It’s fitting that the theme of this year’s Festival of Architecture and Design (FAD) is “Ideas of Home”. After launching in 2014 as a result of what executive director Nicolette Di Lernia calls “a real snap decision”, FAD has finally found a home of its own, in Nexus Arts at the Lion Arts Centre.
After the inaugural festival, FAD “got much bigger”, says Di Lernia. “We had events all around the city, which was interesting and diverse but lacked a bit of focus, Two years ago, we were part of Open State, which was pretty amazing, but huge. This year, we’ve made a deliberate decision to give ourselves a bit of space away from [the events in] October and go back to that original model where we had a home base, and to keep things fairly connected.”
This year’s program examines the concept of “home” through guided tours, talks, forums and more, with topics ranging from housing affordability to the environment. Di Lernia says the idea sprung from recent conversations in the industry, but it’s also a theme that touches everyone. “Housing is … directly relevant to all of us. And the sorts of things that are being considered and discussed by our speakers [are] how we manage density, and how we create community ... and people’s fundamental right to have a home. They’re all really accessible issues.
“We’re going through a pretty rapid change in our cities, and that’s impacting on how we live … being proactive about how we make decisions into the future will allow us to have a city that we really enjoy, rather than one we just have to put up with.”
Di Lernia is particularly looking forward to Finding Country, which will see Kevin O’Brien, a Brisbane-based architect and descendent of the Kaurareg and Meriam people of Far North Queensland, speak about homelessness in Australia through the lens of country. His talk will be followed by a panel on Indigenous housing. “First Nations people (have) managed to live here for an awfully long time in a very balanced way,” Di Lernia says. “This relationship with country is really important and a discussion we need to have.”
Stephen Hicks’s talk, Stealth Density is another of Di Lernia’s picks. He’ll present case studies from his practice, David Barr Architects, and address topics such as housing affordability, diversity and suburbia.
Other program highlights include 15 @ Home, for which 15 speakers will briefly deliver their takes on this year’s theme. In addition to local architects, lecturers and researchers, guests will hear from local artists Hossein Valamanesh and Kaspar Schmidt Mumm.
“This is not a professional conversation that only certain people can be part of, or are welcome at,” says Di Lernia. “Architects exist to provide buildings for people. And part of the reason people become architects is because they’re interested in their clients: what they need, what they want, how they live, how they work. We will show some lovely housing … but it’s not the only thing that architects do, and it’s not the only thing that architects think about.
“It’s great to grow a city, and it’s great to have a high-tech city; but if it’s not a city that responds well to people and that people feel alienated from ... you’ve achieved something that’s shiny, but you haven’t actually achieved a nice place to be.”
Festival of Architecture and Design runs from July 18 to 21 at Nexus Arts. The full program is available online