The broad and open themes of ‘adaptation and regeneration’ defined the 2011 NZIA conference. These themes can apply equally to the evolution of a architectural practice as to the development of cities or to their reconstruction.
The earthquake of 22 February 2011 and the ongoing sequence of aftershocks will be remembered for the destruction of much of the built fabric of Christchurch. It is not completely clear, even now, several months after the initial event, quite how much has been lost forever. Whatever the implications finally are, it is very clear that the cost will be very high.
We are currently at a threshold in New Zealand. 2011 represents a point in the economic cycle where reconfiguration needs to occur before the next period of the growth and development of our cities. It is the right time to be having a discussion around the evolution of our design practice and our processes.
The post war fabric of New Zealand cities, particularly Christchurch, has been substantially affected by the work of Warren and Mahoney since 1956. The practice has had a continued fascination with the way that substantial materials are modelled, made and connected – concrete to steel, timber with glass.
The pace of change in the 21st century continues to increase with the world demanding for more knowledge and skills. We are moving into a world of seamless interconnection and full of complexity. Society is confronted with an evolving ‘learningscape’ where typically places of tertiary education have now been developed into a more hybrid and holistic model.
Architects learn from infancy to believe that we can legitimately apply our minds and our practice to the design of every element of the world we live in. Our peers in related design professions sometimes mistakenly interpret this as arrogance or worse, naivety, whereas we simply maintain the value of our design influence at every scale.
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