Parlour http://archiparlour.org women, equity, architecture. Tue, 16 Aug 2016 09:13:09 +0000 en-AU hourly 1 Be a Good Fellow! http://archiparlour.org/be-a-good-fellow/ http://archiparlour.org/be-a-good-fellow/#comments Tue, 16 Aug 2016 09:12:52 +0000 http://archiparlour.org/?p=13739 The only way to redress the serious imbalance among the Institute Fellowship is for eligible women to put their hand up. Vanessa Bird outlines the latest gender equity initiatives of the Institute and calls for women to self-nominate.

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The only way to redress the serious imbalance among the Institute Fellowship is for eligible women to put their hand up. Vanessa Bird outlines the latest gender equity initiatives of the Institute and calls for women to self-nominate.

 

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You don’t have to be a Bloke to be a Fellow.

In academia, a fellow is a member of a group of learned people who work together as peers in the pursuit of mutual knowledge or practice.

The Australian Institute of Architects has significantly fewer women Fellows and Life Fellows. Indeed, less than 10% of Fellows are women. We were made acutely aware of the imbalance thanks to Dr Gill Matthewson’s research, undertaken as part of her PhD ‘Dimensions of Gender’ at the University of Queensland. The Institute is actively working to increase its representation of women across all areas, and increasing the number of women Fellows is an important imbalance that is also relatively easy to correct.

At a recent Victorian Chapter Honours Committee meeting, many women members were identified as eligible for elevation to Fellow of the Institute. The Honours Committee identifies members for Civil Honours, Gold Medal nominations, Honorary membership, Life Fellows and Fellows. With a focus on feeding the pipeline, the committee has identified and written to a group of eligible Victorian women members to nominate as Fellows.

If you receive one such letter, please nominate yourself! Rest assured, the men do. Some of you will have received a similar letter up to four times. This time please take the time to reply as part of a group push.

To be eligible, you need to have 12 years of corporate membership and have made a significant contribution to the profession. Nominations then go to Chapter Council for ratification. The council looks at the body of work and a contribution to architecture beyond paid work, for example: sitting on awards juries or committees, mentoring, giving talks, working with not-for-profits, engagement with the universities or in your community. Life Fellows are approved by National Council.

Since announcing its Gender Equity Policy in 2013, the Institute has also actively sought to correct the under-representation of women in senior positions within its own organisation. The commitment is real. The Institute’s ‘top down’ approach to gender balance has seen the appointment this year of new CEO, Jennifer Cunich, and in the change of its constitution to mandate a minimum of three women members on a new smaller board of directors, after accepting counsel from its National Committee for Gender Equity. Currently National Council has five women members – Sue Dugdale, Helen Lochhead, Clare Cousins, Ksenia Totoeva and myself.

The Victorian Chapter Council has gender balance plus one in favour of women. It has balance on all Chapter committees, and is working to achieve gender equity on awards juries (there are three people on each jury). For some years Victorian Chapter Manager, Alison Cleary, has promoted changes to committees and juries with past presidents Peter Malatt and Jon Clements. Shaun Carter, NSW President, told me recently that the Champions of Change meeting at Cox Architecture with MCC CEO Elizabeth Broderick was possibly his most important meeting of the year. He says this is the most significant initiative of his Presidency, and in terms of real change for the profession, perhaps of the last decade. He stresses that the process needs to continue for some time before we can achieve true gender equity in the profession. Despite this progess, women remain under-represented in situations that call for self-nomination and this results in women being under-represented as both Fellows and Life Fellows.

So, please nominate yourself as a Fellow. We will then have more women to call on as Life Fellows and Senior Councillors. Next year the Institute will directly invite Fellows to be mentors in the 2017 Constructive Mentoring Program, sponsored by AWS, and more women are needed on this list. The mentees in the program are exclusively women.

The Department of Planning is requesting a list of women architects to be included on government boards, and we will be providing our list of women Fellows and Life Fellows as a way to identify qualified women to take on these roles.

We are all aware of the negative impacts of a lack of qualifications for women. Not being registered tends to restrict women’s opportunity for promotion and to progress into positions of influence and seniority. Research in other fields points to formal qualifications mattering more for women’s career advancement than they do for men.1 So, boost your post nominal by an extra letter. It won’t cost you any more. Fellowship is not only for the fellas.


Vanessa Bird, FRAIA, is the Australian Institute of Architects Victorian Chapter President and co-founder of Bird de la Coeur Architects. She is an experienced juror and is involved with course accreditation for the universities. Vanessa has won awards for group housing and housing for retirees, including the Victorian Coastal Award for Excellence, the State Government’s Highest Award.

  1.  Gill Matthewson provides the following reference: Deborah A. O’Neil, Margaret M. Hopkins, and Diana Bilimoria, “Women’s Careers at the Start of the 21st Century: Patterns and Paradoxes,” Journal of Business Ethics 80, no. 4 (2008): 733.

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Women in Architecture: Catherine Startari http://archiparlour.org/women-architecture-catherine-startari/ http://archiparlour.org/women-architecture-catherine-startari/#respond Fri, 12 Aug 2016 08:21:00 +0000 http://archiparlour.org/?p=13710 Our latest profile in the Women in Architecture series is GHD Woodhead architect and new NCGE member Catherine Startari, who has returned to home base after seven years working abroad.

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Our latest profile in the Women in Architecture series is GHD Woodhead architect and new NCGE member Catherine Startari, who has returned to home base after seven years working abroad.

Catherine Startari image

Catherine studied at the University of South Australia and is a registered architect. She has developed as an architect by working in Australia and internationally, including seven years in the Middle East. Catherine enjoys travelling with her family and the opportunity to discover new architecture along the way.

What do you enjoy most in the practice of architecture?

I love the universal language of this profession; my training and experience has allowed me to work overseas, and further develop professionally in a culture far removed from the one I knew growing up. I now appreciate that the design process, and practice of architecture, is the same no matter where you are.

Working in this field allows you to interact with clients from different disciplines and industries to learn how their business operates. It is satisfying to observe how well-considered design can help clients achieve their business objectives. Quite often projects are commercially driven, so I most enjoy the challenge of integrating good design within the constraints of budget and time.

Can you tell us about a key project that you have been involved in?

In 2009 I moved to the Middle East with GHD’s architecture practice. I had the opportunity to work on a range of projects, including a residential development located on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi. The island is home to the iconic Louvre Museum designed by Jean Nouvel, with plans for the Guggenheim to also reside there. The client is developer Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), who is developing a new neighbourhood that will respond to the region’s changing housing demand. Typically, the residential model in the United Arab Emirates is either a high-rise apartment building or large villas, with not much range in between.

GHD’s Middle East architecture practice designed the masterplan for Saadiyat Lagoons consisting of housing, schools and community centres with facilities. The masterplan is broken into various phases and I was responsible for designing five townhouse types that are arranged in various configurations for Phase 1, which comprises 820 townhouses in total.

TDIC was looking to provide customers with a contemporary designed townhouse, with either two or three bedrooms. It was critical that the design accommodate the extreme weather conditions of Abu Dhabi, with a careful balance of insulated blockwork and glazing, yet still achieve a modern appearance.

The project was presented at this year’s Cityscape, a real estate exhibition where developers can showcase their projects to local and regional real estate investors. Phase 1 of the development was received very well by the public, and the client is preparing the project for sales.

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Lagoons Masterplan, produced by GHD Woodhead

What are you looking forward to in your career?

After living away from Australia for many years I’m especially looking forward to further developing my career in Adelaide. Adelaide is home, where my family is, where I grew up and first learnt about architecture. When I completed my studies it was common for architectural graduates to migrate to the eastern states where it was perceived that there was more opportunity in the architecture scene. South Australia has a lot to offer in terms of exposure to architecture and the city is evolving in many positive ways. I’m delighted to now be able to contribute to the development of the built environment in the city that I am so fond of.

What do you see as your core strength in the practice of architecture?

I’m proud of my ability to develop relationships with my clients and colleagues through this profession. Architecture is about people and creating spaces that respond to their functional requirement. To do this you must engage with your client to draw out an understanding of what is needed. I like to think of myself as fairly personable – this helps to develop a positive relationship with the client, and leads to a freedom in conversation to reach the most suitable solution for the project.

What do you hope to achieve by being on the National Committee for Gender Equity (NCGE)?

I wish to contribute to the strong progress the NCGE has made over the past few years in bringing together peers to form new ideas for our profession.

As an architect and a mother I hope to bring my personal experiences to the group, to discuss issues such as pay equity, flexible working arrangements, and opportunities for development for both men and women architects.

Through the committee, I would like to be able to highlight the business benefits of promoting female architects who are role models. Our aim is to develop a network of support for female architects to develop their careers without boundaries. Some female architects may feel extra pressure to demonstrate their work performance is not suffering as they balance their career and parental responsibilities, despite the fact they are probably over delivering. This is a pressure that transcends many industries, and all parents (whether male and female) feel it when they have to sacrifice time at work due to a sick child or school activities.

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Lagoons Streetview, produced by GHD Woodhead

 

Catherine Startari was interviewed by Michael Smith of Atelier Red + Black. This profile is part of the Women in Architecture series co-published with the Australian Institute of Architects.

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Reporting from the Front http://archiparlour.org/reporting-from-the-front/ http://archiparlour.org/reporting-from-the-front/#respond Fri, 12 Aug 2016 07:53:23 +0000 http://archiparlour.org/?p=13703 Tania Davidge was in Venice on Parlour's behalf. Following her excellent guest posting on Instagram, she shares her thoughts on the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale.

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Tania Davidge was in Venice on Parlour’s behalf. Following her excellent guest posting on Instagram, she shares her thoughts on the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale.

1. Reporting from the Front It seems fitting to be posting for Parlour from an architecture biennale visually defined by a lady precariously perched atop a very tall ladder. This lady is “reporting from the front” – the theme of this year’s Biennale. According to creative director Alejandro Aravena, “There are several battles that need to be won and several frontiers that need to be expanded in order to improve the quality of the built environment and consequently people’s quality of life.” It seems to me that equity and diversity fit perfectly into this conversation. In hindsight, where Australia’s tyranny of distance doesn’t force us to choose creative directors before a theme is announced, the short-listed Parlour led exhibition would have been a good fit. That being said I am very excited about seeing “The Pool”. I have a soft spot for the iconic stature of the pool in Australian cultural mythology and it will be wonderful to see an Australian exhibition that explores a compelling concept in depth and breadth this year. (Also, I’m a bit excited about seeing a great Aussie icon in the form of Ian Thorpe – apparently he is making an appearance. For those of you not from Australia, the Olympics are this year – you should google him!) #labiennale #architettura #BiennaleArchitettura2016 #architecture #venice #parlourinstaguest @taniadavidge

A photo posted by Parlour (@_parlour) on

 

It seems fitting to be writing for Parlour about an architecture biennale visually defined by a lady precariously perched atop a very tall ladder. This lady is ‘reporting from the front’ – the theme of this year’s Biennale. A biennale, like our lady reporting from the front, is precarious in nature. It is temporary and ephemeral but it can also be enduring. It is a site of public architectural discourse – it negotiates architectural values. In some ways it is easy to dismiss it as one big archi-party-slash-circus, but the conversations and disagreements that arise from the biennale set the tone for architecture culture. The Biennale is a chance to set an agenda for architecture and to provide food for thought until the next Biennale and hopefully beyond.

So, what did this year’s Biennale tell us? How did it talk to us? What will we take away and what will we leave behind?

Putting people first

‘We need a social licence to operate,’ creative director Alejandro Aravena tells the media scrum during an interview in the Arsenale. What gives architects the right or licence to operate? Typically it is those who hold the purse strings – the client or the government. However, by emphasising the social rather than capital or physical form, Aravena invites us to begin with people. The social speaks immediately about people; it is the relationships, the interactions and the communication between people that structure our communities. A social licence to operate focuses on putting people first – not the image or the object of architecture.

Rather than an object-centric biennale, Aravena has overseen a people-centric biennale and this provides both highlights and difficulties for architecture. None of this was more evident than at the US pavilion.

Provocations and resistance

The Architectural Imagination’ exhibited twelve speculative projects across four sites in the economically troubled city of Detroit. The exhibition presented work by ‘visionary’ architects such as Greg Lynn FORM, Preston Scott Cohen Inc., BairBalliet, and Marshall Brown Projects and advocated the ‘power of architecture to construct culture and catalyze cities’. In a biennale interested in presenting the difference a grass roots take on architecture can make, the US pavilion’s evident interest in sculptural form and aesthetics was displacing and disconcerting. In some respects this joy in form-making was liberating, but in other respects it was difficult. Feeling displaced and disconcerted is not a bad thing. It raises provocative and complex questions. Why is it difficult to talk about form and aesthetics in relationship to social good? Doesn’t everyone deserve beautiful architecture? And what exactly is beauty?

And the advocacy for the ‘power of architecture’ did not sit well with everyone. To counter this treatment of Detroit, an activist group, Detroit Resists, organised a virtual protest exhibition stating that, ‘ “the power of architecture” might serve as simply another name for architecture’s political indifference—the capacity of architecture to be of service to political regimes, no matter their ideological orientation. This architectural power has been manifestly apparent in architecture’s recruitments against indigenous, impoverished, marginalized, and precarious communities across the globe, usually in the name of “development” or “modernization” in the second half of the 20th century.’

These overlaid American exhibitions showcased the two architectural camps that polarised conversation at the Biennale. However, the situation is more complex than two opposing camps suggest.

I have to admit I found some of the projects in the US pavilion beautiful and architecturally compelling. But I was also disturbed by the lack of regard for context displayed by the majority of the proposals. This disregard for context only served to emphasise physical form over the relationship of the proposals to the city of Detroit. The lack of people represented in the drawings and the models across the twelve projects compounded this difficulty. Marshal Brown Projects’ Dequindre Civic Academy and BairBalliet’s Next Port of Call thoughtfully contemplated occupation and inhabitation across drawing, collage and model, but Preston Scott Cohen Inc.’s Revolving Detroit provided simply the saddest use of model people I have ever seen. This does not bode well for an architectural project, visionary or not.

It would be easy to dismiss the American contribution to Aravena’s Biennale but perhaps it is more interesting to look at the forces that shape its presentation. The introductory text to the pavilion spoke about the architects working with a Detroit advisory board and the residents of the neighbourhoods of the chosen sites. Regardless of the level of engagement, the architectural process is a different beast to an architectural exhibition. How do you represent the interactivity of the dynamic processes that feed design? Traditional modes of architectural representation place architecture front and centre. They amplify the object and suppress context, both physical and ephemeral. Architecture negotiates a complex network of issues that are difficult to understand through second-hand presentation, even for architects. Perhaps we need to look at how architecture as a process can be better communicated?

Where and who are the people we are talking about?

There were some powerful and beautiful examples of placing people first at the Biennale. Poland’s exhibition, ‘Fair Building’, focused on the experiences of the workers on construction sites. It provided a compelling opening into the dangers and difficulties building workers face on a day to day basis. Transsolar and Anja Thierfelder created a wonderful installation of light – ‘Lightscapes’ – in the Arsenale that was both monumental and ephemeral.


In ‘Lightscapes’ beams of light are made visible through the control of the humidity, and therefore the climate, of the room. The space, as you enter, is noticeably cooler than the room you have left. There was a sense of the wondrous in this room. People collected under the light moving through it, allowing it to play on their hands and faces. The exhibit was absolutely compelling and it was further activated by the fact that this space was incredibly photogenic.


Jiakun Architects, with ‘People Mountain People Sea – a Celebration of Everyday Life’, presented an open model of their West Village leisure complex in Chengdu, China. The ramping steel model was joyously populated with figures describing a plethora of activities. In the centre of the model, standing in for the central sporting fields, Jiakun Architects created a marble race game where visitors were invited to set the ball rolling along the ramps of the model.

Life beyond investment

The Spanish pavilion presented ‘Unfinished’, which deservedly took home the Golden Lion. ‘Unfinished’ examined the effects of the recent financial crisis on Spain’s built form through a collection of provocative photographs.

The exhibition beautifully and articulately showed how Spain’s architects are responding to this crisis and the scarcity it has created through innovative architectural solutions such as flexible compact interiors and adaptive re-use. The pavilion’s central exhibition space displayed images of unfinished buildings; construction activity arrested for a lack of funds. However, not all activity in these buildings has ceased. Many of the photographs focused on the fact that these buildings, regardless of their suitability for occupation, are nonetheless occupied. One photograph shows a family opening Christmas presents in a space open to the elements consisting of a bare concrete floor, an unfinished concrete wall and two columns. In another, a girl wrapped in a towel is walking up a concrete ramp that has planks affixed for ‘ease’ of access. The walls are half-finished and pallets of terracotta bricks litter the space. These buildings are devoid of investment but not devoid of life.

The Pool

And then there was ‘The Pool’, the first Australian exhibition in its new pavilion.


Focusing on the public swimming pool as a social space, the exhibition presented the pool through the stories of nine prominent Australians – Tim Flannery, Ian Thorpe, Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales (Romance was Born), Christos Tsiolkas, Anna Funder, Hetti Perkins, Shane Gould and Paul Kelly – none of them architects. ‘The Pool’ provided a counterpoint to the Biennale, where so much information was offered up without any form of mediation.

The sounds of the exhibition drew people inside and then into the water. I must confess to having a paddle myself. The space was not quiet. The noises of the people in the pavilion were amplified by the hard surfaces and mingled with the soundscape of watery stories. ‘The Pool’ invited visitors to stay and spend a little time. And if you did, the depth of the exhibition unfolded; from the sounds, and scents of the exhibition – the bush, the bushfire and the inescapable scent of processed public pool water – to the exhibition texts presented in broadsheet format. Sitting in the pavilion reading the paper evoked the feeling of dipping in and out of the newspaper while watching your kids take Saturday morning swimming lessons. The effect was spatial and social all at the same time.

But, let’s return to the overall question of what we will take away from this year’s Biennale and what we will leave behind?

Wanted: Clever, considerate curators

A take-away from this Biennale – and, as far as I can see, every biennale I have visited – is that architecture could do with more thoughtful curators. In a statement published on the Biennale di Venezia website, creative director Alejandro Aravena said, ‘There are several battles that need to be won and several frontiers that need to be expanded in order to improve the quality of the built environment and consequently people’s quality of life.’ But what exactly are these battles and where are these frontiers?

In ‘Reporting from the Front’ there was very little acknowledgement of the historical legacy of the theme. Placing emphasis on the social relevance of architecture has deep roots in humanist architectural practices post World War II, such as those promoted by CIAM’s ‘Team 10’, and the socially engaged and community focused architects of the 1970s and 1980s, such as the ‘Architects’ Revolutionary Council’ and ‘Matrix Feminist Design Co-operative’ in London and the ‘Community Design Centres in the USA. (Spatial Agency provide a  good resource that touches on a variety of these forms of practice.) In addition, questions on equity and diversity fit perfectly into a conversation on how architecture is reporting from the front and it would have been nice to see these issues addressed more directly – particularly in the structure of the Biennale, where it seems that all-male panels are still the norm. The Biennale, while outwardly focused on people, did not tackle the people that make up our profession. We need to ask, what are the fronts without and also within architecture that need to be addressed?

Aravena’s opening rooms began with a provocation about the wastefulness of the biennale format. These spaces, in both the Arsenale and the main Giardini pavilion, used material recycled from the previous biennale – metal studs and plasterboard – to create beautiful (if almost content-less) rooms. These rooms were an open-ended provocation and what followed were the invited participant exhibitions. These exhibitions were often text heavy and densely layered, making engagement with them difficult, particularly considering all of the Prosecco that gets consumed during the vernissage.

Prosecco-soaked vernissage aside, you have to wonder what the everyday curious non-architect visiting the Biennale might make of all of these architectural offerings. What began with a provocation did not end with any kind of summary or commentary. Aravena left the invited exhibitions to their own devices and the audience to draw their own conclusions. Although the overall Biennale framework was strong, what was really needed was a curatorial hand to draw out the architectural threads and themes, and to articulate the ways that they are influencing contemporary and future practice across the breadth of the exhibitions.

Who is the audience?

The Architecture Biennale needs to focus on communication and presentation. It has a much more difficult job than the Art Biennale, where the objects of contemplation are typically of a size that fits within their allotted pavilions. An artist I met at the Biennale expressed disappointment in the event, noting, ‘It just feels like an architectural trade show’. I can safely assume he has never visited an architectural trade show, but his comment was telling. If we can’t communicate with artists who are sympathetic to the causes of architecture, who are we communicating with? If Aravena’s Biennale focused on people, what about the people visiting the Biennale?

An architecture biennale is not a building. It is not experienced in the same way and it does not communicate the same things. It communicates both more and less than the object of architecture. The architecture biennale is an opportunity – an opportunity to communicate the ideas and the context that informs architectural practice and to talk to people (not just architects) about architecture beyond the physical building.

16. Postscript… We can’t look at an exhibition focussed on the public and arguably democratic space of the pool without examining that other iconic Australian body of water – the ocean. As Australians, we are defined by our edges and this edge has often been one that speaks of our isolation but also of our great potential – our broad horizon. Unfortunately, in contemporary Australia, this has become a cold and heartless place. It is a space of censorship, where we #turnbacktheboats and are not allowed to speak of them in any meaningful form. And, it is a place where we place people who seek #asylum in indefinite detention. Where is our generosity? We need to work harder to find it. #BiennaleArchitettura2016 #architecture #venice #australia #parlourinstaguest Signing out @taniadavidge… #reportingfromthefront

A photo posted by Parlour (@_parlour) on


Tania Davidge is an architect, writer and co-director of the research practice OpenHAUS. Her research focuses on the way we communicate architecture and the built environment to different audiences.

 

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Dear Artforum: Six men memorialise Zaha Hadid http://archiparlour.org/dear-artforum-six-men-memorialise-zaha-hadid/ http://archiparlour.org/dear-artforum-six-men-memorialise-zaha-hadid/#respond Thu, 04 Aug 2016 05:10:32 +0000 http://archiparlour.org/?p=13678 Reading Artforum's latest issue, Karen Burns falls through a gap in time – between a sophisticated account of identity and the antiquated myths of architecture.

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Reading Artforum’s latest issue, Karen Burns falls through a gap in time – between a sophisticated account of identity and the antiquated myths of architecture.

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Dear Artforum,

I’ve just bought your latest issue and want to thank you for a fantastic investigation of identity. The complexity of our ‘post-identity’ world is immediately signalled by the striking Barbara Kruger cover. In fact, it was the cover not the contents that first caught my attention in the local news agency. I bought on impulse.

At the local coffee shop I eagerly read the roundtable on ‘the shifting coordinates of identity’ as seven distinguished art historians, scholars and critics discussed the issues. My brand new copy of your magazine is now heavily underlined.

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Artforum’s editor Michelle Kuo asks, ‘Just because we’re talking about it, does that change anything?’ She distinguishes between institutional, educational and discursive discussions and ‘how that’s failed to gain traction in terms of a politics on the ground’. This is an important point about the gap between the complex interrogations of identity categories of race, gender and sexuality conducted within the academy and white box gallery spaces, and the conditions of everyday life that have given birth to the new protest practices of what Emily Roysdon in the same roundtable calls ‘identitarian activist groups like Black Lives Matter’.

Parlour, the group to which I belong, is also an ‘identitarian activist group’: it organises equity in architecture around the category of ‘women’, despite being aware of the many differences between women. Roysdon notes that, even in our ‘newly complex moment’, groups like Black Lives Matter (and I would add Parlour) are still struggling with the ‘same structural oppositions’. This last phrase I think means two things. Firstly, that despite our attempts to complicate any single identity category by examining overlapping kinds of discrimination – an insight enabled by the term ‘intersectionality’ – long-standing dualisms continue to organise and structure identity: black/white, woman/man, Anglo/other. People often find it difficult to notice, examine and then discuss the effects of overlapping identities. Secondly, even fifty years after the emergence of the civil rights movement and the women’s movement, deep-seated structures of discrimination remain. Progress for marginalised groups has been slow and provisional. An insight into how and why these structures remain so resistant to introspection is gained at another point in the roundtable when art historian Huey Copeland observes, that ‘so often, it’s artists marked as different who become the vehicles through which to talk about these issues, as opposed to artists who seem to have a neutral identity, when, in fact, those identities –’ ‘are never neutral’, chimes in Michelle Kuo to finish his sentence.

Imagine my delight and then shock to discover in the same issue, an eight-page obituary of Iraqi-born architect Zaha Hadid written by six men. The first piece, by Mark Wigley, is a sophisticated formal analysis of her work but, towards the end, he discusses Hadid as a media figure who ‘equal measures of admiration and irritation’, noting ‘the very presence of an Arab woman on the biggest stage, seemed to incite a constant oscillation between admiration and thinly disguised resentment’. Wigley suggests that finally the work itself provoked the most ‘intense reaction – which is the ultimate compliment’. But even his words suggest that buildings and body were never so easily disentangled. As Despina Stratigakos observed in her obituary of Hadid, after Zaha Hadid won the Pritzker Prize (architecture’s Nobel) journalists focussed on her looks and personality. In her recent book Where Are the Women Architects? Stratigakos elaborates on this claim, noting that, ‘not a single journalist failed to mention her gender’. She quotes from some of these pieces: ‘workaholic and single’, a woman of ‘earthier appetites’ with a fondness for ‘lamb’s testicles’ and ‘where is the vibrant monster I’d been promised?’ The language of the journalists helps us refine Wigley’s description of the emotions he calls irritation and resentment. We can call them misogyny and racism.

All the other obituaries are leavened by personal reminiscence and friendship. Remembrances of the recently departed by bereaved friends may not be the place for forensic investigations of the structures that shape the lives of women in architecture. But both Bernard Tschumi and Frank Gehry’s pieces touch on these broader issues. Their remarks gave us some insight into how those who seem to have a ‘neutral identity’ as Copeland calls it, see those for whom identity is not an issue that can ever be avoided. Gehry acknowledges Zaha Hadid’s unusual prominence by noting that almost half of all architectural graduates are women, but these numbers are not translated into an equivalent proportion of practising architects, nor do many women enter the ranks of leadership, opining:

‘leadership is still mainly male. Zaha was the exception, and she became a model. She had the confidence, talent, and a willingness to jump into the fray. She would not accept a secondary role.’

Zaha Hadid spoke publicly of the confidence instilled by her affluent, cosmopolitan, intelligent and talented family of whom Bernard Tschumi paints a vivid portrait in these pages. Gehry’s remarks perform a familiar refrain in contemporary architecture; acknowledging the disappearance of women from the profession and their under-representation amongst leaders, yet without an accompanying discussion of the structural forces producing absence and loss. Zaha Hadid’s unusual advancement is causally attributed to her own determination.

If anyone had wanted to do a little bit of investigating they could have easily found the slew of institutional reports, academic books and articles and even the online Stratigakos obituary of Hadid citing some of the evidence-based explanations for women’s minority status in architecture: the overt and covert assumption amongst architects and client groups that leadership and design skill are male attributes; a masculinist working culture of long hours and presumption that care giving duties are evidence of a lack of commitment to architecture; an internship culture of unpaid work that helps keep minorities out; a ‘hazing’ culture that prizes intensely ‘robust’, aggressive attitudes and personal, verbal criticism; a competitive profession freighted with an oversupply of young architectural workers and an undersupply of commissions for architects. And perhaps lastly, the belief that the obituaries subscribe to: that measures of success and failure in architecture can be attributed to individual agency alone. Perhaps these are the things behind Tschumi’s description of the ‘alpha male architects, and conservative, even chauvinistic, clients’ that Hadid faced, but even architects come off relatively well in this comparison. A refusal to see architecture as a social practice, benighted by the same prejudices that bedevil most areas of cultural and social life is a wilful amnesia, a refusal of responsibility: to own, name and acknowledge one’s own role in perpetuating the structures that have allowed architecture to remain a bastion of the culture that other contributors to this journal call ‘mostly white elite’. (p.114)

Slipping between the roundtable on identity and the obituary pages I fell through a crack in time. Zaha Hadid has entered history, but the voice and beliefs of the profession that shimmers in these pages betrays an antiquated investment in mythic narratives. I’m not asking that the lovingly written portraits and heartfelt loss of Zaha Hadid’s friends should have been weighed down by earnest analysis of architecture’s ‘women and minorities’ problem, but one scholarly piece could have been included to address these issues and connect them to Artforum’s fine dissection of the interplay between identity and identification; between how we see our ourselves and how others construct us.

Yours affectionately, Karen Burns.

PS. There are a few people you could have asked: Despina Stratigakos, Lori Brown, or Lynne Walker and Susanna Torre (the last two have toiled for forty-five years on these issues), Jane Rendell, Rosa Sheng, or those of us here at Parlour. We’re not short of women who can write about Zaha Hadid and women in architecture, but instead you found six men to memorialise her.

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Overdue, overtime http://archiparlour.org/overdue-overtime/ http://archiparlour.org/overdue-overtime/#comments Tue, 02 Aug 2016 09:02:09 +0000 http://archiparlour.org/?p=13654 The prevalence of unpaid overtime has serious hidden costs for our profession. Clinton Cole calls for a more transparent remuneration system.

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The prevalence of unpaid overtime has serious hidden costs for our profession. Clinton Cole calls for a more transparent remuneration system that includes rigorously enforced paid overtime (as required by the Architects Award).

1280px-Aarau_station_clock_closeup

I recently received an invitation to participate in a survey gauging current industry salary rates. For business owners and employers, information on market salaries can be difficult to come by, so an industry survey could be very useful. However, I have concerns about making assessments of remuneration based on salary only. Salary is often seen as the ‘be all and end all’ when comparing remuneration, but this fails to fully account for how salary packages compare once overtime and benefits are included.

I also recently interviewed an experienced registered architect who advised his current salary was $130,000 per annum. He then clarified that his average working week involved 60 hours of work and that he was not paid overtime or given time-in-lieu. Under Part 13 of the Architects Award, overtime should be paid at 1.5 times the employee’s base rate or taken as time-in-lieu (although the recent Award review indicates there is some confusion on whether this is taken at a 1-to-1 or 1-to-1.5 ratio). For the interviewee, once overtime pay was factored in, his base salary fell to $69,577.47 + overtime – a stark difference! Yet which of these numbers would be reported in a salary survey? I suspect the higher figure.

Our profession is characterised by rampant non-payment of overtime and the hugely entrenched cultural tendency to perform long hours. This has two major costs for the profession – it places firms that pay for overtime a competitive disadvantage, and it works against diversity in the workplace.

Competitive disadvantage

I believe that firms paying overtime (as required by the Architects Award) are at a competitive disadvantage in bidding for work at realistic fee levels. Architectural firms are not only competing on fees with other practices, but are also, in fact, competing on the basis of how much unpaid overtime they can elicit from their staff. That is, unpaid staff overtime is subsidising many practices and therefore many projects. Adding further insult, many staff members may be charged out on an hourly basis in excess of 38 hours a week, yet they are paid only on the basis of a 38-hour week. This muddies salary reporting in the architectural industry and undermines the financial viability of the industry more broadly.

Workplace diversity

Unpaid overtime has a second, hidden cost – workplace diversity. A work culture where unpaid overtime is normalised is one that is very likely to unconsciously penalise those with ‘visible caring responsibilities’ or, less euphemistically, mothers with young children. Although it can sometimes feel otherwise, the work to be done on any given project is finite. Project hours have to come from somewhere and, at present, too many of them are coming from unpaid overtime. Converting unpaid overtime into paid overtime could indirectly create meaningful part-time employment opportunities, as the viability of part-time work compared to appropriately remunerated overtime may change in some cases. At present, the ability to wring more unpaid hours from a single staff member is generally financially preferable to employing someone part-time.

Interestingly, from the work of Parlour and the analysis of the Australian census data by researcher Gill Matthewson, we know that men in architecture are overrepresented at higher pay brackets at all levels and also overrepresented in long work hours. While I can’t refine the data to a direct hours-to-income relationship (and indeed the ABS has advised that such data would be unreliable), it seems plausible that there is a correlation between long hours and higher pay. It’s also likely that a proportion of the men working long hours and earning higher income are sole practitioners and directors, since we know men are disproportionately represented in that cohort also. Moving to a rigorously enforced ‘salary plus paid overtime model’ would make identifying and rectifying any remuneration gap between genders easier. The additional transparency such a model provides may partially address the gender gap that is otherwise inexplicable. Of course, such a move would not address the wider cultural issues around who is able to work longer hours and who takes on unpaid responsibilities outside the workplace, but it would at the very least mean that women who elect to work long hours would be paid on the same basis as their male peers.


Clinton Cole is the founder and director of CplusC Architectural Workshop, an architectural practice based in Sydney. A registered Architect, licensed Builder and accredited Construction Supervisor, Clinton has more than twenty years of experience in the architecture and building industry. Having worked on-site in the early part of his career, Clinton firmly believes that an hour’s work should earn an hour’s pay and that a diverse society should be designed and built by a diverse workforce. CplusC reflects these beliefs in its business operations.

This article was written with assistance from Neph Wake. 

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Meet the new National Committee for Gender Equity http://archiparlour.org/meet-the-new-national-committee-for-gender-equity/ http://archiparlour.org/meet-the-new-national-committee-for-gender-equity/#respond Mon, 01 Aug 2016 06:24:51 +0000 http://archiparlour.org/?p=13607 Meet the new-look National Committee for Gender Equity, a welcome mix of familiar faces and newcomers.

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It has been two years since the formation of the Australian Institute of Architects National Committee for Gender Equity. With the passing of this milestone, the committee has recruited some new members to continue the push for a more equitable profession. Chairing the committee for the 2016–2017 year is Lee Hillam, who takes over from the inaugural chairperson, Emma Williamson. Here is a snapshot of the new look team.

Lee Hillam

Lee Hillam is the Chairperson of the NCGE. She is a director of Dunn & Hillam Architects in Sydney, a parent, and an advocate for architecture’s role in designing better places for all people. Lee has been instrumental in setting up Dunn & Hillam Architects to be a flexible workplace with a high level of business transparency for all staff.

Michael Smith
Michael Smith is the Deputy Chairperson of the NCGE. He is a director of small practice Atelier Red+Black, based in Fitzroy, Victoria. Michael is a passionate advocate for architecture and good design, and writes the Red+Black Architect blog as well as columns for Domain.com.au.

Emma Williamson was the founding Chair of the NCGE and is a director of CODA, a practice she co-founded with her husband Kieran almost 20 years ago. Emma is convinced that architects are the best problem solvers and that we can make a big difference to all types of issues. As well as advocating for good design, equity and diversity, Emma is a master juggler and has three children that she happily throws into what has become the somewhat choreographed chaos of her life.

Gill

Dr Gill Matthewson is currently based at Monash University in Melbourne. She has been researching into architecture and gender for many years, and most recently completed her PhD ‘Dimensions of Gender: women’s careers in the Australian architecture profession’ at the University of Queensland. Gill is also a member of the Parlour collective.

Jessica Hardwick

Jessica Hardwick is a new member of the NCGE. She is lead architect for Happy Haus and also has her own home-based studio based in Brisbane. Jessica is passionate about the role of architecture in building communities and social infrastructure and works primarily in the residential and community sectors.

Catherine Startari

Catherine Startari is excited to have been given the opportunity to join the NCGE this year. She is a project architect at GHD Woodhead in Adelaide, and is currently involved in urban design and defence projects. She has recently returned to Adelaide with her husband and young son after working as an architect in the Middle East for the past seven years.

Leone Lorrimer

Leone Lorrimer has been a member of the NCGE since 2014. She is CEO of dwp|suters, was a director of a major Australian international practice for 19 years and had five years experience on the client side in the UAE. She is an advocate for the advancement of women through AIA, WGEA and NAWIC, and is a member of Chief Executive Women.

Sam McQueeney

Sam McQueeney is a Graduate Architect at Circa Morris-Nunn Architects, a small practice based in Hobart, Tasmania. Passionate about engaging in the architectural community, he represents Tasmania on the Emerging Architects and Graduates Network group, and has also volunteered on the local Open House Hobart organising committee.

Madeline Sewall

Madeline Sewall works for the vibrant Melbourne practice Breathe Architecture, where she leads a variety of projects ranging from residential to commercial. Outside of the practice, Madeline enjoys writing, painting and skyping with her faraway sisters.

Sander de vries

Sander de Vries is a new member of the NCGE. He is a Project Architect at SQC Architecture, a medium-sized firm in Hawker ACT, and specialises in Community architecture. Sander is a proud and active dad of two fantastic little boys, who keep him grounded and well loved.

 

The National Committee for Gender Equity was established by the National Council in December 2013 to implement the Institute’s Gender Equity Policy and to recommend actions, initiatives and programs required to give practical effect to that policy. See more information on the policy and the work of the NCGE committee on the Institute website.

 

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TV show seeks heritage projects http://archiparlour.org/tv-show-seeks-heritage-projects/ http://archiparlour.org/tv-show-seeks-heritage-projects/#respond Mon, 01 Aug 2016 04:20:08 +0000 http://archiparlour.org/?p=13642 The ABC’s Restoration Australia is looking for heritage projects to film in 2016. Fremantle Media is very excited to be producing the next two series of the ABC’s hugely popular Restoration Australia. The show’s producers are currently looking for historically significant projects to follow. If you or a client have a building dating between 1815 and 1960, and are about to embark on its restoration, they’d love to hear from you. The size and budget doesn’t matter, but passion and history does. Filming will start in September 2016. To put your project forward or to find out more, contact restoration.australia@fremantlemedia.com.au.

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The ABC’s Restoration Australia is looking for heritage projects to film in 2016.

Restoration Australia_V1

Fremantle Media is very excited to be producing the next two series of the ABC’s hugely popular Restoration Australia.

The show’s producers are currently looking for historically significant projects to follow. If you or a client have a building dating between 1815 and 1960, and are about to embark on its restoration, they’d love to hear from you. The size and budget doesn’t matter, but passion and history does.

Filming will start in September 2016. To put your project forward or to find out more, contact restoration.australia@fremantlemedia.com.au.

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Nominations for the 2017 Gold Medal http://archiparlour.org/nominations-for-the-2017-gold-medal/ http://archiparlour.org/nominations-for-the-2017-gold-medal/#comments Fri, 29 Jul 2016 05:25:07 +0000 http://archiparlour.org/?p=13619 Calling for suggestions of women to nominate for the next Australian Institute of Architects Gold Medal.

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We’ve had Neville and Ken, Glenn and Donald, Graeme and Lawrence, Roy and John (quite a few of both!) and, of course, a long list of Peters and Richards. But isn’t it time a few more women took their place on the Gold Medal stage?

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Fun fact: Did you know that we’ve had more Peters win the Australian Institute of Architects Gold Medal than women? More Richards … More Johns … More Williams. Though we’re well into the 21st century, the representation of women on the list of Gold Medal winners is disappointingly light. Here at Parlour we believe that the achievements of exceptional Australian women architects deserve more recognition.

The Australian Institute of Architects is currently accepting nominations for the 2017 Gold Medal from its various chapters and committees. If you’d like the National Committee for Gender Equity to put a particularly impressive name forward, simply send your suggestion via email by Tuesday 2 August 2016.

The Committee will then select a number of nominations to develop – the supporting information for nominations needs to include comprehensive biographical details, a career history, evidence of distinguished work and Australian Institute of Architects service.

The Australian Institute of Architects Gold Medal is the highest honour the Institute can bestow. The award was created in 1960 to recognise distinguished service by Australian architects who have designed or executed buildings of high merit; produced work of great distinction resulting in the advancement of architecture; or endowed the profession of architecture in a distinguished manner.


You might also be interested to read Julia Donoho’s account of her successful campaign for Julia Morgan to be awarded the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal.

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EOI – Shepparton Art Museum http://archiparlour.org/eoi-shepparton-art-museum/ http://archiparlour.org/eoi-shepparton-art-museum/#respond Fri, 29 Jul 2016 01:55:19 +0000 http://archiparlour.org/?p=13592 Greater Shepparton City Council invites expressions of interest for the first stage of a design competition for the new Shepparton Art Museum (SAM). Stage 1 of the competition seeks submissions from a diverse range of suitably qualified and experienced architects – including practices led by women – to design an “exciting, best-practice contemporary museum architecture on a remarkable site in regional Victoria”. Shortlisted practices will then be invited to submit concept designs for stage 2 of the competition. SAM has an ambitious curatorial program that engages with its local context, while exploring contemporary themes and ideas that are global in their scope and ambition. The museum is noted for its ceramics collections, and holds significant collections of Indigenous art from around Australia, signature historic paintings and a growing collection by leading contemporary artists. The competition seeks an outstanding design that will help attract new audiences and facilitate the museum’s curatorial and community/cultural programming. It should include a strong landscape component and become an important element within Victoria Park Lake, as well as contributing to Shepparton’s urban environs. The project is seen as an opportunity “to celebrate and enhance the rich and diverse Shepparton community, which includes the largest Aboriginal community in Victoria and people from many parts of the world”. Competition jury Shelley Penn […]

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Greater Shepparton City Council invites expressions of interest for the first stage of a design competition for the new Shepparton Art Museum (SAM).

Victoria_Park_Lake_-_NEW_SAM_-_Logo_on_location

Stage 1 of the competition seeks submissions from a diverse range of suitably qualified and experienced architects – including practices led by women – to design an “exciting, best-practice contemporary museum architecture on a remarkable site in regional Victoria”. Shortlisted practices will then be invited to submit concept designs for stage 2 of the competition.

SAM has an ambitious curatorial program that engages with its local context, while exploring contemporary themes and ideas that are global in their scope and ambition. The museum is noted for its ceramics collections, and holds significant collections of Indigenous art from around Australia, signature historic paintings and a growing collection by leading contemporary artists.

The competition seeks an outstanding design that will help attract new audiences and facilitate the museum’s curatorial and community/cultural programming. It should include a strong landscape component and become an important element within Victoria Park Lake, as well as contributing to Shepparton’s urban environs.

The project is seen as an opportunity “to celebrate and enhance the rich and diverse Shepparton community, which includes the largest Aboriginal community in Victoria and people from many parts of the world”.

Competition jury
  • Shelley Penn (chair), Manager, City Design Studio, City of Melbourne
  • Professor Donald Bates, University of Melbourne and Director, Lab Architecture Studio
  • Rueben Berg, Executive Director, Indigenous Architecture and Design Victoria.
  • Dr Rebecca Coates, Director, Shepparton Art Museum
  • Doug Hall, AM, writer and curator. Director, Queensland Art GalleryǀGOMA (1987–2007), Australia Commissioner, Venice Biennale 2009 and 2011
  • Carillo Gantner AO, philanthropist
  • Jill Garner, Victorian Government Architect

The two-stage competition is endorsed by the Australian Institute of Architects. Full details are available on the competition website.

View from the SAM site looking over Victoria Park Lake.

View from the SAM site looking over Victoria Park Lake.

 


Note: Justine Clark, founding editor of Parlour, is Competition Adviser. 

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Business from their Perspective http://archiparlour.org/business-from-their-perspective/ http://archiparlour.org/business-from-their-perspective/#respond Sat, 16 Jul 2016 06:30:29 +0000 http://archiparlour.org/?p=13573 Hear Janne Ryan, Eve Clark and Hannah Tribe share their insights and wisdom about business at this upcoming Sydney breakfast event.

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Hear Janne Ryan, Eve Clark and Hannah Tribe share their insights and wisdom about business at this upcoming Sydney breakfast event.

Perspectives INSTAGRAM 1
Perspectives is a new speaker series that is all about the sharing of conversation and ideas to provide inspiration within the creative community.

Talk 02 tackles the topic of Business. Speakers include Janne Ryan, co-founder and leader of the Creative Music Fund; Eve Clark, Design Manager for AMP Capital; and Hannah Tribe, founder and principal of Tribe Studio Architects.

When

Thursday 4 August

8am–9.30am, Doors open 7.30am

Where

Eternity Playhouse
(Darlinghurst Theatre)
39 Burton Street
Darlinghurst NSW

Cost

$10 + bf
Light breakfast, tea and coffee provided
Book your tickets here.

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