect lying in the fact that we are trained to be problem solvers working across increasingly complex terrain. I don’t see us as having any particular power that should be shared, rather I see our skill in continuing to play a critical role in “blowing open” a brief and expanding the problem before we jump to a conclusion and offer a solution. To do well we rely on our capacity to meaningfully engage not only with the client but also with the range of consultants that form a critical part of the team.

What power do you think community has in shaping the urban and architectural environment?

I think the community can be meaningfully engaged in shaping our towns and cities but sometimes it can be those with time on their hands who have the loudest voice and this may not necessarily represent the diverse views of the community. A few years ago we were involved in a Citizen’s Jury, in the development of the design brief for King’s Square in Fremantle. This process ensured that a cross section of views were integrated into the brief development and the outcome was richer for it.

What is the power of mentoring within architecture in WA?

Mentoring is such a useful tool for the development of a person’s career and it is important that these opportunities continue to develop in WA. Being a good mentor is powerful when the mentor is able to connect directly with the needs of the mentee and not just use it as an opportunity to reflect on their own experience.

In some respects, I feel that “sponsorship” could also be a useful way to think of the potentials of this relationship. Women in their late 20’s and early 30’s in particular often need someone to “have their back” and look for opportunities on their behalf, as well as offering sound advice. This is equally true for men and women considering making a step change in their career.

How can architecture empower the end user of a building or space?

This question makes me think about the empowerment of children in teaching a learning spaces. We have worked on a number of projects now that have been designed to be flexible but also allow for children to participate in the way these spaces are formed and altered. They have been really successful and I hope they will make a lasting impression about the value of good design!

Can you tell us about a time when your network was the most powerful aspect of a situation – the thing that made something happen?

Through my previous role as Chair of the National Committee for Gender Equity I was involved in advocating for a quota to be set for the representation of men and women on the newly formed Board of Directors for the AIA. Initially there was a bit of resistance to the idea as it would, in the first instance, force all external board members to be women until such time as there were more women on National Chapter Council (this has now changed!).

Someone on the committee had the idea of directly reaching out to members who we knew and asking them to reach out to their network in support of the idea of the equity in Board representation. It worked! There was an “overwhelming” number of submissions and the proposal was endorsed at the AGM. I am sure that without this amazing support from our network our struggle would have been much harder! •

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sharing power

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East Pilbara Arts Centre by Officer Woods. Image: Shire of East Pilbara.

east pilbara arts centre: understated

The East Pilbara Arts Centre by Officer Woods Architects won the Sir Zelman Cowen award for Public Architecture in this year’s National Architecture Awards.


Public architecture has the power to express the values of a culture, of a place and of a purpose. It has the power to make or break a community’s togetherness, to bridge societal gaps of access, equity and wealth or to widen those gaps. It has the capacity to express a sense of place and aspiration. Although public architecture is explicitly about everyone, the process of creating it can be extremely personal and deeply invested.

The East Pilbara Arts Centre is a case in point. Designed by architects Officer Woods, it is an exceptional piece of architecture. This is not because of rich detailing, embellished ornament or authoritative posture, but because it is an understated building that respects its users and embraces its purpose as a window to a regional art and culture on equal terms. The centre’s architecture acknowledges its physical context in functional terms without playing games. It reflects the journey of its architects who worked with the Martumili Artists and wider community to learn their storeys and to celebrate their endeavours. It reflects the creativity, dignity and culture of the Martu people.

The architecture embodies innovation in its response to the initiating competition brief, delivering a building three times that anticipated, within budget – and with a functional and ‘low impact’ response to the landscape.

Winner of this year's WA Australian Institute of Architects named award for Public Architecture, the design offered a unique creative solution to enclose the various functions under one large industrial roof. This large area of shade and protection from the weather provided a wide range of opportunities. The gesture pays tribute to the quintessential need for shade in the Australian landscape and does away with enclosing walls where these are not needed.

Following the competition, Officer Woods developed the scheme, which was powerful in its conceptual clarity. Excellent collaboration between disciplines ensured that the design principles were upheld throughout design and construction.

The East Pilbara Arts Centre is now a highly valued destination and public ‘window’ for artists of the East Pilbara to gather, create and exhibit their work to the world. Although the building reads as a simple shelter almost resembling an industrial shed, it is also a sophisticated composition of complementary functions including general exhibition, a gallery of

international standing, workshop and storage spaces. There is also a caretaker residence under the same roof. The gallery, working areas and building as a whole, create an environment that treats its users with dignity and respect. It does this by connecting the natural environment of the outback with an audience that includes international buyers in collectable art.

The centre sits on the edge, linking a working mining town with the harsh surrounding desert landscape. The experience of the building transitions from one pace to the next by subtle shifts in texture, enclosure and connection to the outside. The shifts are not by the introduction of different moves or surface treatments, but by the peeling away of unnecessary layers from the inner controlled gallery space to the outer working areas. “The ‘shed’ provides an engaging texture on a site that links the heart of Newman with its surrounding landscape. In this way, the building is a powerful connector between different groups of people and different parts of the Newman community.”1

Fold up walls provide connectivity to the outdoors and transform its interior public realm into a sun sheltered urban room. It sits comfortably in its setting, where the local community's preference is for living outdoors and remaining in contact with the land. Working with the Architect,

• 1. Chapter Jury Citation (

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East Pilbara Arts Centre by Officer Woods. Image: Robert Frith, Acorn Photo. East Pilbara Arts Centre by Officer Woods. Image: Robert Frith, Acorn Photo.
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East Pilbara Arts Centre by Officer Woods. Image: Shire of East Pilbara. •
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East Pilbara Arts Centre by Officer Woods. Image: Robert Frith, Acorn Photo. East Pilbara Arts Centre by Officer Woods. Image: Shire of East Pilbara.

Alfalfa Landscape conceived the landscape as a continuous carpet of programme across the site, using vegetation, surface treatments and drainage swales as wayfinding and embedding the project firmly in its locality.

As a judge in the Public Architecture category this year, I had the opportunity to spend a day on site with design architect, Trent Woods. My questions about the architecture were almost always answered by deference to someone else involved in the project and nearly always included the work of a particular artist or discussion about how the Martumili Artists that use the centre would work. Even questions about servicing gave poetic answers: the water tank cools the outdoor covered workshop area and the artists would lean on the tank during the hot Newman days to keep cool.

He is more prepared to praise the artists’ stories, personalities, and their relationship with the outside world (some of whom may travel 1,500km to get to the centre) – than to engage in debates about the power and influence that shaped its procurement. The conversations reinforced what is obvious about the building, namely that it is a “powerful demonstration of commitment to social, cultural and creative excellence and inclusion.”2

As a public building, the East Pilbara Arts Centre has empowered the Martu

people. “Art helps to keep the culture of the Martu communities strong. It encourages the telling of stories and the sharing of knowledge across generations. Through the art centre, Martu people make sure Martu voices are heard and Martu people are visible. The sale of Martumili art sustains Martu community, the artists and their stories.”3

Always an important factor in public architecture projects, funding was a key enabler for the East Pilbara Arts Centre. Funding for the facility was provided by BHP Billiton Iron Ore ($4.4million), the Pilbara Development Commission under the Pilbara Cities Initiative through the State Government's Royalties for Regions Program ($3.5 million), Lotterywest ($600,000) and the Shire of East Pilbara ($800,000).

The Community Chest Fund is a Royalties for Regions initiative that invests in projects which assist in attracting investment, increasing jobs, improving quality of life and improving economic and community infrastructure and services in the Pilbara.4

In this case though, the funding value was leveraged by the architect’s design response. It expanded what was thought possible in a traditional response to an expansive facility that also serves for weekend markets and

community gatherings. The architect’s creative resourcefulness has provided a powerful opportunity that will benefit a much wider audience.

The East Pilbara Arts Centre is a fitting response to the call for a ‘world class art gallery on the edge of a desert’. Its aspiration is to be embedded in and owned by its landscape and people. While uniquely local, the work of the Martumili Artists is already world standard in technique, materials and expression.

As an exceptional piece of public architecture, the East Pilbara Arts Centre does not reflect the power of authority, funding, democracy or patronage. It is not about expressing an ideology or power play. Its architecture pays respect to the brilliant and changing colours of the north-west landscape and the 'mining town’ texture of its urban context. Its power, however, is in the respect it pays to the colour, character and culture of the Martu people. •

2. Chapter Jury Citation ( 3. Aboriginal Art Centre Hub ( 4. Pilbara Development Commission (

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the power of process

The biennial local government elections are in full swing in WA. In many local government areas we see considerable nominations for a small number of vacancies, when in previous years nominees have often been elected unopposed. So, what is different this year? Power. Local government does not have the power to create the rules. And for major proposals it does not have the power to determine development applications. So it is interesting that this year we have historically high levels of nominations by residents standing for office.

Making the rules

Development control powers held by the local government are ‘on loan’ from the State Government, because local government is a statutory construct of State Government. A desire to move away from this vulnerability and servitude is at the heart of the push for constitutional recognition of local government. This would provide local government with significantly increased validity.

The tension between local governments and Development Assessment Panels (DAPs) is a recurring theme in electoral material from candidates running in this round of local government elections. DAPs were introduced in 2011, and generally apply to any development application with a value of over $2 million. Conceived during Planning Minister Alannah MacTiernan’s tenure and implemented by Planning Minister John Day, they have enjoyed bi-partisan

support from the two major parties, and survived the recent change of Government.

DAPs were introduced to improve and de-politicise decision making, and ultimately to reduce the number of appeals to the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT). Justice is not cheap, and the SAT is an expensive institution to run. It has low application fees, and is a no-cost jurisdiction. A significant financial burden is left for the State to fund its operation, particularly when the matter for review is not robustly considered with regard to the prevailing planning framework but rather reflects popular reactionary outcomes sought by the local community.

However, it is not just DAPs that have eroded the power of local government. In 2015, the State Government introduced the ‘deemed provisions’ – or correctly, Schedule 2 of the

Planning and Development (Local Planning Schemes) Regulations 2015. The deemed provisions override the Local Planning Scheme of all 139 local governments in Western Australia and enforce consistent measures in dealing with various planning matters. As a result the State Government has final say on all local planning strategies, local planning schemes, planning scheme amendments (such as rezoning), structure plans and activity centre plans. The only ‘planning tool’ that local government has absolute control over are ‘Local Development Plans’ (LDPs). However, LDPs can only be prepared where the Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC) have authorised them, so their use and application by local government is limited.

Setting the vision

Perhaps those nominating for council understand this limited role in the determination of strategies, plans, scheme and applications. They understand the value of negotiation, creating effective relationships that can arrest lost ground in the power dynamics, and work towards sharing power.

I believe our serving elected members of local government are slowly starting to understand that they cannot simply be reactive and respond on an application by application basis. The most effective way for a local government to regain the power over outcomes is to prepare a well-

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considered scheme that clearly identifies a vision, sets limits and defines a future built form. The scheme will need to demonstrate how it meets the requirements of State Government policy, such as the capacity to achieve the identified dwelling targets. If the scheme addresses the planning framework, it is likely to be endorsed by the State without substantial change. Once adopted, the local government can provide greater certainty of outcome, regardless of the actual decision maker —as a DAP or the SAT can only approve a development against the limits set out in the Local Planning Scheme. Despite what may be stated by some elected members, DAPs are not a law unto themselves: they are a guardian of the law.

Design WA: negotiation and good design outcomes

One of the most positive shifts towards improving architectural outcomes has been the increased reliance on Design Review in the Development Assessment process. ‘Design WA’ is a State Government implemented suite of documents including planning policy which will ensure good design is at the centre of all development in Western Australia. These documents remove ‘deemed-to-comply’ measures and will provide greater weight to design in the assessment and determination of development applications. All of a sudden, the resolution of a site and consideration of its context becomes a lot more important. The use of ‘deemedto-comply’ measures under the R-Codes was not a framework that demanded

good design outcomes. I was involved in the preparation of Part 6 of the R-Codes and, as much as we tried, we could not codify good design and appropriate site response into a bunch of tick boxes.

Design Review shifts power from planners to architects in terms of determining the suitability of a building for a site. Historically architects have been generally limited to the applicant’s side and not had a strong voice on the decision maker’s side. The requirement to justify the siting, scale, detailing and materials used on a building is undoubtedly a better way to consider the merits of a proposal. The result is increased uncertainty. Without the tick boxes, negotiation plays a more important role and development is guided by architects on both sides of the process.

The best example of good outcomes through Design Review is the process that has been in place for some years at the City of Perth. The City of Perth acknowledged early on that the R-Codes cannot sufficiently control design and so, by and large, the R-Codes do not apply within the City of Perth. Their process is based strongly on the principle of early and frequent engagement. The best outcomes are achieved when the proponents meet with the City Architect early in the process. This allows genuine opportunity to resolve the most important details of the site. The critical issues vary from site to site; however this will typically involve consideration of the ground floor plan, podium

setbacks, choice of materials, and location of shadows cast over the public realm.

The critical stage of the formal assessment process is presenting the application to the Design Review Panel, which provides strong guidance on the merit of the proposal and makes recommendations on areas of noncompliance (typically setbacks and height), as well as if the proposal should be awarded bonus plot ratio. There is no doubt in my mind that the quality of buildings in the Central Business District has improved since the City shifted from a slavish compliance approach to a design merit approach.

Where next?

So, what does all this mean for the future of development applications? Many local councils are concerned about the implications of moving away from the certainty of the R-Codes into a more uncertain framework under ‘Design WA’. However, if the elected members are focused on setting a vision and articulating this clearly through planning schemes, then the development outcome can be confidently left to the design profession to make recommendations to the decision maker through Design Review Panels.

If this approach is successfully adopted, we will hopefully see more positive campaigning at local government elections, instead of the futile ‘scrap the DAP’ platforms. •

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South Terrace – Supported Accommodation Hostel by spaceagency. Image: Robert Frith, Acorn Photo.

dignity & architecture: south terrace supported accommodation hostel

The new insertion on South Terrace in Fremantle is non-assuming. spaceagency has married elements of contemporary architectural language with that of the familiar limestone architecture to design support accommodation for men at risk of homelessness. The sociologist, Weber stated that power is a balance between those with power and those without involving varying degrees of conflict.1 The dynamics of power are expressed in various ways in this case. Firstly, through the reawakening of the limestone box over its other evolving guises; and the desire to avoid the built object from dominating its established residential context. Secondly, the potential of the environment to engender or support a resident’s sense of worth (or suppress it), as well as an individual’s opportunity for choice, privacy and social engagement in determining his day to day activities. Thirdly architectural processes and outcomes, which may reflect and impact on how we construct people’s lives, are balanced against institutions (such as government departments) and organisations’ beliefs.

A visit to support housing facilities can be challenging. Often the design of such places may appear to reflect that the occupants are people who will have few opportunities to improve their lot. Such settings seem to imply that the service provided is more about

preventing the situation worsening rather than reflecting aspiration and potential improvement. So, what about support accommodation for those at risk of becoming homeless? It is evident that the impact of homelessness is connected to self-esteem, identity and mental wellbeing.2 Therefore, what role can architecture or built works play as an integral part of our society’s fabric? Should it play a role? What are the consequences of adopting a builtform driven program to addressing psychological or socially sensitive environments?

The current Supported Accommodation is a residence for eight men (and their associated staff), which integrates parallel agendas that may shed light on these questions. These include heritage, urban/suburban, legislative, and human dimensions. It also provides insights into embedded power relations that are not necessarily evident to those passing by.

The historic narrative of this building commences with an 1895 limestone hospital, which evolved into a 1928 lodging house, and then into an Italian private house in the1960s. By interrogating the site and through research, it became evident to the architectural team that the original limestone building still remained enabling a strategy whereby the twostorey building was maintained and the

new accommodation wrapped around the original structure. The intention was not to slavishly reproduce the smallscale heritage building but rather to leverage from its scale, character and materiality to generate a strong sense of place in the streetscape and within the interior. The history of the building is partly read through changes in internal brickwork; and the preservation in the new interior of a well and access to an extensive cellar, which had been hand built at the beginning of the building’s history. The addition of a battened timber screen to the two storey verandah spaces references the past occupancy yet provides a 2016 addition to the ongoing narrative.

The King William streetscape offers no pretence that this building is part of the predominant small-scale residential typology. However, by carving up the new two-storey linear building form and its resultant scale, spaceagency has managed to maintain a comfortable juxtaposition. The inclusion of a private courtyard within which an olive tree has been maintained adds to this: collecting olives from this tree and sharing the produce is part of the local community’s history. The simplicity of the materials and restricted colour palette of white brick, galvanised steel, and timber reduces the impact of the accommodation further.

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1. Van Krieken, R., et al (2000) Sociology. Themes and Perspectives. Frenchs Forrest: Pearson Education Australia Johnson, G. & Chamberlain, C. (2011) Are the Homeless Mentally Ill? Australian Journal of Social Issues Vol.46 No.1 AUTUMN 2011 pp29-48

In association with the expected design process spaceagency undertook consultation with the specialist client group to inform provision for counselling and case worker services, a sense of safety and security, and for the special needs of the residents who are risk of being homeless. The brief was to create a group home and not an institution for these men. In addition, the requirement to consider the heritage issues as they arose also opened the dialogue between architect and client groups to explore additional possibilities for supported accommodation over and above standard responses. As a result the final design resolution does challenge more standard outcomes.

Impact on the residents is a critical criterion when gauging success of the accommodation. The ability of the environment to support the overarching philosophy of the client, Uniting Care West, and to assist in improving the quality of life or sense of wellbeing for the men has been addressed by spaceagency in a number of ways.

On the lower floor, the new building includes a large communal kitchen, a dining room and games room that reflect the scale of a home (rather than institution) and each is seamlessly linked with an interconnecting open corridor space as well as addressing the private north-facing courtyard filled with planting and seating areas. The upper level accommodation layout’s open balconies around the U-shaped plan enables each resident to have a private entry to their room and to have more private spaces outside the rooms. They also can look over the facility into the communal areas and to watch what is occurring in the courtyard. The layout and associated sightlines enable choice in the level of social interaction and connectedness. Resident privacy is addressed by the provision of individual bedrooms with an ensuite. Counselling rooms are located in the original building in a semi-public area and controlled access into the whole facility ensures personal security.

People who are homeless are often at risk in relation to mental wellbeing

so attention to cross ventilation, temperature, and noise become important. The balance between privacy and indoor environmental quality has been addressed through orientation, ceiling fans, air conditioning in central areas, glazing, and screening. Although anecdotal, observations by staff indicate that the residents have been impacted by the quality of the new accommodation; ‘they have stepped up’. The men are reported to be willing to interact collectively as well as more informally one-on-one, and have demonstrated teamwork—they ‘chip in’.

This project demonstrates that architecture can be an integral part of our society’s fabric and as a result that its role and its impact need to be considered at a project’s conception. The input of client groups’, users’ and consultants’ specialist knowledge can lead to more sensitive outcomes. spaceagency has brought fresh eyes to an existing ‘problem’ through the creation of a resolution that blends heritage, urban, legislative as well as social and community considerations. •

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South Terrace – Supported Accommodation Hostel by spaceagency. Image: Robert Frith, Acorn Photo. South Terrace – Supported Accommodation Hostel by spaceagency. Image: Robert Frith, Acorn Photo.

renewable power: sustainability and the built environment

Across our State, Western Australians are demanding more power over power, driving irreversible changes throughout our economy.

Households that once passively consumed electricity are now actively producing and controlling energy, challenging traditional centralised industry models. People increasingly expect their Governments to facilitate new energy solutions and incorporate sustainable principles into planning and development processes. The challenge for policy makers is to design frameworks that foster innovation, encourage market growth and maximise benefits for the entire community.

In 2010, 60,000 Perth homes had rooftop solar PV systems. This year, that figure will reach over a quarter of a million – or one in four – WA homes. Average system sizes have also increased, from 2.6kW in 2010 to 5.3kW in 2016, with rooftop PV now the largest single source of generation on Perth’s electricity grid. The energy produced by these systems directly competes with traditionally retailed electricity, signalling a fundamental market shift.

An information and communications technology (ICT) revolution is also underway, facilitating ‘smart’ devices and appliances that can be remotely controlled and integrated into energy systems. Household and utility-scale

battery systems are reducing in price and electric cars are projected to radically alter our automotive industry.

New market players are emerging, promoting these technologies and offering innovative retail models. These developments are all changing our built environment and challenging traditional industry structures.

The changes are in part driven by increasing energy costs. But we should not underestimate the degree to which householders are adopting these innovations because they want to take proactive steps towards a more sustainable energy future.

The electricity industry is based on a ‘top down’ centralised structure: energy is produced by large-scale generators, transmitted through a complex, capital intensive network and then passively consumed at customer premises. Under the emerging ‘bottom up’ paradigm, industry must respond to increasingly complex and highly localised systems,

populated by smaller ‘pro-sumers’, who both produce and consume their own energy.

As the cost of PV and battery systems reduce, we can expect continued installation of solar PV/Battery systems into existing housing stock, new-build homes and commercial buildings, together with ever-increasing numbers of energy efficient and ‘smart’ appliances behind the meter. These will continue to affect both the volume and pattern of electricity consumption.

At the local level, it is now technically possible for new apartment buildings, subdivisions, suburbs and even local governments to install shared electricity production and storage infrastructure, form energy cooperatives and/or operate as micro-grids. It is possible for ‘fringe of grid’ communities to disconnect from the grid altogether, removing expensive poles and wires and replacing them with islanded power systems, for an equivalent utility-grade service.

These changes all place new demands on the electricity network. It is increasingly difficult for network operators to manage energy flows to ensure safe, reliable electricity supply. Moreover, network planning and development is becoming more complex as system dynamics change to a more decentralised model. Technical rules and regulatory frameworks may also operate as a barrier to new technology entry or may

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actively disincentivise efficient asset developments based on ‘non-traditional’ energy solutions.

The challenge for policy makers is to develop system-wide strategies that deliver the greatest value to the community. A number of initiatives are possible, including:

• Energy efficient Building Standards (particularly for state-owned housing stock);

• L and planning and development schemes that incorporate sustainable design principles;

• Community Title to encourage shared ownership of grid-scale batteries and PV installations within local developments;

• Electricity network planning processes and technical rules that accommodate new technologies and enable a variety of energy service solutions;

• Network tariffs that send time of use and locational signals to energy market participants, to encourage efficient asset development and consumption patterns;

• Electricity market structures that recognise existing investments, but also allow companies to offer new services and products (e.g. payment plans for solar PV installations, time of use charges and opportunities to facilitate local trading between households and businesses);

• Programmes to support research and private sector innovation in renewable technologies and ICT; and

• Workforce plans that enable the existing labour force to take up new employment opportunities in the sector and prepare our students for the jobs of the future.

In formulating responses, policy makers must be prepared to consult extensively with industry and the community, to arrive at the most efficient energy system possible.

The electricity network is not going away any time soon. As change inevitably marches on, our electricity system will become increasingly inefficient and costly if the right regulatory and market structures are not introduced. Our whole community should benefit from the move towards a sustainable energy future. We fail our communities if we do not embrace and facilitate change. •

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Geraldton MUFYP by CHRISTOU Design Group. Image: CHRISTOU Design Group.

common ground: geraldton multi-user facility and youth precinct

What stakeholders were involved and what were their aspirations? Where did these differ?

The stakeholders on the project were a diverse collection of groups and organisations from across the Geraldton community and included:

• C ity of Greater Geraldton Elected Members and Executive

• T.S. Morrow Naval Cadets

• G eraldton Districts Offshore Fishing Club

• G eraldton Yacht Club

• G eraldton Angling Club

• G eraldton Marine and Sea Rescue

• L ocal private event and production planning companies

• G eraldton Senior College

• G eraldton youth

• C ity of Greater Geraldton Tourism and Events committees

• Queens Park Theatre Company

Each stakeholder wanted functional efficiency and unencumbered use of the facility as and when they needed access. However, each party also wanted to achieve autonomy and an individual identity within the shared facility, which presented a conflict in a variety of instances.

The most complex requirement was simultaneous use of the building by groups whose responsibilities and uses were diametrically opposed. For example, we needed to find a way for a function bar to be co-located with groups that had strict requirements regarding alcohol, minors and duty of care guidelines.

How did you manage these expectations?

The expectations of each group were discussed openly, in private and in public workshops. Beyond clarifying the requirements and intricacies of simultaneous operation for the design and client teams, the workshops served a myriad of purposes.

Large workshops allowed the stakeholders to find common ground, and lay the foundations for a collective spirit. At the workshops stakeholders discussed ways in which they could alter or manage their own circumstances to assist each other. Solutions were developed for the management of each individual operation, to meet the goals of the collective project.

Workshops also offered the opportunity to manage expectations in the composition of the design. The solution we developed—of separate buildings, with distinct entry and exit points, linked by secure areas, courtyards and a verandah—enabled each group to develop their own operational model that met their requirements.

How was the brief created?

The workshops began with broad and wide-ranging discussions and became more focused as the project began to materialise. Site visits were also undertaken to each stakeholder’s current facility and observations of their operations were used to supplement the discussions and requests being made in the workshops.

During the design phase, how did you bring the stakeholders together and encourage belief in the architectural process to ensure progress in the same direction?

This was a very transparent activity. The critical requirements identified by stakeholders in the brief development phase were re-visited during the design phase. At workshops with the stakeholders we evaluated the design against these pre-agreed criteria, and used this to debate and refine the design as it progressed. This process allowed the stakeholders’ contributions to be meaningful and measured.

The transparency of the dialogue encouraged ownership of the design and a collective sensibility amongst the group. Having seen that their individual needs were being satisfied in the process, everyone was invested in achieving the best overall outcome for the project.

The site is an interesting one. Could you describe how you responded to it?

The site can be read in different and opposing ways, simultaneously a clean slate, and as a collection of conditions, edges and contexts. The design attempts to stitch together these variables through an approach which touches each edge of the site.

Distinct elements of the scheme— building, landscape, play space and topography—connect with the edges and work within the site. Together they

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Geraldton MUFYP by CHRISTOU Design Group. Image: Trasko Industrial Photographics. Geraldton MUFYP by CHRISTOU Design Group. Image: Trasko Industrial Photographics.

create links to the wider context: the foreshore, the old railway station, the esplanade and the boat launch. The dialogue between these design elements create new opportunities for events and activities such as cinemas and markets to be explored over time by the City as the events program evolves.

The location and orientation of the building creates a microclimate to temper the renowned Geraldton wind. The buildings, topographical manipulations and planting all strategically contribute to softening the impact of wind and sun, allowing the space to be enjoyed for a range of events and in a variety of conditions.

What inspired the design, was there an overriding concept or guiding process?

The design was developed as a response to the context, the site and the brief, each working in concert with the others to influence the outcome. As a practice, this is our core philosophy and where all our work begins.

The concept was to create a series of small pavilion buildings, linked by

courtyards and a verandah, which frame key views of the port in the distance from the newly created event space while allowing access to be controlled. The architectural language for the project reflects the industrial heritage of the site and the character of the port buildings, which visually dominate this end of the Geraldton foreshore.

What issues occurred or compromises were made that turned about to be opportunities, and how was this conflict constructively harnessed?

The project scope was expansive and the budget limited. This required an approach which could capture opportunity as it presented itself.

One such opportunity was the requirement for public ablutions to cater for the event space. An existing toilet block was located within the site boundary, originally marked for demolition. However, the building had good bones: brick construction and a crinkly, formed concrete slab roof. The opportunity was taken to preserve an existing structure with its own integrity.

This block was extensively refurbished and this area could be omitted from the programme. This building now forms an anchor for the youth precinct and became a canvas for local graffiti artists to contribute to the precinct in a contained manner.

By catering for multiple users the building is democratic, perhaps you can comment further on how the building shares power with members of the wider community?

The sharing of power in this project results from the democratic briefing and workshopping process that was used to develop collective ownership by the community.

An egalitarian function and purpose of the building developed from the beginning. The critical elements of the project brief were not determined by the architect but by the users. The task of the architect was the composition of spaces and programme, and the arrangement of the site. Our design contribution was to optimise the existing relationships and create opportunities for the public site to evolve through community use. •

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Fremantle Aerial. Image source: Nearmap.

competition power

Architectural competitions are meant to be a way of attracting a wide range of innovative design solutions. Is this your experience in Fremantle?

The City of Fremantle’s first major architectural competition certainly worked for our new civic building in Kings Square.

There were 53 eligible stage 1 entries from all around the world with some wonderful and at times radical ideas that were very stimulating in public debate around this major redevelopment for the centre of Fremantle.

It is worth remembering that the $50 million redevelopment Fremantle civic centre which was the focus of the competition is part of the City of Fremantle and Sirona’s $270m Kings Square Project – the biggest privatepublic partnership in Fremantle’s history.

From these 53 entries a shortlist of three was selected from by an expert independent jury. The shortlisted concepts were from: CODA (Fremantle WA); Kerry Hill Architects (Fremantle WA); and McBride Charles Ryan (Prahran Victoria).

The three architects were then invited to prepare more detailed stage two submissions. I would have been happy to see any one of these three designs

form the basis for our civic centre. The quality and diversity was impressive.

The eventual winner – Kerry Hill Architects – was announced in December 2013 and has now been commissioned to design, document and administer the project through to completion.

The competition was a way of ensuring not only a wide range of innovative design solutions but also that the best possible design was implemented.

Are competitions a fairer way of procuring design services?

This is a very fair process given the process is quite rigorous and gives everyone an equal opportunity. The shortlist of three was selected from by an expert independent jury. As a way of maximising the purity of the selection process, the jury was not advised of the authorship of any submission until after shortlisting was

completed. An independent probity advisor was also present during the evaluation process.

Are competitions a way of giving a project more public exposure and perhaps engaging the public in the design process?

The competition was a way of ensuring the best possible design was implemented: Quality sustainable development is what the Fremantle community has been calling for and this competition, judged by an independent expert panel, has gone a long way to ensuring the development we build today becomes the heritage that future generations can be extremely proud of.

It is was also big successful in bringing our community with us on the whole Kings Square Project which is a very big and complex big project for the City of Fremantle as it maintained a sense of interest and excitement along the long gestation period.

Do competitions leave everyone financially better off?

Probably not but they do lead to better design and better long term outcomes. We were designing a building to last the next 100 years not just the next 20 or 30 as is too common these days. What we got is adaptable, clever and high quality building. •

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Active Bodies, North Perth Community Garden. Image: Tuan Anh Ngo. on a wheel chair playing harvesting digging

in real time: powerful partnerships

Architecture students can make powerful contributions to community projects. Here we talk to Katherine Ashe and Simon Pendal about the generative process of real time and real-world studio projects and the mutual benefits of these for students and communities.

The two examples discussed are an exploratory study of a rural community site in Gilgering, led by Ashe and Pendal in 2017, and studio centered on a proposal for North Perth Community garden, led by Ashe in 2015.

The site in Gilgering, is a former aboriginal campsite, the site of St Peter’s Anglican Church (now deconsecrated), cemetery and school (now demolished). The students consulted with Aboriginal elders, conservation groups, consultants and the Friends of St Peter’s—a distributed community which see this site as central to their family identity. The outcome was a series of speculative proposals for small-scale and landscape works to facilitate meeting, celebrating, mourning, sheltering, cooking, sleeping, rambling, and greening.

The North Perth Community Garden project saw students engage with local stakeholders and allied disciplines such as community groups, researchers, landscape architects, quantity surveyors and industry partners to imagine the possibilities of a new micro public open space. Students navigated the practicalities of getting a project off the ground, including the preparation of briefs, development applications, building permit submissions and cost plans.

1.     Katherine and Simon, you are active in engaging architecture students in real time community projects. What prompted you to initiate these projects and why?

In 2015 Katherine was approached by pro-active community garden members to see whether we might be able to facilitate some kind of university workshop with students. This has led to larger studio-based projects. Because we are practitioners and educators a model has emerged whereby we can assist grass-roots community groups that may not be able to financially access professional services, or who are just not sufficiently prepared to engage an architect. These projects are valuable learning experiences for students. They are an opportunity for students to engage with site and clients. And, often the clients' thinking is expanded by the students’ conceptual endeavor.

2.     The project briefs were underpinned by specific tasks and supporting architectural literature. How did this ‘scaffolding’ enable students to connect with site and place?

We believe that good architectural projects are often born from research on multiple fronts; precedent, carefully chosen texts and seminal works. In

the Gilgering project we referred to Richard Black’s PhD ‘Site Knowledge’. His research outlines a site analysis process which showed the students a way to gain a deeper understanding of the site. This approach fundamentally shaped their projects by enabling a shift in perspective from how we traditionally begin to conceptualise projects (designing straight from the client brief), to instead starting with mappings that allow the less obvious particulars of site and place to emerge.

3.     Real time projects undoubtedly require effective teamwork. Describe the collaborative process involved in bringing these projects to life.  How was power shared within the project team?

These projects require the generosity of all participants. We found that power differentials were flattened out by the knowledge each party brought with them. We worked with an Aboriginal elder, clients and external consultants. Each brought extensive historical, contextual and specialist knowledge. In turn, the students developed interpretations of these readings through their design work. We found that the act of listening and sharing generated a contagious enthusiasm among everyone involved.

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1. Van Krieken, R., et al (2000) Sociology. Themes and Perspectives. Frenchs Forrest: Pearson Education Australia 2. Johnson, G. & Chamberlain, C. (2011) Are the Homeless Mentally Ill? Australian Journal of Social Issues Vol.46 No.1 AUTUMN 2011 pp29-48
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Landscape Plan, Gilgering. Image: Azadeh Najafian. Exterior Render, Gilgering. Image: Azadeh Najafian.

4.     Describe some of the power dynamics that existed in these projects between students, community, government, traditional custodians, heritage bodies, consultants etc. How did the students negotiate these dynamics and what did they learn?

We found that the general enthusiasm and pervading generosity, provided an escape from these adverse dynamics. Everyone contributed knowledge that was respected and added to the sensitivity of student responses. By the end of semester, the students understood that “real life” projects can be both modest in scale and lofty in ambition. In both cases this was reinforced by the client at the final reviews. The feedback was that the project had exceeded their expectations and that as a result of their interactions with the students their thinking about the place and its possibilities had been utterly transformed. In the recent Gilgering project, the client group, were shown things about the site that they had never noticed despite their long connection to the place. Things such as the patterns in the landscape made by clusters of different flowering gums, the beauty of parts of the site they had not habitually visited, flood-lines, geologies, and the possibilities of siting different activities in the landscape.

5.     How did the projects evolve over the course of the semester and what relationships enabled this project to be realised?

Productive relationships were established between the clients and students principally through regular contact both on and off site, and through informal presentations and conversations. In these situations, guidance was offered and information that is normally difficult to garner became accessible such as oral histories, personal recollections, extreme flood events, specialist knowledge (heritage and archaeology) and local land-use and climatic data. In many cases the student’s proposals expanded upon or challenged notions that client brought to the initial briefing sessions. The client’s leap of faith and trust allowed the students to respond with diverse design responses.

6.     Lastly, what was the outcome of these projects and how have they empowered students and communities?

The studios have given the clients a clearer direction and strategy for the activation of these community spaces. This clarity in turn enables them to apply for funding, and seek greater external support. The student drawings, images and models aid these

processes and generate excitement and genuine commitment. The North Perth Community Garden have used Tuan Ngo’s and Rhiannon Carter’s work to garner support for the implementation of the community garden, and the Friends of St Peter’s have used the student ideas to begin to clarify possible programs for the site as they develop a sustainable funding approach for new uses. Students gain a sense of involvement and purpose in real-time projects. The potential for these projects to proceed in the future, the establishment of client relationships, and student exposure to professional networks adds richness to the curriculum. •

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Thanks go to The Friends of St Peter’s in particular Glenyse Broadbent and Emma Voscanos; Philip Narkle – a traditional elder of the Ballardong people and a custodian of the land on which St Peter’s is situated. Other guidance was sought from and thanks go to Ronald Bodycoat, Heritage Architect; Kelly Rippengale, Senior Conservation Architect from the National Trust of Australia (WA); Stuart Rapley, Archeologist; Pip Munckton, Landscape Architect; Steve Bennett, Senior Policy Officer, Outdoor Recreation, Department of Sport and Recreation and Peter Baxendale, Consulting Engineer.
- 88Design Circus 2017 Michael Anastassiades Heath Ledger Theatre; State Theatre Centre of Western Australia 7.30pm Monday 18 December 2017 LIMITED TICKETS AVAILABLE. BUY NOW @mobilia_

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