Lately I have heard a growing call for the establishment of an institute of urban design. I could think of no more damaging outcome than if such an institute were set up, yet another exclusive “club”, yet another barrier to integration, yet another reason to adopt the “them” and “us” mindset.
Within the current institutes themselves urban design is often the poor cousin, seen as a “tack-on” rather than a way of thinking about and making places. Many of us who believe strongly in integrated processes, and “joined up thinking” to achieve integrated mixed use development outcomes have chosen to remain outside of these institutes, for no other reason than belonging to one particular club doesn’t seem to make sense in terms of trying to remain a “specialist generalist”, and belonging to all possible institutes would be, quite frankly, exhausting. All that cheese and wine!
The report about the Hobart waterfront design competition in the September issue of Urban Design Forum reminded me of an area of growing frustration. The competition, like many others, is limited to members of professional institutions. This excludes those who wish to remain outside the professional institutes, for reasons set out above.
Correspondence and discussion with the organisers of this competition was held to establish whether or not the requirement to be a member of an institute could be waived given that one was professionally qualified as both an architect and urban designer. Unfortunately, this was not possible.
I find it interesting that Paul Lennon quotes the Sydney Opera House as a precedent for the Hobart competition, and yet I am certain that Jorn Utson was not required to be a member of the New South Wales Institute of Architects to enter his brilliant design into the competition. This issue remains a frustration, and a challenge to those who wish to integrate rather than segregate.