Trip to Perth

By Caroline Pidcock

The end of October saw me travelling to the other side of the country - for hopefully my last trip this year.... While the carbon miles have really added up (not good), I have tried to make the most of the trips to develop my thinking and ideas for progressing a more sustainable future(better).

I travelled to Perth to attend an Australian Building Codes Board Meeting. As it is a national board, meetings are rotated through all the capital cites of Australia. The agenda we considered was extensive, and included the outcomes of the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission, smoke alarms. the National Construction Code, Class 2 + 3 buildings classification and a number of other items. We were all delighted to hear during the meeting that National Parliament was to sit for another day. This meant that the number of sitting days for the Premises Standard would achieve the 15 required for it to be passed, enabling the recommendations will be included in the BCA 2011. Finally, the BCA will be able to guide people on how to provide adequate access in buildings. Congratulations to all those who helped make this happen.

As I had travelled so far, I thought I should make the most of the trip and visit some people to talk about my book - the history of eco housing in Australia. I was delighted to be able to meet up with the following great people.

Adrian Welke, Troppo Architects. Adrian has not only designed some amazing buildings in some of the more remote places in Australia - he and three friends undertook a trip around Australia after they finished uni to look at appropriate building approaches for different climates. He generously gave me time to talk and copies of his findings.

Gary Baverstock, Solar ECom. Gary was one of the first people to develop computer rating systems in Australia and was instrumental in developing Ecotect. After an interesting professional jounrey, he is now involved in giving sustainability advice and designing and developing sustainable projects. Gary took time to talk and take me to an industry Xmas BBQ in Kings Park where I met up with some other colleagues, including Warren Kerr!


Geoffrey London, Professor University of Western Australia and Victoria Government Architect. Geoffrey has invaluable experience in the profession across the country - I was very interested in his opinion on the direction the book might take and the practices that might be conidered. We met in his second Perth office - Gino's cafe in Fremantle which serves a geat coffee!

I also met with Irold Van Der Saar who is now living in Australia and working at Cameron Chisholm Nichol. He is a graduate of the Glenn Murcutt Master Class and had helped connect me to a number of great people when we travelled in the Netherlands in January 2010. CNN have a talk on Friday afternoons, so I was asked to talk about my Zero Emissions Architecture scholarship. I was able to deliver the talk I recently gave at the British Embassy in Sydney as on overview to a talk by Allan Proctor of the Proctor Group. It was great to catch up with Dominic Snellgrove (ex Sydney) as well as Greg Salter who I met at Kings Park hours earlier. I think Perth is even more of a village than Sydney!

On Saturday, after coffee with Geoffrey London, I headed up to Kalumunda to meet with Gary Warden and his family. Gary was trained by Al Gore and became a Climate Change Coalition candidate after discovering the importance of addressing climate change and leaving his high paying job at BHP Biliton. He has spent he last year building a sustinable home, after a frustrating time trying to get one designed that was both appropriate for the climate and affordable... The outcome - designed by himself while embedding the ideas from two architects - is very good. And on a really hot day in Perth was incredibly comfortable.


I think the different opinions I was offered on what is good architecture, what is sustainable and what my book should be about is very much a reflection on the spread of ideas my book will need to cover. And how difficult a task this is going to be to! I am hoping that as I get further into the journey of selecting the houses, the shape the story that needs to be told will emerge. While complex, it is something I am looking forward to it very much!

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