The Office of the Victorian Government (OVGA) provides strategic advice to government on architecture and urban design. The OVGA works to support public sector clients from project inception, including assistance with writing the brief, defining the best procurement route, and selecting the right design team to match the brief. The OVGA also provides support throughout the design development process, offering design review.
Design review is offered by the OVGA in three ways; through the Victorian Design Review Panel (VDRP – the focus of this article), through Design Quality Teams (DQT) and through internal peer review, undertaken by the OVGA team.
Victorian Design Review Panel
The VDRP has been established to provide independent and authoritative advice to government and statutory decision makers across Victoria to improve the design of significant development proposals. It is a pilot project and has been funded for three years.
The VDRP will offer design advice at key stages of the design process through formal peer review undertaken by a panel of highly experienced design and development professionals, a specialist technical panel and Government design specialists. The aim of the VDRP is to raise the design quality of proposals, achieve best value and ensure that all opportunities are realised for all Victorians in public projects.
How are projects selected for review?
The VDRP will review projects of significance – significant because of their size or the uses they contain; significant because of their site, or with an importance greater than their size, use or site would suggest. In its first year, the VDRP will review projects where there is investment from the State.
In years 2 and 3, the VDRP will extend the service to Local Authorities and private sector projects.
What is the form of review?
Design review by the VDRP will occur monthly with a morning and afternoon session. The VDRP will be chaired by the Victorian Government Architect or Associate Government Architect. Six panel members, including the Chair, will see up to three projects in a session. Prior to the VDRP session, the panel will be briefed by the OVGA VDRP team, who will have met with the client, the design team, and other stakeholders to fully understand the brief for the project. The OVGA VDRP team will also visit the site. The client and design team will present for up to twenty minutes, using drawings (maximum 12 x A1) to explain their project.
The panel will then provide comment which will form the basis of the formal letter of advice from the OVGA. The process of the VDRP will be active and engaged, with high level cross-disciplinary expertise brought to bear at key stages of the design process.
The model is based on the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment’s (CABE) process of design review, which has run successfully since 1999.
Throughout the pilot program, the OVGA will be testing this process and adapting it to respond to the Victorian context. The VDRP is seeking projects at the earliest possible stage in the design process with the intention of proposals returning for design review through their design development.
For more information, including the list of panel members, terms of reference and dates for review, please see www.ovga.vic.gov.au. If you have a project you would like to be reviewed which meets the criteria above, please contact Lauren Beattie, VDRP Coordinator via [email protected] ovga.vic.gov.au.