In Victoria, the Government Architect heads a small office affiliated with the Victorian Government Department of Premier and Cabinet. The Office of the Victorian Government Architect (OVGA) provides a high level and whole-of-government perspective on all matters relating to the quality of the built environment throughout the State.
The OVGA has no specific statutory responsibilities in relation to either the planning system or procurement processes for State-funded buildings and infrastructure, but seeks to provide leadership in both these spheres and helps to facilitate better design outcomes. This includes providing coordinated access to strategic design advice across government, offering complementary design expertise to government agencies responsible for delivering public infrastructure, and advocating ways to achieve quality design and better design outcomes in the built environment across Victoria.
The remit of the OVGA includes both an advisory and an advocacy dimension. The OVGA provides strategic advice to Government and offers a critical understanding about architecture and urban design to ministers and their departments, enabling the Victorian Government to be a better informed client. The OVGA leads and supports the consideration of built environment design in the development of government policies and participates on key project committees to pursue design quality outcomes for government buildings and infrastructure and public places. In addition, the OVGA promotes awareness of the benefits of good design to the private sector and in the wider community.
To assist with its advisory role, the OVGA has recently established a Victorian Design Review Panel (VDRP). Modelled on the design review function of CABE in the UK, the VDRP will provide independent advice to government and statutory decision makers across Victoria about the design of significant government projects. The panel will comprise a pool of specialists from the disciplines of urban design, architecture, landscape architecture and planning who will be called upon to participate in regular design review sessions.