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Behind Creative Collision




Last week I flew over to Melbourne to attend architecture conferences run by our Australian counterparts. I attended Transform, a fringe event to the national architecture conference Material. Underscored by 'Altering the Future of Architecture', it was a fitting title that reflected the day's programme.

Transform architecture conference Melbourne equity
One of the many panel discussions.
Initially the conference was pitched to me as an event about gender equality. The primary instigator was Parlour (women, equity, architecture), so naturally the increasingly discussed topic of women in the workplace was at the forefront of the participant's minds. On top of this important equality discussion, the event was about the profession in general and the themes discussed were applicable to all, not just women.

The crux of the workshops and talks was,

"If architecture was more inclusive would it also be in a stronger position?"

It was a lot to think about within the space of a day, especially with the perpetual dialogue between various practitioners, academics, students and foreigners. Listening to various positions on the subject, engaging in workshop discussions and taking part in frenzied networking (also known as tea breaks) certainly gave a full bodied experience around the issue of transforming the status quo of the profession. Undoubtedly, everyone left the day with a more open mind about what 'architecture' as a profession is in the 21st century.

A formidable project taken on by the team at Parlour was to create a set of guidelines for work equity, a list of pressing issues for the workplace: pay equity, leadership, recruitment, mentorship, negotiation, long hours, part-time work, flexibility, career break and registration. The 'equity guidelines' that are at a draft stage at the moment (and are open to feedback so do leave a comment for the Parlour team) are specifically tailored to women in architecture, but are weighty food for thought for anyone in the industry - male or female, student, graduate or established practitioner, alike.

Round table discussion.
Any industry undergoes constant change but during the last decade the architectural profession appears to be breaking the mould a bit. The diversity of the career path in architecture was elaborated on via panelists talking about their approach, whether it be by branching out to other disciplines, different funding models or reinventing architecture as we know it. It was so good to have the discussion at such a scale for Australia/New Zealand.

This discussion will come to NZ in the form of Architecture Week 2013 - Architecture + Women NZ (A+W NZ) is holding a similar event – A+W NZ's core team was there at the conference, seeing how a similar event could be run here. There will be keynote speakers along with an exhibition and possibly a designed pavilion erected for the week. The visibility of the architectural profession, equity issues and the role of women in architecture will be the focus of the event. I'll let you know more as it develops.

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