Tag Archives: Australia

Green building resource guide

Talina Edwards Architecture is a Ballarat-based studio, with a passion for sustainable design, green buildings and healthy homes. We like to help answer your questions, so if you have a query  please let us know!

We’ve recently added a “Resources” page to our website, as we often find that we’re recommending links or websites to people for further information. This information will be a permanent page which will be regularly updated. But we wanted to share the news with you first, that it is now live. If you have any additional resources to add – please let us know!

sustainable green healthy home house architecture building

 

There is so much information out there on green buildings, sustainable living and healthy homes, that it can be overwhelming to know where to start!

We’ve compiled this list of resources to help you, and we’ll continue to update it. Hope you’ll find it useful.

 

 

 

BALLARAT RESOURCES:

Smart Living Centre Ballarat: http://smartlivingballarat.org.au

BREAZE (Ballarat Renewable Energy and Zero Emissions): http://breaze.org.au

Ballarat Permaculture Guild: ballaratpermacultureguild.org/

Ballarat Environment Network: http://ben.org.au

Ballarat Climate Action 2014: http://ballaratclimateaction2014.blogspot.com.au

Ballarat Green Drinks events: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ballarat-Green-Drinks

 

SUSTAINABLE BUILDING/ARCHITECTURE REFERENCE BOOKS:

Your Home” Technical Manual (+free online site): http://www.yourhome.gov.au/index.html

Sustainable House” by Michael Mobbs   http://www.sustainablehouse.com.au

Warm House, Cool House: Inspirational Designs for Low-Energy Housing” (second edition) by Nick Hollo http://www.publish.csiro.au/pid/6869.htm

Grand Designs Australian Handbook” by Peter Maddison https://shop.abc.net.au/products/grand-designs-aust-handbook-pb

Cradle to Cradle” by Michael Braungart and William McDonaugh http://www.cradletocradle.com

Greeniology” by Tanya Ha: http://www.tanyaha.com/greeniology.html

 

MAGAZINES (PRINT & ONLINE):

Green Magazine: http://greenmagazine.com.au/

Sanctuary Magazine: http://www.sanctuarymagazine.org.au/

ReNew Magazine: http://renew.org.au

Owner Builder Magazine: http://www.theownerbuilder.com.au

Pip Permaculture Magazine: https://www.pipmagazine.com.au

 

GREEN BUILDING WEBSITES – INSPIRATION & IDEAS:

Inhabitat, Design Will Save The World: http://inhabitat.com

Ecological Homes: http://www.ecologicalhomes.com.au/

Sustainable Design Forum: http://www.sustainabledesignforum.com/

Sustainable House Tours: www.sustainablehouseday.com (Second weekend of September each year).

Your Future Home: www.yourfuturehome.com.au

Home style Green: (NZ-based podcast about living in a healthy and sustainable environment, with international content) http://homestylegreen.com

 

GENERAL SUSTAINABLE LIVING:

Living Greener: http://www.livinggreener.gov.au

Sustainability Victoria: http://www.sustainability.vic.gov.au

Liveability (Live the way you want, sustainably): http://www.liveability.com.au

“GREEN” Wikipedia http://www.greenlivingpedia.org/Greenlivingpedia

Sustainable Living Festival (Sustainable Living Foundation Australia) http://www.slfestival.org

Sustainable Living Guide: http://sustainablelivingguide.com.au 

One Million Women: http://www.1millionwomen.com.au This is a national campaign to inspire 1 million Australian women to take practical action on climate change by cutting 1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse pollutant causing global warming. Every woman who joins has a personal goal to cut 1 tonne of CO2 from their daily lives within a year of joining the campaign.

 

WATER EFFICIENCY:

Save Water: http://www.savewater.com.au

Rainwater Tank Calculations (free online tool): http://tankulator.ata.org.au

Water Efficient Products: www.waterrating.gov.au

CHOICE (independent publisher of consumer information) www.choice.com.au (Generally considers water efficiency in reports and product/appliance rankings)

Saving Water (Dept of Environment and Primary Industries)  http://www.depi.vic.gov.au/water/saving-water

Central Highlands Water (Building and Renovating, Sewer location): http://www.chw.net.au/business/building-and-renovating

Central Highlands Water (Building over easement): http://www.chw.net.au/development/build-over-easements

For solar hot water info, see “RENEWABLE ENERGY” category below

 

SUSTAINABLE MATERIAL SELECTION:

EcoSpecifier (Certified and verified sustainable products database): www.ecospecifier.org

Good Environmental Choice Australia: http://www.geca.org.au/

Forest Stewardship Council Australia: http://www.fscaustralia.org/

Forest Stewardship Council International: http://www.fsc.org/en/

Good Wood Guide: www.goodwoodguide.org.au

EcoBuy (Sustainable procurement advice and support): www.ecobuy.org.au

Greenlist guide (Moreland City Council):  www.sustainablesteps.com.au/pdf/Moreland Greenlist 050905v2.0.pdf

Window Energy Rating Scheme (Window Efficiency Rankings): www.wers.net

 

APPLIANCES (ENERGY EFFICIENT):

Energy Labelling (Appliances) Energy Rating http://www.energyrating.gov.au/

CHOICE (independent publisher of consumer information) www.choice.com.au (Generally considers energy efficiency in reports and product/appliance rankings)

 

RENEWABLE ENERGY / SOLAR HOT WATER:

Alternative Technology Association: http://www.ata.org.au

Green-Power Government Accredited Renewable Energy http://www.greenpower.gov.au

Office of the Renewable Energy Target (and rebate info for solar electricity and solar hot water) http://www.orer.gov.au/

Solar Hot Water Rebate http://www.sustainability.vic.gov.au/www/html/1378-applying-for-a-solar-hot-water-rebate.asp?intSiteID=4

Solar Hot Water Rebate: www.sustainability.vic.gov.au/www/html/1376-solar-hot-water-rebate.asp

BREAZE Energy Solutions: http://breaze.org.au/about-bes

 

 ONLINE CALCULATORS:

ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT

WWF Australia’s  Ecological Footprint Calculator (for individuals): http://www.wwf.org.au/our_work/people_and_the_environment/human_footprint/footprint_calculator/

Global footprint network calculator: http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/gfn/page/calculators

Carbon neutral carbon calculator: http://www.carbonneutral.com.au/carbon-calculator.html

Centre for Sustainable Economy Ecological Footprint Quiz: http://www.myfootprint.org/

WATER FOOTPRINT

Water footprint calculator: http://www.waterfootprint.org/?page=files/YourWaterFootprint

LED LIGHTING CALCULATOR

LED lighting calculator: http://www.ledlightingcalculator.com.au 

R-VALUE (INSULATION) CALCULATOR

R-Value Calculator http://rvalue.com.au

WATER TANK CALCULATOR

Rainwater Tank Calculations (free online tool): http://tankulator.ata.org.au

 

GREEN ROOFS (LIVING ROOFS):

Growing Green Guide: A guide to green roofs, walls and facades in Melbourne and Victoria (free download) http://www.growinggreenguide.org

 

SUSTAINABLE GARDENING/PERMACULTURE:

Sustainable Gardening Australia: www.sgaonline.org.au

Ballarat Permaculture Guild: http://www.ballaratpermacultureguild.org

Permablitz Ballarat: http://www.permablitz.net/regional-groups/25-permablitz-ballarat-part-of-ballarat-permaculture-guild

Permaculture Australia: http://permacultureaustralia.org.au

Holmgren Design, Permaculture vision and innovation: http://holmgren.com.au

 

SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORT:

PUBLIC TRANSPORT

Public Transport Victoria: http://ptv.vic.gov.au

BICYCLES

Bicycle Network: https://www.bicyclenetwork.com.au

Bicycle Route Maps: http://www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/Home/Moreinfoandservices/Bicycles/BicycleMaps/

CAR-SHARE (Melbourne only at this stage – doesn’t seem to be any in Ballarat yet)

Green Car Share: http://www.greensharecar.com.au

Flexicar: http://www.flexicar.com.au

Goget: http://www.goget.com.au

MORE EFFICIENT CARS

Fuel Efficient Cars: http://www.greenvehicleguide.gov.au/

 

CARBON OFFSET PROGRAMS:

Fifteen Trees (Ballarat-based Tree Planting business): www.fifteentrees.com.au

Greenfleet carbon-offsetting: www.greenfleet.com.au

Climate Friendly carbom-offsetting: www.climatefriendly.com

 

GENERAL ENVIRONMENTAL / CHARITIES / NGO LINKS:

Climate Council: www.climatecouncil.org.au

Climate Action Network Australia: http://www.cana.net.au/

Greenpeace: www.greenpeace.com.au

Australian Conservation Foundation: www.acfonline.org.au

Oxfam Australia: www.oxfam.org.au

Friends Of The Earth: www.foe.org.au

Australian marine conservation society: www.amcs.org.au

Sea Shepherd Australia: http://www.seashepherd.org.au

Amnesty International: www.amnestyinternational.com

Get Up: www.getup.org.au

 

SUSTAINABILITY & KIDS:

Eco cubby: http://www.eco-cubby.com

Green Stuff For Kids”, book by Tanya Ha: http://www.tanyaha.com/green-stuff-for-kids.html

 

USEFUL LINKS FOR YOUR PROJECT:

Climatic Data for your area: www.bom.gov.au/climate/data

DEPI Land Title Register: http://www.land.vic.gov.au

Victoria’s Planning Schemes Online: http://planningschemes.dpcd.vic.gov.au/schemes

Working with your architect” brochure: http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.arbv.vic.gov.au/resource/collection/68DFC359-BAC9-4473-8A61-3AEBA966E77F/Working_With_Your_Architect_Brochure.pdf

 

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We’ll aim to answer more questions about sustainable design, green buildings and healthy homes, also with reference to our local climate (Regional Ballarat area in central Victoria and Melbourne) in future posts. Don’t forget you can sign up to receive our monthly news  (over there on the top right-hand side of this page) so you won’t miss out on our posts!

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A Creative Conversation

Creative Conversation's gorgeous graphics

Creative Conversation’s gorgeous graphics

Recently I was fortunate enough to attend a workshop generously funded by the City of Ballarat for creative businesses. It was held in the award-winning Annexe at The Ballarat Art Gallery, and was presented by Susan Nethercote of “Creative Conversation” Australia. Susan  happens to be a dear friend of mine (and we’re also second-cousins!) so I’ve seen all the love she’s put into this new business, and I must say, it is very impressive! Susan knows what she’s talking about when it comes to running a small business – she has been running successful urban designer clothing label Manque for over 13 years (if you don’t know her label, check it out, as her clothes are awesome – “urban designer clothing for REAL women”). She is passionate about helping others in their creative quests, and is a natural when it comes to speaking to an audience – she’s very authentic and engaging.

Susan keeping it real

Susan keeping it real

The workshop was called “Holistic Business Mapping” and was essentially about creating a business plan, but not in the traditional sense. As the name might suggest, it was really much more about using our intuition to help map out not only the future of our business and how to make a living, but also about creating a life we love. There was so much content crammed into the one-day workshop that I left feeling exhausted, inspired and excited! After attending the Big-Hearted Business conference earlier this year (and my eyes being opened to a different way we can ‘do business’) this was the perfect practical follow-up for me –  a whole day dedicated to thinking about the future of my business/life, and setting actionable goals to get where I want to be.

Creative Conversation Mapping Exercise

My result of the Creative Conversation Mapping Exercise

Susan had thoughtfully made a special folder for each of the 24 attendees, including the four topics that we covered over the day, complete with custom-made dividers, inspiring quotes, notes, blank paper, exercise sheets, and lists of resources/links/further-reading. Susan is a very organised and motivated individual, and she explained her love of lists and folders (YES! Embrace the inner nerd!), so to have this folder to keep all our business-plan info together is a great gift!

Creative Conversation Show-Bag

Creative Conversation Show-Bag

We also all received a little show-bag which included business-cards and flyers of all the attendees on the day. This was such a great idea as we can now all follow, support and encourage each other’s endeavours too. The creative conversation can now continue…

If you’re a creative type and are running a business, you might be interested in signing up for the Creative Conversation newsletter, or following the Facebook page. Then you can be kept in the loop about future workshops and also the coaching services on offer.

Tell me, are you a goal-setter? Do you have big dreams? What drives you and keeps you motivated? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

Talina x

 

5 Recycling Ideas When Building Your Home (reduce/re-use/reclaim/salvage/up-cycle)

National Recycling Week 2013

National Recycling Week 2013

Did you know that it is National Recycling Week this week?! Founded by Planet Ark, it aims to bring awareness to the environmental benefits of recycling. The focus is mainly on kerbside recycling of waste at home/school/work, so I thought I’d give you some ideas beyond those basics and focus on how recycling can be applicable when building or renovating your home (or any building!). As the construction of buildings is one of the highest uses of energy, it makes sense that if we can recycle components, then it prevents waste, and saves energy that would otherwise be spent on creating something new.

Re-use of building materials commonly saves about 95 per cent of embodied energy that would otherwise be wasted.

 

1. Recycle existing houses

Don’t demolish existing houses, clearing the site and then rebuild from scratch! This is such a wasteful activity in terms of an entire building going to landfill, and then a whole new house being built. If possible, it is always more sustainable to renovate – rearrange/alter/upgrade/add-on/improve/retro-fit the existing house. There are plenty of ways to economically and sustainably do this, without bringing in the wrecking-ball. If some demolition is required, find a demolition-contractor who will de-construct the building and salvage the existing materials so they can be recycled. If the house is pulled apart piece by piece (rather than being reduced to a massive pile of rubble) then many elements can be re-used (either by you, or sold to others). Typically you should be able to salvage roofing materials, framing timbers, flooring, doors and windows, cabinetry, light fittings, and plumbing fixtures.  See here for further information about Building Material Waste and what can be recycled.

 

2. Choose Recycled Construction Materials

If building or renovating, there are many options today for selecting recycled building materials, or those with recycled content. I.e. Recycled/Salvaged Timber, Concrete with recycled aggregate, Recycled Rubber Flooring, Recycled Bricks, to name just a few. The Junk Map site is a great directory for finding recycled building materials (and  furniture and homewares) in Australia, or try Recycle Build Australia an online trade site. Choosing recycled materials doesn’t mean you have to go the extreme of building an ‘earthship’ with your own hands with walls constructed of tyres and bottles (however some of the results can be amazing!).

3. Choose Construction Materials than can be Recycled

Think about the life-cycle of your building and how durable it is – how long will it last? Can the building’s components be recycled at the end of their life? As mentioned in my first point above, when a building can be ‘dismantled’ rather than ‘demolished’ it is much easier to recycle the parts. For example, think about construction methods were components are screwed together rather than glued. i.e. Carpet tiles that can be removed (and recycled at the end of their life) and replaced easily, instead of the whole carpet being pulled up and sent to the tip. Many timbers are excellent at being recycled – particularly if nailed/screw-fixed. Although metals like aluminium and steel are very high in embodied energy (the energy required to make the product), they are also highly recyclable.

Recycled timber doesn't have to look rustic

Recycled timber doesn’t have to look rustic

 4. Consider Recycled Cabinetry/Doors/Windows/Handles

If you can give a new lease on life to something that would’ve otherwise ended up as landfill, then why wouldn’t you?! It is getting much easier to source items these days thanks to ebay, gumtree, local buy/swap/sell sites, trading post online, local salvage yards and of course markets/garage sales etc. Reclaimed kitchen cabinets can have loads of character, and may just require a new benchtop and a coat of paint. Salvaged timber-windows may require new glass (consider double-glazing) but can look fantastic once restored.

Extreme use of recycled windows!

Extreme use of recycled windows!

5. Upcycled Furniture

If you’ve ever spent some time browsing through Pinterest you’re sure to have seen some fabulous ideas for ways clever DIY types are “up-cycling” old palettes/ladders/cots etc. This goes beyond just recycling the second-hand item and re-using it; “upclycing” is all about improving someone else’s pre-loved trash and turning it into a whole new piece of treasure. Or check out Recycled Interiors blog for some ideas.

 

Not all of these ideas will appeal to everyone, but they are all worth considering when building or renovating your home. Each time we re-use and recycle things, it all helps the health of our planet.

Are you a recycler? What’s your favourite recycled/up-cycled item in your home? I’d love to hear your comments below!

If you want to learn more about all things design, architecture, sustainability and healthy homes, please sign up to follow my blog by email (top right hand corner of this page).

Talina x

 

5 Ways To Celebrate World Architecture Day!

Ok, so it’s not a public holiday, and you’re not an Architect, but there’s still plenty of ways YOU can celebrate World Architecture Day TODAY! In fact you have all week to celebrate, so here’s five ideas for you, to get you more excited about Architecture!

1. WATCH: An episode of Grand Designs

If you’ve never seen one, now is the time! Or perhaps revisit an old favourite episode. I love that “Grand Designs” showcases such diverse projects, and that there is a big emphasis on the JOURNEY of architecture/construction and the process involved, not just the staged “hero-shots” that end up in glossy magazines. You can probably find a copy of one of the many series on DVD at your local library (either the UK version, or the more recent Australian series).

2. DO: Photograph some local architecture

If you’ve ever been travelling, I’m sure you’ve taken photos of iconic buildings. What about in your city, or your neighbourhood? Why not get out there and have a closer LOOK at the buildings around you. Do you have a favourite? Maybe there’s a heritage building that is really elegant, or something more contemporary with an interesting form. Here in Ballarat, we are spoilt for choice with heritage Architecture, so grab your camera and get out there…you might discover something you’ve never noticed before!

Rich Architectural Heritage in the City of Ballarat

Rich Architectural Heritage in the City of Ballarat

Heritage school-building here in Ballarat

Heritage school-building here in Ballarat

3. LISTEN: To “The Architects” on 3RRR Radio

“The Architects” is  broadcast every Tuesday night on Melbourne community radio station 3RRR. You can tune in at 102.7FM (if in Melbourne or surrounds) or you can stream online. There are also hundreds of previous shows that you can listen to online, or download the podcasts. Choose from an interview with an Architect, to a discussion about a hot topic, or a review of a building, plus much more.

4. THINK: About your favourite space

I don’t mean your favourite building, which is often more about the external appearance… I mean close your eyes and think about a space (perhaps indoor or outdoor) that makes you feel happy. It could be at work, or your bedroom, or a sunroom, a bar, or a garden… Why do you like this space? Is it light and airy? Does it have views? Can you see trees or sky? What colour is the space? What textures/materials are there? How does it make you FEEL being in this space? Calm, happy, relaxed, excited? You probably just intuitively know you feel comfortable in this space, without having ever analysed WHY.

Gorgeous space - warm, inviting, rich textures, subtle lighting, comfortable (Mitchell Harris Wine Bar)

Gorgeous space – warm, inviting, rich textures, subtle lighting, comfortable (Mitchell Harris Wine Bar)

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I love views to trees out a window!

5. SHOW GRATITUDE: Hug an Architect

We all need a bit of appreciation, so instead of “World Architecture Day”, let’s change it to “Hug an Architect” day! (I’m all for tree-hugging, but building-hugging doesn’t appeal quite as much…) Don’t know any architects to hug? Then give me a ‘virtual-hug’ by responding in the comments below and tell me what Architecture means to you! Aw, thanks – I can feel the love already!

…more ideas…

If you’re still looking for more ideas on how to immerse yourself in all things Architecture, why don’t you read some Architectural blogs (try Life of an Architect) or grab a local sustainable design magazine to flick through (my faves are Green and Sanctuary) or hunt down a documentary on famous architects (see The Architecture of Edmond and Corrigan on YouTube or this list of documentaries) or get out a pencil and a notepad and sketch a building, or look at the Australian Institute of Architect’s website, or check out some inspiring Architectural images on Pinterest or head along to an Architectural talk (try Process in Melbourne at Loop Bar TONIGHT at 6:30) or check out these inspiring TED talks on Architecture or sign-up to receive updates for Melbourne’s Open House for 2014 or take a Heritage Walking Tour through the city of Ballarat or get yourself a copy of the literary classic The Fountainhead to read (based loosely on the life of Frank Lloyd Wright) or watch an old movie that features a fictional architect or ….  that should keep up the Architecture Appreciation for a whole year!

Talina x

P.S. Want to be kept up to date with my posts? Don’t forget to add your email address (top right hand corner there) to my mailing list.

Transform: Altering the Future of Architecture

TRANSFORM-INK-dot

I attended an enlightening event last week, which for me was a great follow-up to the Big-Hearted Business conference I attended earlier this year. “Transform” was industry-specific for me, about Women and Architecture. It was very empowering to be in the company of so many amazing women in my profession. The day was organized by the team behind Parlour, a website that was set up a year ago for discussions about women, equity and architecture.

“PARLOUR: a space to speak – bringing together research, informed opinion and resources; generating debate and discussion; expanding the spaces for women in Australian architecture.”

parlour6

Parlour have recently undertaken surveys of Architect to find out ‘Where do all the women go?”, “And What about the Men?”.  The full results are due to be published in coming months. The facts are that at University, the male/female student ratio 50%. Once in practice, the number of female Registered Architects drops to just 20%, although it has been noted there are many women who are working in different areas of architecture (as graduate architects/in research/academics/interiors/planning etc.). Only 2% of directors of Architectural Practices are female (including sole practitioners). There are complex reasons – it’s not just about having children – and the Parlour team wants to find out why this is.

The brochure for “Transform” asked a big question, “If architecture was more inclusive would it also be in a stronger position?” After the introduction and welcome by Naomi Stead and Shelley Penn, the day was broken into five sessions, each tackling a different question on the topic with panels to discuss, and audience participation.

1. Advocacy, activism and the futures of architecture.

Keynote by Lori Brown, followed by a short discussion with Shelley Penn and Ben Hewett. Chaired by Justine Clark.

New Yorker Lori Brown made a presentation based on her recent book “Feminist Practices”. It was disheartening that there are the same issues of inequity regarding women in architecture in the States, but very encouraging that she is involved in similar groups to Parlour to help make a difference.  She talked about privilege (which is invisible to those who have it), and asked us to question our own, and to look ‘beyond patronage’. She made it clear that “feminism” means social justice for all, and diversity in society, not a women-centered approach. She shared my view that architecture should not just be about ‘form-making’ but that it should be much more diverse and encompass economical, political, social and environmental considerations. Architectural practice as a male-dominated profession where the individual serious ‘starchitect’ lives and breathes Architecture 24/7 is in need of a change. Shelley noted that there are many women (and men) working in alternate modes of practice, but it just isn’t as evident. Ben commented that architects generally are creative, deep-thinkers and perhaps we need the traditional  ‘internal conversation’ about design to become a more external, community-based discussion that involves collaboration and exchange of ideas. Whilst there are some architects working in this way, there needs to be a shift in the architecture culture so that this alternative approach is valued.

2. Do architectural workplace cultures need to change?

A panel discussion chaired by Sandra Kaji-O’Grady with Misty Waters, Bill Dowzer, Lee Hillam, Ann Lau and Gill Matthewson.

The panel discussed their varied experiences of their workplaces that stepped outside the more traditional model. They included practices that embraced paid parental leave, flexible hours, part-time positions, and a family friendly workplace for both women and men. In all instances they noted that there are benefits to everyone: staff were more efficient with their time, there was more trust between employers and employees, there was no burn-out or resentment, there was no loss of highly skilled staff, and everyone had a better work-life balance. I’d been very fortunate during my past employment with Henry Architects that the majority of staff was on flexible hours, as many of us had young families. It was easy to forget that this was not the ‘normal’ workplace situation for architectural offices, although it ought to be.

3. Can policy drive professional and disciplinary change?

An interactive workshop session led by Naomi Stead and Amanda Roan seeking feedback on a draft suite of guidelines and fact sheets aimed at promoting equity and diversity in the profession. Aimed both at employers and employees, the Parlour good practice guides will set out rights and responsibilities, hints and tips, on a range of issues including pay equity, flexible work patterns, meaningful part-time work, avoiding a long-hours culture, negotiating working conditions, and others. 

Our workshop session tackled issues of lack of mentors/role-models, and under-representation of women in institutions that govern architecture and in the public culture of architecture. It was evident that all of us felt the need for more mentors and role-models for women in the profession. We valued the importance of discussions with like-minds and having connections with peers, particularly out of the formal workplace (especially for sole practitioners or small practices). There need to be more opportunities for women in the profession to be in some of these more high-profiled positions and more publicised, and maybe we just need to be brave and put ourselves out there a bit more too. Shelley Penn is an excellent example of the type of leaders we need more of in our profession.

4. What are the possible futures of architecture?

We invent new ways of practicing out of the current moment. In recent years architecture has faced the crisis of global financial restructuring and an accompanying revolt about the narrow limits of architecture’s interests and skills.  This panel explores the value of new knowledge, interdisciplinary work and diverse career pathways, expanding the public discussion about what architects do. A panel discussion chaired by Karen Burns with Esther Charlesworth, Sibling, Paula McCarthy and Rory Hyde.

It was interesting to hear the diverse ways these Architects are practicing of the ‘edges’ of traditional architecture. Esther Charlesworth runs the humanitarian practice “Architects Without Frontiers” which facilitates projects by connecting architects with marginalized communities with a commercial sponsor. Sibling are a young multi-disciplinary collective with a social agenda. Paula McCarthy found herself doing a detour from traditional architecture to becoming a specialist in strategic spatial briefing, as her interest and skills leaned more toward research, exploration of different ideas, and effective communication with client groups. Rory Hyde’s recent book “Future Practice” was based on a series of interviews with many architects who have taken diverse paths. He maintains that as architects we need to embrace economy, ecology, strategy, media, large-scale and long-term. He also mentioned the interesting notion of undertaking ‘unsolicited’ projects, by truly engaging with the soul of the city and trying to fix it problems by presenting a solution, even if one hasn’t been asked for. Architects are problem-solvers and if we can help society at an urban scale, perhaps we should be leading the way with this type of activism.

5. What is an architectural career?

How do we navigate career turning points and moments of transition? How can we strategise our careers while also responding effectively to surprises and contingencies that arise along the way? A panel discussion chaired by Julie Willis with Emma Williamson, Sara StaceKathrin Aste, Felicity StewartVirginia San Fratello and Elizabeth Watson Brown and Shelley Penn.

This group of women discussed their individual career paths and how they juggled family with their profession. It was wonderful to hear the wisdom of Elizabeth Watson Brown and how she feels empowerment through the practice of making architecture, and letting the work speak for itself. Shelley Penn divulged that it took her years to realise with confidence that not only could she affirm “I can do it” but “I can do it MY WAY”. She had a light-bulb moment during a random encounter when she was advised to “take your work seriously, but don’t take yourself seriously”, and also to “test the alternatives” with regards to a career change.  She had lost faith at the time that her vocation was improving people’s lives, and wished to do something more big-hearted, how could she make a difference at a larger scale? That is when she became Government Architect in a more Urban Design role. She also recently said that since having children, she’s learnt that “life isn’t about architecture, but architecture is about life”.

A final panel wrapped up the days discussions. , Naomi Stead said she was excited that we’d seen that architecture could be young and fresh and new again, and that there was hope for the future. She summarised quite aptly that “necessity is the mother of invention” with the emergence of all these different ways that the traditional notion of architecture is being transformed.

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Talina x

What are your thoughts on women in Architecture, and the future of the profession?