Design challenges are a new trend in Australia and the Australian capital, Canberra, is no exception.
The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is one of the first areas in the country to consider such challenges as an official design document for public buildings.
A concept called ‘House design challenges’ was created to identify the most innovative, aesthetically pleasing and technologically innovative home designs in Australia.
It has since been endorsed by the Government, the ACT Building and Housing Authority (ABHA), the ACT Government, and several other local governments.
In a press release announcing the release of the ‘House Design Challenges’ document, the Minister for the Environment, Water, Planning and Communities, Matt Canavan, said: “We’re excited about the concept of ‘House designs challenges’ and are looking forward to seeing it applied to Canberra’s historic buildings.”
The ‘House Designs Challenges’ concept was developed by architect and architecture student Tina Phelan, who is the principal designer of the new Canberra Design Gallery.
“It’s a very powerful tool to see how the way that architects have designed the past has affected the way we live today,” she told ABC Radio Canberra.
According to the concept, house design challenges were developed to inform the design process and to give local governments and local architects the opportunity to share their ideas for new buildings, particularly in relation to sustainability.
Phelan said the concept was a response to a call from the ACT government, the ABHA, and the ACT’s Department of the Environment and Water.
Ms Phelant said there was an urgent need for more local and regional governments to support a “design challenge” for Canberra’s iconic buildings.
“We’ve got this idea of a new, very exciting and vibrant building, but we don’t really know what that is,” she said.
She said the project would also serve as an opportunity to encourage architects to take a “more active role” in Canberra’s planning process, which was already “very heavily influenced by architects and other architects”.
“Architects and designers need to be more engaged with the planning process.”
Ms Phealan said she wanted the ‘house design challenges’-inspired document to “focus on what we really care about as architects”.
“We can all be involved, we’re all architects,” she continued.
I wanted to make sure we got the conversation around Canberra’s design, not just in Canberra, but around Canberra and beyond.
“I want to do this because it’s a huge opportunity to show how architects can really impact on our city’s design.”
Ms Canavan said the government had supported the ‘housing design challenges initiative’ and wanted to encourage local and national architects to “develop innovative ideas that are very relevant and are sustainable”.
“The government’s support has been really invaluable in helping to bring this concept to life,” he said.