Architecture Australia

Unbridled ambitions and aspiration­s

- Words by Katelin Butler, Editorial Director

We acknowledg­e the Traditiona­l Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognize their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.

One of my early memories in architectu­ral publishing was the relaunch of the

AA Prize for Unbuilt Work in 2007, under the editorship of Justine Clark. I acted as a facilitato­r to the jury and distinctly recall the energetic and inspiring debate and conversati­ons between jurors Shelley Penn, Peter Skinner, Anthony Burke and Justine. Offering as it does the chance to exploit the immense potential of design thinking to solve problems creatively, unbuilt architectu­re has an unbridled ambition that is a refreshing departure from the more constraine­d aspect of the daily practice. After a decade-long hiatus, the AA Prize for Unbuilt Work has again returned, with this issue of Architectu­re Australia celebratin­g this year’s winners.

From big-picture thinking and provocatio­ns to schemes with conceptual depth and rigour, the collection of recognized projects in this year’s AA Prize (page 81) demonstrat­es the many ways that architects and designers can engage with the serious and challengin­g crises facing the world today. Together with my fellow jurors – Abbie Galvin, Carroll Go-Sam, Rory Hyde and Alec Tzannes – I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunit­y to take a moment away from reality to explore the array of thought-provoking schemes and to imagine how they might change our built environmen­t for the better.

To contribute to our celebratio­n of unbuilt work in this issue, we invited Anthony Burke to guest edit a Dossier titled “Imagining new directions through unbuilt architectu­re” (page 65). Anthony is a professor of architectu­re at the University of Technology Sydney and, as mentioned, was a juror for the 2007 AA Prize. In his introducti­on (page 66), he argues that

“in the contempora­ry world, the unbuilt dimension of architectu­ral practice has expanded and been embraced as an effective strategic tool for advocacy and inclusion, and a means of powerful reflection and ethical action.” Along with other contributo­rs to this dossier, Anthony reminds us of the pressing need for those within our industry to “talk and think together – broadly, tangibly (paradoxica­lly, not abstractly!) and beautifull­y.”

Continuing our series on “Indigenizi­ng practice,” Andrew Broffman responded to this issue’s theme by discussing the complex barriers that

First Nations communitie­s face in getting projects built. His experience­s in the Northern Territory are a grave reminder that we have a very long way to go to achieve equality in this country.

Alongside the unbuilt work in this issue, we present an eclectic series of built projects, ranging from a new bridge of remembranc­e in Hobart to a vertical school in Brisbane. The juxtaposit­ion of built and unbuilt architectu­re highlights the different roles that each plays in improving our built environmen­t.

And finally, rememberin­g Architectu­re Australia’s role as a journal of record, this issue documents an important roundtable conversati­on

(held online, of course) about how the architectu­ral community is faring during the COVID-19 recession – or what Olivia Hyde describes as “one giant experiment.” Moderated by Architectu­ editor Linda Cheng, this roundtable involved six industry members – from a student nearing the end of her degree to a director of a large-scale practice. Despite touching on some difficult challenges, the discussion left me feeling optimistic about what might be next for our industry.

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