2012 has been a year where the design industry both locally and abroad, has increasingly recognised the issues of equity and equality for women. In response to this issue, Australian Architecture Association volunteer Vanessa Couzens, proposed a short series of talks that focused on the achievements of some of the women working in the design and architecture community based in Sydney. Last month saw the launch of Women: Take On Design at Object: Australian Centre for Design in Surry Hills.
The first talk on Wednesday 18 July presented the work of Lucy Humphries and Claire McCaughan of Archrival. These two young architects are spearheading a revolution in the approach to design practice, proposing that collaboration and letting go of ideas about individual ‘authorship' is a direction that new design practices can embrace to create individual and relevant projects for the public. Their unique approach to design has been recognised by an invitation to contribute an installation to the Venice Architecture Biennale, which this year is themed ‘Common Ground' and takes place in Italy from 29 August to 25 November 2012.
Claire and Lucy began their talk with an overview of their individual installations completed before forming Archrival. They then showcased some of the collaborative projects they have co-ordinated such as Eleventh Hour, an installation at Carriageworks developed for the Sydney Fringe Festival 2011 and Concrete Colony an installation at the Keystone Bar Hyde Park Barracks for the Sydney Festival 2012.
They concluded their talk with an explanation about the thinking behind their submission for the ‘Formations' exhibition in the Australian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. Entitled Arena Calcetto, the work seeks to draw together collaborators using a playful theme based on fussball (the tabletop game and sport). Archrival proposed that a series of architectural structures enclose fussball tables with the fabrication of it's elements involving a variety of people. Playing also on their organisations name they have invited rivalry between biennale participants forming teams for their countries!
I think all attendees would agree that Archrival's talk inspired us to think a little more laterally about design and how architectural thought can create temporary spaces that challenge our perceptions and are functional at the same time.
Talk 2 of Women: Take On Design took place on Wednesday 25 July and featured the architect Caroline Pidcock. Caroline is an award winning architect and has run her own practice PIDCOCK - Architecture and Sustainability, since 1992. Inspired by The Climate Project, Al Gore's Climate Change Leadership Program, Caroline has taken up the challenge and is dedicated to the design of zero emissions housing.
Caroline's talk focused on an approach to design based on the International Living Future Institute‘s ‘Living Building Challenge'. The living building challenge is a combination of philosophy, advocacy and certification program. While there are already organisations such as the Green Building Council and certification schemes such as Green Star, LEEDs and BREEAM, that have been advancing the sustainable building culture, the Living Building Challenge seeks to take environmentally sustainable buildings a step further.
Caroline gave an overview in her talk of the tenants of the challenge, which is represented thematically by the petals of a flower. Each petal represents seven performance areas: Site, Water, Energy, Health, Materials, Equity and Beauty. These are subdivided into a total of twenty Imperatives, each of which focuses on a specific sphere of influence.
Ultimately the Living Building Challenge provides a framework for design, construction and the symbiotic relationship between people and all aspects of the built environment.
Caroline concluded her talk with some examples of her past work and an overview of a project she is currently developing in Taree where she is applying the tenants of the Living Building Challenge and plans to attain certification by the Living Future Institute.
If you are interested in learning more about the Living Building Challenge you can attend free public lectures by Jason F. McLennan of the Living Future Institute in Perth, Wednesday 22 August, Adelaide, Friday 24 August, Melbourne, Monday 27 August and Sydney, Wednesday 29 August 2012. Click on www.livingbuildingchallenge.org.countries/australia to register for a lecture.
Caroline Pidcock presented attendees with an alternative more holistic approach to the design of our built environment. It will be very interesting to see how this environmental movement will impact positively on our lives.
The Australian Architecture Association would like to thank Caroline Pidcock, Lucy Humphries and Claire McCaughan for contributing to the Women: Take On Design Talks Series. Their presentations were very inspirational and highlight how important it is to celebrate the achievements and future of women working within design.
Article: Vanessa Couzens
Photographs: Soo Kim and Vincent Lam
Images from Talks: Provided by Caroline Pidcock and Archrival