Sometimes the monotony that ensues with the mundane yet important menial tasks, which are rudimentary to every architectural office or practice studio, always appear to somehow feel more domineering, daunting or stressful than they should be.

I know that there are days where I get caught up in the stresses and humdrum aspects of practice life. But it is moments, such as the instrumental Architecture Asia Pacific Symposium that has been held in Brisbane over the last two years, that so effortlessly reminds us, about the satiating and influential nature of architecture. The Architecture AP Symposium (as it is referred), again hosted a great forum for all local, national and international architects to commend, reflect and share the hard work, incredible changes, and influential stories, that are both present and shaping the Asia Pacific region.

The 2017 speaker line-up provided a great insight into the myriad of paths and unconventional journeys, which architecture can lead you on, throughout various milestones in your career. The representatives of each firm ranged from well known and large scale studios, all the way through to, smaller up-and-coming emerging architecture firms, all located across the Asia Pacific region.

Of the nine architectural studios that presented on the day, there were several humbling moments, specifically of the work that architects such as Milinda Pathiraja of Robust Architecture Workshop, Stephen Collier (Architects) and Shigeru Ban (Architects), were undertaking in Sri Lanka, PNG, and for the UN (across the globe), respectively. The work they chose to present at the symposium, spoke about architecture as a social tool to empower those less fortunate; unable to empower or upskill themselves.

Thus the juxtaposition of what architecture is and what architecture means in a western developed country is sometimes forgotten, as this notion is inconceivably different to the notion of architecture in developing nations (and countries) across the Asia Pacific.

It was deeply touching to know the rewarding aspects in architecture that reach far beyond just the outcome of a beautifully-detailed and well-thought out building for a magazine or portfolio piece. That the process of architecture (and construction), has the ability to upskill and educate locals with construction knowledge, which was reinstated by applying both a fundamental understanding of local materials, traditional building techniques, contextual site constraints specific to the areas, but additionally with the advancements of technology.

Therefore, due to the many facets of which architecture can be a catalyst, this idea that art and science combine in the world of architecture, is still a fundamental ethos driving many designers (and firms); in a world currently rich in technological advancements. Architecture as a device for innovation, was another topic that was weaving its way through majority of presentations like OBBA, Spark Architects, Warren and Mahoney, but particularly so of Thailand based firm; thingsmatter.

Experimenting, challenging and being able to convince the wider population of innovative ideas and techniques is not an easy task.

But Tom and Savinee (of thingsmatter) made it look so effortless and above all, most inspiring. Armed with a knowledge grounded in installation/exhibition works, they were able to push the realistic and functional boundaries of conventional living, in these conditioned (exhibition hall) spaces; uninhibited by usual building complications i.e. such as weatherproofing. By being able to construct 1:1 prototypes, which visitors (to the expos) were able to interact with and walk though, this model displayed unprecedented levels of interest; which goes to show the open-mindedness of the public. As designers, this notion should not be taken lightly but a discovery that should be at the forethought, for as many projects in which the client is liberal in their thinking and willing to take on such risk.

Not to discount the works of the other presenters at the Symposium, not mentioned in detail (above); the works of other larger firms such as DCM and Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners. They too presented a respective insight into their firm’s early beginnings, however it was more specifically a reflection on the projects that were pinnacle to the business’ success which all had groundings in projects conceived in the Asia Pacific region.

A reassuring fact to know is that Australia’s architectural positioning in the Asia Pacific region is one which sets us apart from our Americas and European counterparts.

Photo credit:
Ivan Harbour of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners. Photo by Dianna Snape.
Milinda Pathiraja of Robust Architecture Workshop.
Personal Space by Thingsmatter.
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