26 August 2019
It’s fair to say it’s been a hectic overture of events for the first half of the year from the Architecture Awards to FAD 2019. Most of these events have been celebratory, inward looking, mostly social and promoting our collective.
It’s time to change the mode a little.
Outside of our bubble and following on from FAD 2019 and the focus on home, having resolved to join the conversation in contributing to the strategy and vision for housing, there are some serious issues affecting our society which I believe we are well-positioned to assist. Unfortunately, we are still seen as working in the privileged architectural world.
A few weeks ago, Homelessness Week tackled awareness of this social plight. Across Australia, homelessness, whether through affordability or social misfortune, has grown by 14% in the past five years. So while we keep talking, attending forums, another review, another report, another strategic plan, as a collective have we lost sight of the real urgency.
While I don’t pretend that I understand or have the social panacea for this, far from it, there are many brilliant and humble people who provide this service, I would like to think that we can add a very small contribution to assist in this, the basic provision of shelter.
The current South Australia Housing, Homelessness and Support Strategy taskforce instigated by the Government contains not one member from an architectural background.
Is this an oversight or acknowledgment that architects are not considered to be able to contribute to the strategy of this social issue? It is an indictment of where we stand as a profession that we are not recognised to be able to assist in the delivery of innovative models in a whole of State review.
We have seen in other parts of the world the value of design contributing to the provision of affordable and emergency housing invariably starting from a social value. As usual, we seem to be starting with an economic rather than a cultural value system.
Many have put forward ideas from adapting empty buildings, relaxing some of the guideline expectations in size and acknowledging differing requirements for the notion of the temporary and transitional which are not hindered by design guidelines as a way forward.
Many from our profession globally have significantly contributed and devoted their time as a philanthropic voice to the issues affecting some real issues that affect society. Rather than facilitating talkfests and forums and volumes of reports perhaps as a collective we may be able to instigate some practical solutions that look beyond bureaucratic screens.
We have begun advocating for a voice in the process and would welcome support for a response or contribution across all aspects of the design and construction process having regard to how we may contribute.
SA Chapter President