NSW/ACT Update 2020
The NSW/ACT branch takes us through the highlights of the year, with a busy online webinar calendar, continuing advocacy around the Design and Building Practitioners regulations, some anticipated Committee changes and plans for 2021.
It has certainly been a challenging year for most members. Despite the adversity we faced, we feel that the ACA – NSW/ACT as well as the national ACA came through with minimal setbacks. Several functions had to be cancelled and we were quick to change our committee meetings to Zoom. Seminars quickly became webinars, and these actually reached a wider audience than our usual face to face events. The first one of these webinars, Linkedin for Architects, reached literally hundreds of architects. Several more online events followed, most notably a very informative webinar with the newly appointed NSW Building Commissioner, David Chandler, who discussed the new Design and Building Practitioners Regulations.
Our president Agi Sterling, together with other stakeholders, has attended several roundtable discussions led by Gavin Melvin, chief of staff to Kevin Anderson, Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation and Harriet Platt-Hepworth from the minister’s office. The new Design and Building Practitioners regulations will require all design documents to be store electronically. For this it was important to find out what are the digital capabilities of architectural firms involved in class 2 building designs. The survey was run by the University of Western Sydney and we were instrumental in getting the survey out to as many architects as possible.
Our executive officer Marie Frost, vice president Michael Lewarne and Agi Sterling visited Canberra in July and again in December, to keep in touch with ACT members. The December visit was an end of the year celebration with dinner and drinks. A good time was had by all. Even though the ACT membership is small, it is a dynamic, interesting group. One of our ACT members is Light House Architecture & Science, who won the 2020 National Emerging Architect Prize.
With Michael Lewarne as facilitator, we have started the NSW/ACT arm of the Architects Mental Wellbeing Forum (AMWF). At this stage, the meetings are held monthly, usually starting with group meditation followed by discussion. The expected outcome of these meetings is that a problem shared is a problem halved, and members should feel and know that support is available for them.
Our membership has increased by 15% despite the difficulties our members faced with lockdowns and restrictions. The new members as well as existing members saw the benefits of the ACA membership.
What will the New Year look like for us? We welcome Fabrizio Siqueira from Siqueira architects, Ivana Simkovits from dwp and Jennifer Crawford from Our New Home Coach to our committee.
Fabrizio was two years on the ARB committee representing architects. Each new member is bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience, and we are very excited to welcome them. Michael Lewarne is retiring from his position as vice president and will change his status as an associate member and observer on the committee. Ivana will take up the position of vice president, Harry Hamor will retain his position as treasurer, Gregg Isaacs will remain as secretary, and all other positions will be allocated first thing in the New Year.
Plans for next year
As Agi Sterling keeps reiterating, she is keen to build an ACA community via as many face to face events as possible, COVID permitting. To start the year, we are planning a cocktail party in the first week of February for all members.
Many of the webinars/seminars planned for the year will be dealing with our new reality.
- Tips for working from home
- How to mentor recent graduates
- What technology platforms work best for collaboration
- How to market one’s company
- How to build your network
- And the very first webinar to be by Jenny Edwards from award-winning Light House Architecture & Science
We are also planning to survey members on what would they like to hear about.
In November we met with representatives of the University of Western Sydney School of Architecture. We are about to enter into a relationship with the university helping them in formatting the Business of Architecture course, and have offered the university one prize for an undergraduate and one for the masters graduate, both excelling in the subject of the business of architecture.
The architectural course at UWS is similar to how the UTS architecture course was structured, giving students the opportunity to spend a couple of days each week working, preferably on site. Currently there is a lot of building work in the Western Sydney area. Harry Hamor has two projects nearby and has offered some positions to the students. This project will be ongoing in the New Year.
We are looking forward to an exciting New Year and are grateful that this year with all adversities was a successful one.