The ACT Government Architect’s position is part-time, one day per week and, for the first two years, is sponsored by the University of Canberra as a part of its contribution to centenary of Canberra in 2013.
In the new ACT Government structure, the Government Architect sits within the Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate (ESDD), and reports to the Minister for ESDD through its Director General. Immediate administrative support is provided by the Urban Design Policy Group within the Directorate. Given that this is a new position, with limited time involvement, the approach has been to focus on some particular areas of design concern:
• providing specific project design advice to Directorates in architecture, urban design and engineering
• providing design direction for the development of the City Centre
• providing design and development coordination between Directorates.
New policy proposals While immediate issues of design quality are being addressed, there is clearly a need for a broad design framework in which the Government Directorates can work.
The following proposals are being put to Government to increase the level of design awareness within Government.
Design Review Panel It is proposed to create a ‘whole-ofgovernment Design Review Panel’ that will review all significant new architectural, urban design and engineering projects proposed by the ACT Government. In this way guidance can be given to agencies at a very early stage on design processes that will achieve excellence of design outcomes. This process will fit within a ‘Gateway’ project approval process that has been developed by ACT Treasury for the financial approval of new projects.
City Centre design and land use directions Whilst there is substantial coordination of ‘works-in-progress’ in the City Centre, there is little coordination between the dozen or so Government land holders (and therefore developers) in the City, nor is there any clear vision for how the Government wishes to see that development occur over the next 20 or 30 years.
It is proposed to engage consultants in early 2012 to collate existing planning documents for different parts of the City Centre, and provide a forward vision and land development strategy that can inform Directorates and the private sector on the most effective way of developing the centre to achieve a high quality urban design outcome. When this is completed, it will be used as vehicle for engaging the local development community in discussions about achieving design excellence in the City Centre and build on a workshop for the re-design of City Walk that was convened earlier this year.
Procurement of high quality design In the Government’s procurement procedures for infrastructure there are no guidelines for the attainment of high quality design outcomes. The Majura Parkway project may be a first in this regard.
A policy proposal will be prepared in early 2012 to prepare procurement guidelines for the ACT procurement agency to ensure that design excellence is promoted for all ACT Government projects. The focus to date has been on improving systems within Government, but when these are in place the role will change focus to include the broader community