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ArchiTeam celebrates 25 years

ArchiTeam celebrates 25 years


With Architeam – a membership association for Australian architects working in small, medium and emerging practices – gearing up to celebrate its silver jubilee later this month, we catch up with the organisation’s directors, Rosemary Ross and Barbara Moje, to get an idea of where Architeam started and where it’s heading.


ArchiTeam directors Rosemary Ross and Barbara Moje.

Starting out 25 years ago, mainly as a cooperative to help small and emerging architects secure effective insurance, how have the objectives of the organisation changed over this time?
The objectives have changed a lot. Although effective and low-cost PI (professional indemnity) insurance remains the reason that many architects join ArchiTeam, it is the sense of connection, networking and community (peer support) that means that many architects stay.

Compared to 1991, when ArchiTeam was established, how have the roles and responsibilities of independent architects, and the environment in which they work, changed?
The environment has changed hugely. Email, social media and ‘the image’ have become all pervasive and essential to how ArchiTeam connects to its members base. Electronic media has its advantages for us at ArchiTeam – it‘s easier now for groups to connect and there are more ways in which communication can occur. It is still evolving.

The professional environment has also become much more regulated since 1991, with the review of the Architects’ Act and CPD becoming ‘compulsory’ in Victoria. We now play an important role in helping our members keep informed at very affordable rates.

The fundamental role of independent architects, however, hasn’t changed at all. Creating quality buildings and providing a thorough service tailored to our specific clients’ needs will always be our core business.


2016 ArchiTeam Award winning project, Studio Garage, by Krisna Cheung. Photo by Wei Wei Chong.

Prosecuting the case for good design over more profit-led considerations is an ongoing challenge for architects. Do you feel it is getting easier? Are people more open to creative architecture? And, what work still needs to be done?
Yes, there is definitely a strong push towards better design and it is very encouraging for architects and other designers, however, there is also a strong pull of developer-driven profiteering to the detriment of the quality of the spaces created and the actual construction. Architects, unfortunately, are the meat in the sandwich here, as are quality builders – their margins get squeezed and they struggle to make profits to keep their businesses healthy.

From our point of view, the Victorian Government has made the first steps by addressing the standards of apartment design, but much more should be done at that level. ArchiTeam aims to advocate on behalf of architects on such issues. We also aim to educate the public about the value of using an architect, so people understand better what sets us apart from other services in the industry.

There is a tendency towards hand crafted and bespoke design at the moment, which works in our favour. Architects need to market themselves better. We are an important and necessary component in creating spaces and places, and that should be valued.

As a democratically-run organisation, how does ArchiTeam avoid the sort of in-fighting that has beset Australian political parties in recent years? With around 550 members, how challenging is it to plot a unified course?
ArchiTeam’s board is elected directly from our members base with the same basic motivation: to support architects and architecture. Being of a similar mindset, we work together well and really enjoy each other’s company and our shared aims. As a cooperative, we always welcome more people to get involved and keep the debate fresh. We have healthy debates, but we don’t need to fight with each other. We need each other for our work to benefit our members.

What are your main objective for the next 25 years?
To stay the course. To continue our focus on small- and medium-scale architecture practices and ensure that we provide the networking, learning and peer support opportunities to those architects. We are currently expanding to other states, so more architects Australia-wide can take advantage of our affordable services and the ever-growing network. This year we have started our advocacy group. Our members have asked us to spend more resources on advocacy for architects and architecture, so that will be a new emphasis for us.

What is ArchiTeam doing to celebrate its 25th anniversary?
We’re excited to be holding our first ever Conference – Small Practice in Community, which is focusing on how small and medium sized practices can work collaboratively and innovate in today’s environment. We have some really interesting speakers Kevin Mark Low from Small Projects in Malaysia (a sole practitioner/one-man-band who is also known as the ‘God of Small Things’), Melbourne’s Jeremy McLeod of Breathe Architecture (one of key people behind the Nightingale Project and The Commons) and Caroline Cole from the UK-based architectural consulting firm Colander. It will be a great day of networking, ideas and architecture.
After that, we’re heading off to celebrate our 25th birthday.

Main image of 2016 ArchiTeam Awards opening night – Emily Bartlett

Read more about ArchiTeam here.


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