I know it’s been a couple weeks since the congress, and I only finished writing each day’s log, but now I just want to do a small wrap up post. I’ve been “involved” in the congress since mid last year when asked by the creative directors to be on the committee and it was great to see it all unfold and all the hard-work everyone did pay off. The congress was about people, how people form architecture, and throughout the three days this became quite clear through the speakers, workshops but also the unplanned interactions.
Several speakers left their mark on my brain, from Jeremy McLeod telling us not to design something if we wouldn’t live in it ourselves to Sean Godsell saying he is still a student and will never stop learning. I was incredibly moved by the two Pauls and the state of indigenous housing and overseas, and just how much of an impact a toilet and shower has to quality of life. Listening to Troppo and Tone Wheeler talk true sustainability which goes beyond solar panels and a water tank got me thinking. Then there was Takaharu Tezuka speaking so passionately about his family and his approach to his architecture.
The workshop on the second day was quite the challenge to say the least, really putting me out of my comfort zone. Where typically I’d go away and spend hours/days on an idea and diagrams, Jeremy McLeod gave us 3-5 minutes to brainstorm and sketch some diagrams, quick thinking with simple diagrams were the goals. I’ve never really done any quick-thinking exercises like that before but something I’ll take with me to future studios/projects.
Having the congress at three different venues over the three days was a brilliant idea and really help ‘show off’ Melbourne to those visiting for the first time, or even 25th. Deakin Edge at Federation Square, RMIT’s Storey Hall and University of Melbourne’s School of Design were great choices, each having it’s own atmosphere. Yes of course Melbourne was typical in its weather, showing some sun but also rain and some nice chilly weather.
I not only caught up with quite a few familiar faces but made friends with strangers, granted I was drunk when I at my most friendliest. I was also able to chat to and connect with architects locally and around the world, something which I never thought I would do when I was in my second year at TAFE (or third, or even first year at university).
I think what was most valuable about the whole experience was the architectural dialogue, the ideas shared but also the experiences outside the lecture theatres. It can’t be pinpointed to one aspect, as the whole appeal of the congress wasn’t just the speakers, or the theme, or the workshop, or the parties, it was all of them intertwining together. While I did get a free ticket to this event (as I was tweeting for the Institute throughout), I think even for poor university students the $350 or so for a ticket is more than worth it.
I have already starting saving for 2017’s congress, Agency, in Sydney. After attending this one I think I’ll be attending every congress and going to get my butt along to the national conferences each year (if I am not COMPLETELY broke!) and I implore any student reading this to do the same. Whichever country you’re in, go to your student conferences, you will hear from speakers around the world and even get an opportunity to chat to them (they don’t bite!), network with other students around the country and have a bit of fun of an evening, just be sure to check the train timetables.