Architecture discovers the bleeding obvious

Comment: Architects realise something is wrong with cities

rmitJust read a short article about how an architect at the world architecture festival stated that something has gone wrong with the design of our cities!

Wow! Now there’s a revelation from the profession largely responsible for the problem.

I have for many years of observed how the profession of architecture works in Australia. The architectural profession is hindered in delivering real change largely by its close association and alliances with the property council and its many manifestation such as the Australian green building council, which is renowned for its green wash standards.

The architects and by that I mean its leaders through their national association, have for years delivered on the short-term agendas of the property and developer lobby. It has been a case of regulatory capture. The usual suspects within the architectural professions have positioned themselves successfully to be on so many advisory boards to represent the interests of achieving higher levels of good design to the public.

Sadly all is not well when you look at the outcomes of these representations for our cities.  Our cities have become very ugly.

The architectural professions have been captured by the commercial interests of the property development lobby. The only interests being served by their presence on such design panels and advisory boards are those of the developers and their partners, the architectural professions. Residents still have some small hope that the architectural professions are interested in the long-term interests of a civil society. There remain a small number of architecture professionals that are committed to such issues. Sadly for the majority including their national body, this is not the case.

And why not? Because the developers pay the bills and provide the work to these professionals. Therefore the architectural professionals are incapable of any serious leadership role in addressing the needs of the citizens, the requirements to deal with climate change and to ensure that public amenity is to the forefront in urban developments. Australian cities are getting very ugly.

CBD-P1050047

Melbourne for instance has many beautiful assets, parks, tree-lined streets and heritage architecture. However the CBD has become a glass and steel city that will deliver those extra degrees of temperature that will now come with the inevitable impacts of climate change.

Leadership is not about to come from these professionals. We need to re-think about how we use the democratic processes to have some visionary politicians elected to drive the changes required and to put a stop to all the damage being done to the urban landscapes in the name of good architecture (which it is not).

click here for the online piece

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Paul Costigan, 12 October 2014

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