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Project to Practice: Innovating Architecture AASA 9th International Conference, 2016

Image: The Optics of Weather Pavillion at UTS 2016, Invitation intensive with MODU (NY); Photographer Daisy Zheng

Tuesday September 13, 2016

/ Directors Statement

With recent Australian Government policy announcements, innovation has formally now been identified as a national priority. This has occurred through considerable pressure from the business sector over recent years who have become frustrated with Australia’s reliance on a now tempered resources boom. As our economy prepares for a post resources future, creating opportunities for innovation in Australian business is driving government policy on many fronts with increasing urgency.

The recent demise of the Australian car manufacturing industries is one of a constellation of reminders that traditional industries are under threat. This however does not necessarily herald a shift to a more service-based economy either, with some commentators suggesting that over 70% of Australia’s service based industries – those that would otherwise be likely to make the most impact in a restructured economy – are in danger of technologisation within the next decade.

Anyone involved in architectural practice over the past two decades will understand this already. Downward pressure on fees, reductions in scope and a struggle to articulate the value of services in a market now flush with secondary management roles have served to challenge the viability of business models forged in the early 20th century. Innovation has subsequently arisen in many practices as a catchcry or branding strategy and an attempt at market differentiation. Yet innovation is a surprisingly misunderstood and most certainly overused and abused term, not unlike sustainability before it. We therefore regularly witness a conflation of novelty and innovation and as a result are left with few visible examples of innovation at work that, as a discipline, we can learn from.

The Australian Innovation System defines innovation as; “…the implementation of a new or significantly improved product (good or service), process, new marketing method or a new organisational method in business practices, workplace organisation or external relations.” That the practice of architecture will be effected by these large shifts to the economy, workplace and education is a certainty. However the potential of innovation agendas to alter the very disciplinarity of architecture is less clear. This conference seeks to explore points of view on innovation and its many forms across the discipline, and correspondingly how those changes are propelling new conceptualisations of projects and practice, and driving the restructuring of the education of the architect as a consequence.

The conference will take place at The School of Architecture at the University of Technology Sydney on the 30th September – 1st October 2016. The timing coincides with a program of events around the Sydney Architecture Festival and World Architecture Day, taking place across Sydney. A link to the full events program as well as key note speakers will be posted shortly.

The 2016 AASA conference therefore proposes an examination of the relationship of architecture to our future innovation economy and context.

A priority for the conference is to explore which areas of innovation, i.e., products (goods or services), processes, R&D and so on, are native to architectural practice, process and education and which are areas of economic, cultural and disciplinary opportunity for future Architectural practices.

Contributions to the conference linking academic and professional perspectives are particularly welcome. Critical reflections on innovation, histories and theories and their relation to Architecture are also welcome. Aimed at understanding the context of innovation for architectural practice and education now, the conference seeks to create a critical benchmark from which to address the extent of structural change that may be required, or may already be happening, across the discipline.

More information on the call for academic papers and projects go to http://utsarchitecture.net/AASA2016/
Or contacting the conference organising team at; innovationarchitecture@uts.edu.au

Hosted by the School of Architecture at the University of Technology Sydney and the NSW Architects Registration Board
Conference Directors: Prof Gerard Reinmuth, Timothy Horton, Prof Anthony Burke;
Venue: University of Technology Sydney
Dates: 30 September and 1st October, 2016