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Australian architects have new national standards to adhere to

The Architects Accreditation Council of Australia has released the new National Standard of Competency for Architects prioritising First Nations peoples and sustainability.

Australian architects have new national standards to adhere to

Consider the bar raised. The newly released 2021 National Standard of Competency for Architects (NSCA) has formalised two principles vital to the modern practice of architecture in Australia: respect for the environment and our First Nations peoples.

“Embedded within the practice of architecture is the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ ongoing connection and custodianship of Country, and the ethical responsibilities to the physical environment and the transition to a carbon-neutral built environment. These responsibilities are fundamental to architecture practice,” it states.

To be rolled out progressively in three stages over the coming 12 months, the updates come as the result of the Architects Accreditation Council of Australia’s (AACA) five-yearly review and have been developed through an 18-month-long process involving in-depth research and close engagement with stakeholders.

“We are proud that the 2021 NSCA enshrines a greater focus on more meaningful engagement with our First Nations peoples. As this year’s NAIDOC Week theme – Heal Country! – so clearly highlights, we have a long way to go in achieving real reform and reconciliation,” says Kathlyn Loseby, chief executive officer for AACA.

“We recognise that fundamental change is needed in the relationship Australia has with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” she continues.

“We also acknowledge that we have so much to learn from the rich history and oldest continuing cultures on earth, not least when it comes to how we care for Country.

“With our climate in crisis and the built environment accounting for 36% of energy consumption, 38% of energy- related carbon emissions and 50% of resource consumption globally – and expected to double in total footprint by 2060i – urgent action is required.

“Architects are at the forefront of our capacity to transform the built environment’s impact on our climate into a carbon-neutral one. The NSCA is a critical tool in this change,” she says.

The staged rollout will start in January 2022 for the National Program of Assessment, July 2022 for the Experienced Practitioner and Overseas Qualification Assessment, and January 2023 for Accreditation and the Architectural Practice Exam.

A copy of the 2021 NSCA is available at aaca.org.au

Feature image: Newman Health Clinic by Kaunitz Yeung Architecture for Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Services (PAMS). Photo by Robert Frith Acorn Photography.

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