Unbridled ambitions and aspirations
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 ArchitectureAU.com 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.