New AIA president calls for a government architect in Canberra

6 July 2011 – The new national president of the Australian Institute of Architects, Brian Zulaikha  has called for a government architect position to be established in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.The Sydney-based architect, who is committed to sustainability is a founding partner of award-winning architectural practice Tonkin Zulaikha Greer,

He said that he will focus during his term as president on sustainable communities, cities and architecture and influencing planning reform throughout Australia by:

  • Helping deliver quality architecture and a sustainable built environment.
  • Fostering links with other architectural organisations working within Australia and offshore, in particular setting up a formal relationship with Emergency Architects Australia; and
  • Promoting art and architecture, and how they can work together to enrich culture and quality of life.

Sustainable cities had become a catchcry for the 21st Century and the Institute was well placed to make them more than a slogan, he said in a statement.

“Urban density is one of the most important aspects of planning for sustainability.

“We need to consolidate our cities and preserve the green belts that support valuable agriculture and provide containment lines. We must be able to get in and out of cities quickly.

“Adaptive reuse is another tool in sustainable urban design. I don’t believe in demolition. We need to approach projects with a view of what we can keep rather than starting from scratch. Adaptive reuse conserves resources and adds meaning to contemporary architecture.

“Similarly combining and art and architecture can add value and meaning in the built world. I am keen to see a greater bond between these  two disciplines.

“This year, the Institute will continue to work collaboratively to improve the quality of our urban spaces, both aesthetically and in terms of
liveability.

“Our membership and leading role with the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council is a key strategy for addressing the environmental and ecological issues now facing our industry.

“ASBEC is working with the three levels of government to produce a prioritised action agenda for the future.

“As extreme weather events and natural disasters escalate, the institute is looking to establish a formal relationship with Emergency Architects, Australia

“This not-for-profit organisation provides disaster assistance throughout Australasia and the Pacific region  from damage assessment to reconstruction.

“There is growing recognition of the role of the built environment in delivering quality of life, and accordingly greater recognition of the profession of architecture in shaping a positive future for Australians, “ he said.

Mr Zulaikha has been involved in several projects that have successfully delivered new futures to heritage sites while embracing the sites’ original fabric.

His best-known works include the CarriageWorks Performing Arts Centre, which transformed the 1888 former carriage workshops at Eveleigh into one of Sydney’s most innovative art and community centres.

Combining an interest in integrating art and architecture, Mr Zulaikha was president of the NSW Chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects from  2009-2011, chairman of the board of directors of the Performance Space from  1989-1996, and served on the board at Artbank from 1993-1995.

Mr Zulaikha gained his Bachelor of Architecture at the University of Sydney. Before establishing Tonkin Zulaikha Greer in 1987, he honed his skills in managing complex projects with the Singapore Superior Courts Complex, the design and documentation of a number of high-rise office buildings, and the design management of the bicentennial refurbishment of Sydney’s Circular Quay.

Mr Zulaikha and Tonkin Zulaikha Greer were Sydney pioneers of sustainable design with the Affordable Housing Complex in Ultimo, receiving the Australian Institute of Architects National Environment Award in 1996.

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