The winner of the Australian Institute of Architects’ 2015 Gold Medal, Peter Stutchbury recently began his Gold Medal Tour in Newcastle on 28 July.
Following the commencement of the 2015 Australian Institute of Architects Gold Medal Tour, which will take him to each state and territory across the country, Peter Stutchbury shared his thoughts with BlueScope about the current state of architecture, his philosophies and the importance of leveraging his awards to engender social change.
On receiving the highest individual honour awarded by the Institute, Stutchbury said he was ‘definitely surprised but also immediately honoured’, particularly because of the Award’s history and past Gold Medallists whom he held in very high regard for their contributions to architecture and society. Though the Award represents an individual honour, he believes it has been given for a body of work, thinking and behaviour that is inclusive of all the people who have worked with him including his colleagues.
Stutchbury also received the 2015 Wilkinson Award for Residential Architecture - New Houses for his Light House project, which he thinks is a tribute to a great team.
Given that the Gold Medal recognises contributions to society through architecture, he agrees that the Gold Medal Tour is a means to share his experience, champion important issues, and be heard.
Stutchbury believes the public voice of the architect in society is diminished today. He recalled when he was a new graduate, Harry Seidler was in the paper every other day making social commentary about projects or behaviour. However, meaningful comments from architects in the media are rarer these days, which he attributes to society becoming fiscally orientated to such an extent that it manages thinking. He will, therefore, use the AIA tour to speak about their role as commentators in society and their social responsibilities, which aren’t discussed enough.
He intends to talk about fundamentals that everyone can appreciate and understand. He explains that architects are long-term planners because they have to think about how buildings perform over time. Architects also have a lot of behavioural and mechanical understanding and even policy understanding but are not used well-enough as policy influencers. He believes if the Premier and Prime Minister had a group of aesthetic advisors made up of architects, artists and inventors, the country would be more balanced and better prepared for the unknown.
Stutchbury also touched upon some of the positives in the industry, especially the colleagueship that occurs between architects once they reach a certain age, which is rare in other professions such as lawyers and bankers. He observes there is more support than competitiveness within the profession in Australia.
Though there is a group of top-echelon Australian architects who produce very interesting work, and Australian architects rank highly in terms of creativity, Stutchbury thinks it’s a shame it is not acknowledged by the country. He notes that even the media doesn’t give due coverage to one of the country’s most remarkable professions.
On his affinity for steel in his designs, he said that it came from his father who was an engineer and made power stations out of steel. He learnt everything he needed to about timber from his uncles who were builders. Though he is comfortable with timber and concrete, steel is his material of understanding, both from technical and aesthetical perspectives.
2015 Gold Medal Tour Dates:
28 July - Newcastle
25 August - Sydney
26 August - Melbourne
27 August - Hobart
7 October - Canberra
8 October - Perth
9 October - Adelaide
13 October - Brisbane
14 October - Darwin
19 November - Sydney (AS Hook Address)
Ticket and event details can be accessed on http://architecture.com.au/events/national/events.
BlueScope is the proud sponsor of the 2015 AIA Gold Medal Tour.