In 2009 Professor Laura Lee, Adelaide ‘Thinker in Residence’, devised an integrated design strategy for South Australia. In 2010, the Government undertook the first recommendation of her report and formed the Integrated Design Commission SA (IDC SA).
Within the Commission, there is a collaborative leadership model of Commissioner for Integrated Design, Government Architect and Executive Director. Ben Hewett started in the inaugural role of South Australian Government Architect in January 2011.
The role of the Government Architect is to provide expert advice and strategic direction to Government across architecture, landscape architecture, heritage, urban design, planning and development. The Government Architect is also Executive Director of the Commission, and as such leads it in an administrative sense, managing budgets, resources, projects and staff, and reporting to the Chief Executive of the Department of Premier and Cabinet.
This relationship to the central agency of Government is important, allowing a cross departmental approach in the provision of advice, review and direction. The IDC SA model is unique in Australia. The Commissioner reports directly to the Premier with broad remit of design leadership in the State – effectively the ‘designed environment’.
The Government Architect is responsible for the ‘built environment’ – an overlap in the two roles, but where there is significant need in an environment of some design ‘paucity’. The Executive Director provides leadership in the Commission’s relationship to the public sector and has significant experience in its processes and procedures.
An explicit expectation is the capacity of the role of the Government Architect to raise awareness of the value of good design based in research and evidence, as well as the value of design being delivered through collaborative and integrated processes. One way in which this will work is through the Commission’s Design Review program, which commenced in November 2011.
Review program based on CABE model The Design Review program is based on the UK’s Design Council CABE model and has been formalised through a Memorandum of Understanding between the two agencies. As part of the agreement, the Commission is drawing on the expertise of Design Council CABE with an upcoming adaptation of a number of their design guides to the South Australian context. Design Council CABE is interested in the IDC SA model, and a possible application of its integrated design strategy for inner Adelaide (branded 5000+), for the UK.
The Government Architect leads the Design Review process for South Australia, with 2012 seeing the rollout of the independent expert and multi-disciplinary panels reviewing projects across both government and industry. To enable this requires collaboration and negotiation across the different areas of planning and delivery within government, as well as consultation with industry.
Finally, the Government Architect is also the Director of 5000+, a national pilot project. 5000+ is an integrated design strategy that begins in Adelaide. It is a design-led vision supported by the three tiers of Australian government, designed to be a replicable model adaptable across Australia.