Western Australia Update 2020

6 December 2020

Our WA branch offers an overview of 2020, a glimpse of upcoming advocacy and activity in 2021, and some reflections from our retiring WA President Malcolm Jones and Committee stalwart, Leigh Robinson.

The WA branch has celebrated the end of 2020 with drinks on the rooftop of The Alex Hotel. We are grateful to be able to join together and reflect on the year and look forward with collective optimism to 2021!

The event was attended by a broad selection of our membership, our valued sponsors, and various contributors to the built environment in Western Australia. We were particularly pleased to welcome Rebecca Moore, WA’s newly appointment Government Architect and Barbara Gdowski, Manager State Design Review Panel.

We were also delighted to be joined by Sophie Bottcher and John Ducey, who are the recipients of our inaugural ACA Registration Prize. The WA Branch initiated this prize as a way of promoting the importance of the business side of practice amongst a younger cohort, while also acknowledging the importance of the registration process. A prize of $1000 will be given to two professionals who excel in Part 2 of the Architectural Practice Exam (APE). Congratulations to Sophie and John!

An Evolving Committee

Our Committee will look slightly different when we meet again next year. After two years at the helm, our State President Malcolm Jones has decided to retire from the role. Malcolm has overseen continuing growth in our membership and a push towards improving our visibility amongst government and decision makers related to the built environment.

I have been involved on the ACA WA Committee and the National Executive Council for approximately seven years now and I feel that the time has come to handover to the younger (and I am sure much more able) members of the WA Committee! I have enjoyed enormously my time on the WA Committee and the NEC, and the collegiate interaction with you all that has resulted from that time.

The ACA has grown enormously since I first joined, in both size and the professional manner in which the organisation is run and undertakes its many roles. I believe the most significant progression has been the appointment of a CEO. Although this role is currently part time, it has enabled the NEC to concentrate on the strategic goals of the ACA while leaving the coordination of advice to members and integrating the work of each branch to the CEO.

I hope that the voice of the ACA is fully recognised by both Government and the Regulatory Authorities that impact on the profession in Australia. I wish you all the best.

We are pleased to announce that our new President-Elect is Kukame McPierzie, Studio Manager at Woods Bagot. Kukame has been a member of the committee for two years and is well-equipped for the role. Malcolm will remain on the committee for the first six months of next year to ensure a smooth transition. We will share an insight into Kukame’s vision for the role in our next newsletter.

Committee stalwart, Leigh Robinson has also decided to step aside. Leigh is a Director at TRCB Architects and has made a huge contribution to the committee, particularly in strengthening links between ourselves and the Architects Board of Western Australia. We will miss his style and wit at meetings! Here’s Leigh’s reflection on his years with the ACA:

I was encouraged to join the ACA WA Executive towards the end of 2014, by the then WA President, Richard Young. Over the past six years, the ACA has continued to increase its profile in WA and to show an increase in practice membership. The WA Executive has seen a gradual change in membership, as is expected with Boards of this nature, and the current executive now has a good gender equality mix, and some new blood, to ensure it remains a relevant and strong industry body for our profession in WA.

The ACA has continued to evolve, to ensure that it provides the relevant information for architects and architectural practices to allow them to operate successfully. This was particularly noticeable during this year’s world health crisis. The ACA was the key source of up-to-date information for Australian architects, in how practices could and were responding to the demands of operating in the new world of working from home, government assistance packages and how businesses could ensure they were creating safe workplaces for their employees. The information provided was concise, factual and relevant, and an excellent resource for member practices, when trying to decipher the large volume of information being received especially in those first crazy few months of the pandemic.

The ACA’s website is a fantastic resource for our members, and this should continue to be marketed strongly going forward, in parallel with the continued advocacy to the various industry bodies and government, to ensure the architect’s voice is being heard loudly on the issues that matter to us all. As always seems to be the case, our profession has its challenges, whether it be on fee levels or our position in the construction process with the new methods of project procurement. The ACA is well placed to represent architects and to fight the fight on behalf of all of us who remain passionate about the importance of our role in ensuring a high quality built environment.

I wish all involved in the ACA all the best for the future, and thank all my fellow ACA Executive members for putting up with me over the past six years.

Focus Areas for 2021

In 2021, we will continue to build our role as advocates for the architectural profession in Western Australia.

We are currently developing a plan to engage members and others related to our profession with the draft Medium Density Code (R30 – R60) for single houses, grouped and multiple dwellings that was recently released for comment by the WA State Government. In a statement accompanying the policy, the government called for leadership to lift the standard of medium density developments in WA. Challenging traditional thinking in the built environment requires the expertise and knowledge of the architectural profession (in addition to the design skills required to deliver better housing) and the ACA is advocating for the role of architecture businesses as leaders in both the debate, and the emerging market for high quality medium density in WA.

The Medium Density Code will directly impact many of our member practices in WA and the feedback will be critical in shaping the policy to ensure better economic outcomes for the profession, in addition to better design outcomes for the community. Our branch is working to foster the engagement of our members as a critical component of providing feedback to the State Government on the Medium Density Code during the consultation stage, and beyond. Stay tuned for more updates!

Thank you to our Sponsors for 2021. We are delighted to continue our partnerships with RONDO and Armstrong Ceilings, and welcome UNIOS and Bluechip to the group. We could not do the work that we do without you.

Lastly, we would like to thank our WA members for your ongoing support of our organisation and engagement with our activities. The year 2020 has demonstrated the importance of maintaining a supportive professional network and we hope that we have been of service to you during this challenging year. We are always willing to hear from our membership about the issues related to the business of architecture that matter to you most.