By Lyn Drummond

19 January 2011 – Architects will propose to the Queensland government that building design be considered in its terms of reference for its Commission of Inquiry into the Queensland floods, as industry bodies respond to the crisis.

According to the chief executive officer of the Australian Institute of Architects David Parken a preferred system of designing and building resilient homes is essential in the terms of reference. The interim report is due in August this year and due to be released by January, 2012.

Mr Parken was not prepared to comment on what a preferred design could be at this point, but said any preferences for the traditional Queenslander house on stilts did not hold weight when there were instances of these homes being swept off their footings by the water.

The institute’s blog, www.institutefloodrelief.com will be active until the end of January so members Australia-wide can offer help to their Queensland counterparts and other affected regions. The blog has already attracted suggestions, for example, from Queensland architects, Biscoe Wilson, for a flood repair knowledge base to be established by the institute.

The blog suggests support from member such as offering office space or accommodation, electrical equipment or internet access. Mr Parken said an SMS had been sent to Queensland members in flood affected postcodes to promote the blog to colleagues.

The institute’s advice service Archicentre and the institute are also planning an initial free inspection service for flood victims, with chargeable follow up services.

Archicentre will co-ordinate architects providing on-going advice and designs for rebuilding.
Emergency Architects Australia will help local communities in the Lockyer Valley with options for rebuilding. EAA, which assisted Indonesia in the floods in Aceh in 2006, is also working with Emergency Architects, Paris which has specific flood management experience, Mr Parken said.

As part of its involvement with the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council’s Climate Change Task Group, the institute will examine adaptation as a priority. This will include flood risk as well as other forms of impacts from climate change and extreme weather.

Before the floods, the institute launched an ideas competition with the Insurance Council of Australia for resilient house designs to deal with extreme weather events, including floods. It closes on 15 April 2011.

Fund raising for flood victims will be promoted through an international speaker program in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane and the institute will auction various items donated from overseas architects to raise further funds for the flood appeal.

The onstitute’s Brisbane office flooded and is temporarily relocated next door to the Home Ideas Centre, Merivale Street, Brisbane.

The Property Council
In other moves the The Property Council of Australia’s Queensland office was back on line on Monday with a request for members who can donate heavy machinery to contact the Brisbane Lord Mayor, among a range of measures to deal with the flood crisis in that state.

The PCA Queensland office has formed a floods recovery committee, comprised of chairs from all its regular committees, with its first meeting scheduled for today (Wednesday), it has also joined as a member of the Queensland Government’s business advisory group and will also hold a cocktail party on 4 February to raise funds for the Premier’s Flood Appeal.

Key contact points are:

Urban Development Industry Association
The Queensland branch of the Urban Development Institute of Australia will establish a flood advisory taskforce of industry representatives. The taskforce will also develop strategies to keep the industry well informed and represented in all future reviews on the floods.

The taskforce, chaired by UDIA past president, Brett Gillan, will help members whose businesses have been directly affected and advise on policy to the UDIA (Qld) Board of Directors.  Mr Gillan has extensive development, construction, property management and civil engineering expertise.

Members of the taskforce will be appointed by the president and vice president of UDIA (Qld). Members interested in taking part should email the chief executive (bstewart@udiaqld.com.au). Nominations for members of the taskforce will close at 5pm Thursday, 20 January. Contact: bstewart@udiaqld.com.au).

UDIA (Qld) said it could offer use of the UDIA boardroom and some limited office space at 141 Queen Street, with internet access also provided, for members whose business activities are immediately affected.

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