The third, and final, day of the congress, I was quite excited to hear a couple architects talk and find out where I was heading in 2017 for the next congress. The third venue for the congress was the new Melbourne School of Design building (how old does a building need to be before you stop calling it new?) at the University of Melbourne. I didn’t pack a suitcase, and I caught the intended train, so the day was off to a great start.
Des Rogers was the first speaker for the day on the topic of “More than a landlord” and certainly gained the attention of the audience. He produced a bell, and whenever he would ring it the audience would go ‘ahhhhhhh’. I think some people may not have appreciated the ringing noise as there were apparently some beverages flowing the previous night, so no doubt a few sore heads. Despite not having any slides, Rogers had a very engaging presentation about Aboriginal housing, informing us that bad housing can create diseases doctors can’t cure. Anna Rubbo was next to speak, providing some thought provoking questions such as “Architectural education tends to ignore inequality, true or false?” Rubbo went on to talk about equality in urban areas, and how hands on engagement is a great way to promote equality in these areas.
After the Q&A session it was time for the pitches for the 2017 Congress, with Hobart, New Zealand and Sydney putting in bids. Out of the three, I think Sydney had the better pitch and theme. It would be cool to go to New Zealand for a congress, or even Hobart, not to mention loving Melbourne means despising Sydney. However we needed to vote, and I voted for Sydney purely for their theme.
After a quick break which involved stealing a free book from the SONA pop-up stall, it was time to listen to Lucy Humphrey from Archrival speak. She spoke about her two ventures, mainly focusing on Archrival explaining how rivalry can be healthy, such as what is seen in sport. She shared some notable projects of her, along with her manifesto which included “always adopt moonshot thinking“, “always be strategic“, “always recognise small scale actions catalyse change” and “always question your manifesto“. She also had two important points in her manifesto, “don’t participate in unproductive rivalry” and “don’t work for free“. Of course she broke that last one but explained her reasoning. After Lucy Humphre, Laurent Gutierrez took front and centre followed by some Q&A.
It was now lunch time and we put a call-to-action out to anyone who could see it, we wanted to go buy blue shirts to welcome Takaharu Tezuka. Making our way across the city, we scouted the right blue shirt. Some were too light, too dark, wrong style, right colour but wrong fabric, time was ticking so we decided on a shirt. Having a role to do, I had to leave the group behind to get back to the congress as Troppo was going to be speaking in 10 minutes.
Having arrived 5 minutes late, I entered to see all these beer bottles with people 2015 holders, and majority of the audience casually sipping away. Those that know me, I don’t enjoy beer, but I did enjoy the stubby-holder so I grabbed myself a beer…. Only to not open it. Beer aside, Troppo had a wonderful presentation. One thing they mentioned was how bogus the energy rating system in the Northern Territory is, where their houses would open receive a 0 star rating. “Esky houses” however (insulated, air-conditioned boxes) would be 6 stars, yet Troppo would win sustainability awards.
After Riccardo Vannucci spoke, Tone Wheeler took the stage taking us through some of his projects and the philosophy behind them. His belief that sustainability goes beyond solar panels and water tanks and that even during construction he aims to have clean work sites as “…it’s important we don’t pollute the site with our buildings“. A lot of his projects were also free from ‘ceiling acne’, ie downlights and often would opt for up-lighting. He also has a very mobile approach to his architecture, where he stated “Every kitchen needs to be movable so you can wake up and cook a steak.”
After a short break which involved going topless in order to clad myself in blue, we were ready for the final speaker, Takaharu Tezuka. A few days prior I listened to one of his TED Talks so I was excited to hear him speak. The group of us in blue sat together, trying to draw his attention while he waited to begin. However each time he walked past, we began to believe we upset him, however right before he started his acknowledged us and gave us a smile.
He spoke about his family, and how everything he does in architecture is based on experience he has gained in his life, not necessarily from architecture. A lot of the design into Fuji Kindergarten came from his experience has a father of two children, along with the other educational buildings. Cracking the audience up with plenty of jokes, he showed us more projects including a beautiful church which such atmospheric light you couldn’t help but be moved by it. He finished off his session with some Q&A, giving away monograms to those with good questions. Needless to say to I was/am jealous of those who got the books!
The winning bid for the 2017 congress was announced, with Sydney voted as the winner. There was a wrap up by two MC’s, talking about the theme, the speakers and the history (and future) of the congress. Finally, the three creative directors gave their thanks and closed the congress. There were some closing drinks but being poor I had to decline and make my way home. I was exhausted, so much went through my brain but it was a great experience, not to mention I got a photo with Takaharu Tezuka!
See you all in Sydney for #agency2017