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‘Good design’ drives growth and community benefits

Australia’s peak body for architecture has put forward a number of recommendations to the Federal Parliament’s Select Committee on Regional Australia, calling for communities to partner with architects to create “quality public spaces”.

The Australian Institute of Architects national president, Helen Lochhead, told the Committee’s Inquiry into Regional Australia that governments could “use the power of good design” to create a sense of community and local identity, and to increase local investment.

“Regional Australia is home to some of Australia’s best public buildings, cultural and community facilities with a growing body of projects demonstrating the lasting benefits of good design in practice,” said Professor Lochhead.

“From the award-winning Bendigo Hospital development to the East Pilbara Arts Centre, our regions offer tremendous opportunity for healthy, resilient placemaking.”

The submission highlighted the need for community engagement in such civil projects to ensure public spaces respond to the local context.

“Architects have a key role to play when governments seek to deliver place-based infrastructure and community facilities,” Professor Lochhead said.

“Their design expertise improves liveability, which in turn creates places that become centres of social and economic activity for communities and maximises the long-term return on government investment.”

The Institute also called for architects to partner with local communities and council to “leverage state and federal grants programs” to attract investment in regional areas, as well as asking governments to have higher standards for a building’s environmental credentials.

“We are also calling for higher standards for the energy performance of buildings and planning for a net zero carbon future with sustainability, functionality and longevity as imperatives for all projects.

“Government at all levels must lead by example by only purchasing architectural design services that deliver mitigation and adaptation strategies to address climate challenges in the built environment. This is of particular importance for regional communities vulnerable to more extreme weather and climate impacts,” Professor Lochhead said.

The Committee was launched in September 2019 to look into regional Australia’s contribution to the national landscape, as well as to probe the effectiveness of existing program that develop and support regional areas.

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