Kim Crestani; The Pod System
Peter Mould; The Role - and Limitations - of a Government Architect
Rod Simpson; Pulling It Together: Architecture at City Scale
Dr Geoff Gallup AC; From the Cabinet Table; How Governments Make Decisions (and How To Influence)
AGENCY2017 seeks to reveal the skills, tools and mindsets required by a new generation of architects empowered to create social impact. But to make change, We must first understand how change is made - and how that’s changing.
Political leaders from all sides are seeking to reduce escalating future costs by reducing the size and scale where public interest has traditionally been served. Arguably, the ability for the public sector to respond is in peril; locked in to applying one-size-fits-all policy to hyper-local issues in an economy whose geography is seemingly at odds with climate, environment with agriculture; fuelled by a splintering of traditional political parties chasing an increasingly disengaged electorate.
At the same time, social technologies are connecting communities more intuitively - enabling broad, purpose-driven coalitions around local issues they believe in (the re-birth of Jane Jacobs as a reader for communities; pop up and tactical urbanism). Top-down is shedding while bottom-up is still forming. Left and right politics is fracturing. And yet the mechanics of the middle are missing. Is this where the agency of professionals is needed most? and is it relevant that a 2016 paper by the ARB argued that engaging citizens more effectively seems a skill-set elusive to many architects?
In July 2016, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan noted that architects had all but disappeared from roles advising government; reducing from 50% in of the public sector, the 1970s to around 1% in 2017. At the same time, the role these architects play has changed - moving from project office and Clerks of Works to strategic advisors in the room as positions are argued and policy is formed. Is the public interest served by a well detailed signal box when billions of dollars are invested in new schools, and transport infrastructure that are scoped, budgeted and delivered with no advice on design or delivery? How many policies, programs and projects related to housing, land use or pubic space are drafted without the spatial intelligence or data sources native to architectural experience? Is external advocacy and activism alone an effective tool to make change, or are experts needed as options are explored in the high-risk game of politics and public policy? Or are we the problem; allowing the perfect to be the enemy of the good? Do we really have the means to make an impact?
Hear how the rules of the game are changing. Hear from those who have been in the room as the imperfect art of politics has played out as they share insights into the dark matter that gives shape to education, planning and regulation policy. This is strictly Chatham house rules.