Karl Fender

27 May 2010 – The Australian Institute of Architects has a new national president – Karl Fender of Fender Katsalidism, and he comes with a promise to continue a strong focus on sustainability, building on the work of his predecessor, green architect Melinda Dodson.

Mr Fender said his key priorities in the next 12 months would be to focus on:

  • sustainable communities, cities and architecture
  • Furthering dialogue between the Federal Government and the profession on a range of issues and projects, particularly the establishment of an Australian Government Architect position within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
  • Planning Reform
  • Championing an urbanist view of the future of Australian cities
  • A fostering of the Institute and architecture community working in Australia and offshore.

Mr Fender, director and founder of Fender Katsalidis, which recently pioneered a pre-fabricated CBD high rise apartment building in Melbourne that promises to slash construction time and waste, comes well armed for his new role.

He has won multiple architecture awards and been responsible for some of Australia’s most high profile buildings including Melbourne’s Eureka Tower, projects at Melbourne’s Docklands and the award-winning NewActon East building in Canberra, which won the Canberra Architectural Medallion for 2008.? ?Mr Fender was the President of the Victorian Chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects in 2008-2010 and is currently working internationally on major projects in Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Shanghai, and the design of a new town and marina in Gibraltar.

It was a good time for architects, Mr Fender said.

There was the encouraging collaboration with other built environment professions and interest from the federal sphere on better urban environments.??He said architects were increasingly being regarded as “agents of change capable of bringing about a better quality of life through the creation of sustainable, best-designed built environments.”

Key relationships were being forged across industry partners, exemplified by architects; “membership and leading role with the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council.”

In the year ahead Mr Fender expected inroads would be made into producing research designed to encourage more informed debate on issues such as cities of the future, climate change, distributed resources and zero residential emissions.

“All of this will add to the growing body of evidence supporting the need for more sustainable cities.”

Mr Fender said the Built Environment Meets Parliament conference in 16 June, would be a key opportunity for this.

“This alliance between the Institute, Planning Institute of Australia, Property Council of Australia, Green Building Council of Australia and Consult Australia continues to develop as a strong and close collaboration, offering an opportunity to explore the economic, social, environmental and governance issues that help shape national prosperity.

“This year, we’re taking this exchange to the next level, commissioning KPMG to conduct an audit of each capital city’s metropolitan strategy and how they perform against COAG’s nine key objectives for sustainable cities.”

Mr Fender said the focus was entirely in line with COAG’s strong recent spotlight on the liveability and sustainability of Australian cities as well as with the Federal Government’s and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s “strong overtures in recent times that we must do more, sooner, better, and more collaboratively to improve the quality of our urban spaces.”

tperinotto@thefifthestate.com.au