In 2013, Architects for Peace celebrated a whole decade in existence! The steering committee was made up of:
Beatriz Maturana - Vice President
Kamil Muhammad – Public officer
Katherine Sampson – Secretary
Edith Wong – Treasurer
Peter Johns – General member
Soledad Maldonado – General member
Eleanor Chapman – President
A new volunteers session was held in April 2013 at the 1:1 basement space in Niagara Lane. Thanks due to David Nock, 1:1 director, for allowing us access to the space. We received a good response to the invitation, with 18 people attending. Numbers were capped due to the size of the venue and structure of the night, meaning some interested individuals were not able to attend on the night. Some observations:
- Most interest among students (mostly architecture)
- No attendees were yet members of A4P (suggesting most were alerted through Facebook or university mailing list circulation)
- Majority interested in pro bono (followed by words) possibly suggesting that perceived 'hands-on' activities are of most interest.
- Limited attendance of general follow up social event (held at a CBD bar)
Of those who attended, five have become actively involved, including some involved in the news team, and the following active members of the words and pro bono teams: Akemi Traill (pro bono and words), Anne-Claire Deville (words), Farah Rohzan (words), Khaliesa Soffiee (words), Yousuf Karimi (words)
Pro bono service
Team: Pauline Ng, Soledad Maldonado, Katherine Sampson, Akemi Traill, Zin Mee, Nicole Mechkaroff, Glenda Yiu
In March 2013, for the first time, an international team of architects was appointed to undertake a pro bono project based in Uganda: the Ligingi Community Centre. The Melbourne based team Some Kind of Studio, made up of Charity Edwards, Leila Allbrook and Jessica Black, opted to team up with Kenya-based architect Charles Newman) and have been working with Dennis and Anna of the LCLC to develop a design proposal. The pro bono group has lost some momentum due to sporadic meetings, a continuing trend from last year, and in part due to the democratic, effectively leaderless, structure of the group. Last year, a plan was made to expand our reach to target more communities in need, through a multi-pronged approach of promotion, research and evaluation. Some preliminary research has begun in this regard.
Team: Mary Ann Jackson, Farah Dakkak, Dina Bacvic, Akemi Traill, Anne-Claire Deville, Farah Rohzan, Khaliesa Soffiee, Yousuf Karimi, Nicole Mechkaroff
The words series benefited from a new lease on life this year, with new team members and the move to the Centre for Cultural Partnerships. Dr James Oliver at the CCP has been a valued collaborator and the theme of 'spatial justice' was an effective way to frame the discussion. There were 7 events this year:
- Peace of Wall - Chris Parkinson
- Occupy – Spike Chiappalone, Victoria Stead, Lachlan Rhodes, Andy Dawson
- Creative Suburbs - Alvaro Maz
- Asylum seekers and representation - Steve Thomas
- Creative Resistance: conflict, occupation and contemporary artistic expression in the Middle East with Sary Zananiri, Firas and Nora Massouh and Rachel Busbridge
- The tyranny of (in)accessibility: perspectives from Australia and Papua New Guinea with Carolyn Whitzman, Dennis Hogan, Ralph Green
- Space for Dissent – Alison Caddick, Jennifer Podesta, Jacinta Parsons, Guy Abrahams, David Vakalis (absent due to illness)
Recording/tracking attendance and online publication of video/audio files could still be improved – we missed access to recording facilities at the CCP. Other difficulties included being geographically removed from the CBD, lack of control over security and room booking arrangements and a formal atmosphere to the space that was quite different to RMIT bldg 50. On the other hand, the change in venue has opened the series to new channels for speakers and attendees and expanded the A4P network.
The arrangement with the CCP was a year-long experiment and we understand it may not be ongoing in 2014, which gives us the opportunity to explore other possibilities. One option is the Arena magazine project space in Fitzroy. Another idea that has been discussed is a 'nomadic' series of events in various public spaces, which could be an opportunity to open the discussion to a wider public.
News and editorials
We have exceeded 11,000 facebook friends so far (for what it's worth!). Editorials and newsletters have been quite sporadic however. There is a sense that the facebook page has taken over from the website in terms of interactivity, which is problematic, as it is a medium dominated by advertising and payment-driven promotion, and allows us no control over presenting information in a hierarchy.
Collaboration and connections
The possibility of a4p members putting forward individual initiatives/projects to be run under the Architects for Peace umbrella, which was broadly supported in 2011 and occurred to a degree through Kamil's project Fatin Historico in East Timor, has still yet to be fully explored. Could we see this in 2014? The relationship with the CCP has been a good one, and we participated in the CCP's Creative Time summit satellite event at Federation Square in October. It would be good to maintain this connection even without the talk series hook.
We were approached by some young architects who are planning to establish an AfH chapter in Melbourne. They have arranged a roundtable discussion on Saturday 30 November for selected local public interest/architecture groups. This should be a good opportunity to touch base with our colleagues and update our knowledge of what everyone else is doing, of interest particularly in light of reviewing our strategic direction.
Eleanor made contact with Trenton Oldfield of This Is Not a Gateway in August. There seems to be much in common with their Critical Cities series and annual conference/festival. Perhaps A4P could consider a contribution or satellite event in 2014.
Beatriz is now based at Instituto de la Vivienda (Institute of Housing) at the University of Chile, where she is spreading the word about A4P. There is interest in starting up a connected group in Chile and details of how this might work need to be discussed. The possibility of a joint Melbourne/Santiago conference was flagged last year but has not progressed. We look forward to seeing Beatriz briefly in Melbourne in January!
Thanks are due to our supporters, including Architeam, Visionary Design Development (especially Mary Ann Jackson and Ralph Green for their tireless support, and provision of a meeting place at the VDD office this year) and the Centre for Cultural Partnerships (especially James Oliver), to those who spoke at words@bldg50 and to our pro bono architects, particularly SKOS (Leila Allbrook, Jessica Black and Charity Edwards) and Charles Newman.
Plans for 2014 – rethinking our strategic direction
This year, we will be giving some serious thought to how best to continue to promote social justice in the built environment professions. After a decade in existence, a strategic planning exercise is well overdue for our organisation. In 2014, we plan to limit our public activities so as to focus primarily on reviewing and interrogating the A4P framework and legacy with a view to a strategic transformation: clarifying what we are about, holding onto what is important to us, letting go of what is not and working out where we want to go. We hope this exercise will deliver a renewed focus and relevance to our work. It will be an opportunity for those who have been active to help shape the organisation that they want to be part of in the future, and enable us to welcome new members with confidence. It's an exciting prospect, and we would like to offer as many of our members and supporters as possible the opportunity to contribute their feedback and opinions as we seek the best way forward. We are yet to determine how this will play out and more details will follow once they have taken shape.
Thank you for your support last year. In 2014, I will be continuing as president, and A4P will be led by the following steering committee (including a few old hands and some fresh blood!) as nominated at our Annual General Meeting:
Beatriz Maturana – Vice President
Katherine Sampson – Secretary
Anthony McInneny – Public officer
Edith Wong – Treasurer
Targol Khorram – General member
Nicole Mechkaroff – General member
Akemi Traill – General member
Eleanor Chapman Architects for Peace President, 2013