Friday 29 April 2022


I had promised to forward the reference to a colleague, but it was easier to go back to the source than find the blog again. Given this, it seems timely to reiterate the point: that the Board of Architects of Queensland does have the authority to take one’s experience in the profession into account when it is considering renewal of registration, but it apparently chooses not to. Why? Why not recognise ‘the wisdom of the seniors’ instead of treating them as fumbling novices and demented fools - nostalgic old-timers who stubbornly still want to be called an 'architect'? The reference comes from the Architects Act 2002 Queensland Legislation:

16 Meaning of continuing registration requirements

(1)Continuing registration requirements are requirements of the board that, if satisfied, demonstrate that an applicant for renewal or restoration of registration has maintained competency in the practice of architecture.
(2)The requirements may include requirements about the following—
(a)the nature, extent and period of practice of architecture by the applicant;
(b)the nature and extent of continuing professional development to be undertaken by the applicant;
(c)the nature and extent of research, study or teaching, relating to architecture, to be undertaken by the applicant;
(d)the nature and extent of administrative work, relating to architecture, to be performed by the applicant.
(3)The requirements are satisfied by complying with the board’s continuing registration requirements for architecture.
(4)The board must—
(a)keep published the board’s continuing registration requirements on the board’s website; and
(b)keep the requirements available for inspection, without charge, during normal business hours at the board’s office; and
(c)if asked by a person and on payment of the fee, if any, prescribed under a regulation, give the person a copy of the requirements.



Like most legal documents, the language becomes both puzzlingly critical for understanding precise meanings, and stubbornly tedious for simple, ordinary communication. So one gets ‘requirements may include requirements about’ and ‘requirements are satisfied by complying with the board’s continuing registration requirements,’ emphasising that ‘requirements’ are ‘requirements.’ This seems to be important.

It is requirement (a) that gives the Board the authority to consider the applicant’s experience in the profession: ‘the nature, extent and period of practice of architecture by the applicant’ – if it so chooses. The wording is ‘may include.’ It is clear that the Board cares nothing about this requirement, but is keen to concentrate on requirement (b): ‘the nature and extent of continuing professional development to be undertaken by the applicant.’ This apparently is a more tangible category; perhaps easier to define. Is it better for ticking boxes and checking.

Requirement (c) is interesting: ‘ the nature and extent of research, study or teaching, relating to architecture, to be undertaken by the applicant.’ One assumes that this clause has been included to assist academic staff who do not practice, providing a possible path for registration without the tasks of CPD.

Requirement (d) is puzzling: ‘the nature and extent of administrative work, relating to architecture, to be performed by the applicant.’ What is ‘administrative work’? Filing? This seems to be a bit of an ‘include everything possible’ clause.

Out of all of these four ‘requirements,’ the Board seems to focus only on CPD – (b). Indeed, it has published a detailed paper on this requirement. There are no similar explanatory papers on any of the other requirements, thus putting them to one side, almost as an irrelevance.

But are things as clear as they need to be? In (b), (c), and (d), the words ‘to be’ read oddly, and seem to suggest that the applicant might only intend to undertake ‘research, study or teaching,’ ‘continuing professional development,’ and/or ‘administrative work’: ‘to be undertaken/performed’ seems to point to a future, as a proposal - ‘yet to be?’ - rather than refer to a recorded past, where ‘has been undertaken/performed’ might more firmly identify completed requirements that can be appropriately submitted and assessed for renewal of registration as an audit might require. Does one have to assume that the intention is that the words be read as ‘that has to be’? One should not have to try to work out what an Act is saying, or not saying; but the legal mind does exist in world of its own, and always knows best.

Clause (3) seems to allow the Board to structure its own vision for renewal of registration; ‘(3)The requirements are satisfied by complying with the board’s continuing registration requirements for architecture.’ So it appears that the Board defines what it wants; the Act defines what it ‘may’ include; ‘may’ choose to choose. (4a) explains how: ‘(a)keep published the board’s continuing registration requirements on the board’s website.’ So the Board’s CPD paper is the document that counts, and nothing else?

What one has to wonder is: does this published set of requirements define the only requirements that the Board can consider, even though the Act allows it to include much more than CPD – (b)?

The Board needs to think carefully about this, because the current circumstances with CPD make no consideration for experience, leaving the 50-year registered architect having to perform the same point accumulation courses as the 5-year registered colleague, irrespective of content. Everything seems to revolve around the accumulation of points – 20 total: 10 formal/10 informal. The Board’s text explains these and the process involved; but the Board does make clear that it is not going to accredit or approve any courses or presenters, leaving each applicant to work out a course of attendances or otherwise that might be the most appropriate for this individual at this time in his/her career. This seems sensible, perhaps an attempt to accommodate difference in interests, (c) and (d), and experience, (a); but one is left wondering just how the Board can determine any ‘appropriateness’ or otherwise, given the acceptance of this broad, seemingly inclusivepersonal approach’ strategy.

Looming in the background of this general approach to CPD is the question of points: who determines where these apply; how; and in what quantity once the personal choices have been determined? One attendance or activity might be three to one person, but one half to another who has no interest in it: who is to know? Are the points more important than the experience? The Board's explanatory paper makes the CPD arrangements sound so ordered and precise, but there are difficulties in its implementation that reach wide voids of the unknown in spite of this apparent certainty.

The role of (a), (c) and (d) still lingers. Can experience be put forward as a point-scoring activity? Academics appear to be able to claim their work - ‘research, study or teaching’ – as relevant ‘architectural’ activities, so why not practising architects with either an ‘extent and period of practice of architecture,’ or ‘administrative work’? With the Board refusing to define or be involved in the content of the activities required for CPD, other than 'formal' and 'informal,' it seems hard to believe that, with the option in the Act to let the Board include these considerations for registration renewal, ‘may include,’ that the Board might ever consider excluding them as matters of relevance for the renewal of registration when the personal choices from individual assessments include these. It makes no sense for the Board to start limiting options in things personally relevant.

The issue of the academic who does not practice is intriguing as the Board has created two levels of renewed registration: a practising architect; and a non-practising architect.

9 Eligibility

(1)An applicant for registration is eligible for registration only if—
(a)the applicant is qualified, under section 10, for registration; and
(b)the board considers the applicant is fit to practise as an architect.
(2)Also, an applicant for registration as a non-practising architect is eligible for registration only if the board is satisfied that the applicant will not carry out, or be responsible for the carrying out of, architectural services within the registration period to which the application for registration relates.


The complication here is that a non-practising architect, an academic, e.g., can be a registered practising architect. One supposes that there is nothing forcing a practising architect from not practising, other than the accumulation of CPD points. It is the strange category of non-practising architect that gives the Board control over the enforcement of anyone ‘non-practising,’ where CPD points are not needed.

Not needed

This raises the matter of what an architect does in practise, and, by definition, not do in non-practise. One assumes that the requirements for registration that the Board ‘may include,’ actually encompass the broad scope of an architect’s practice: ‘nature, extent and period of practice of architecture; nature and extent of continuing professional development; nature and extent of research, study or teaching; and the nature and extent of administrative work, relating to architecture.’

Does this mean that a non-practising architect is not able to be involved in any nature or extent of practice; in any study, research, or teaching; or do any, e.g., filing or ‘architectural’ administrative work? This seems very strange and limits any useful involvement a senior or any other who might choose not to practise, might have in their profession. This applicant is allowed to be an ‘architect,’ but is apparently then cut off from everything ‘architectural.’ What is allowed? Where are the limits? How is the Board supervising this - only in default, by trial and error? It seems a sad state of limbo for anyone who values being an architect to accept. Why doesn’t the Board just simplify things and maintain some pride and relevance in the profession by including all the requirements that those who wrote the Act thought relevant for renewal of registration? Then the broad spectrum of things ‘architectural’ might be able to truly be embodied in the skills and interests of those who call themselves ‘architects’ without any uneasy apology, awkward embarrassment, or stumbling explanation for this professional apartheid.

This ‘non-practising’ is a very strange category that has been created for what appear misguided reasons that seem to have not been thought through. The ambition looks to be that the individual - the applicant – can continue to be called an ‘architect,’ ironically when he/she is not one, and not allowed to be one, or get close to anything ‘architectural’ – or be one that is allowed to practise. With all of this hoo-ha with the precise use of the term, ‘architect,’ in the Act, one has to wonder why the Board is not alarmed with the popularisation of the use of the term in general language, where it has come to mean anything but ‘architect,’ as the Board would like to see one defined; strangely, this is:

architect means a person registered as an architect under this Act’a hollow, circular ‘definition’ that lacks all definition, because, as it currently stands, this excludes all those in (a), (c), and (d) who do not choose to be in (b). It makes a pretty poor framework for any definition, and only adds authority to the essential role of CPD: only those with proper points can be registered as an ‘architect.’ The proposition is that, without CPD, one is not an architect, but can be a ‘non-practising architect’ – a ‘non-architectarchitect. This seems very foolish considering that no one is managing CPD, leaving the profession in willy-nilly territory, a strange, professional no-man’s-land.

The argument to include all requirements, (a), (b), (c), and (d), in a fertile and rich definition of ‘architect’ is only enhanced - made more essential in a world currently engrossed with the accumulation of points, however, whenever, just because the Board wants it this way. One might suppose that this limited interpretation of ‘architect’ - a person registered as an architect under this Act - and the required requirements for registration and its renewal, makes it easy for the ‘school teachers’ to mark the submissions in their audits. This seems a very poor excuse if this is so, where the cart is leading the horse in circles, going nowhere, but still certain of its path.

Why does anyone bother? The answer to this is: just because the Board wants it this way. Knowing what is really going on in the 'game' of points accumulation makes the whole of CPD, and therefore the profession itself, by the Board’s own definition, a farce.


The Google Dictionary, that uses OxfordLanguages as its source, defines architect as:




  1. 1.

    a person who designs buildings and in many cases also supervises their construction.

    "the great Norman architect of Durham Cathedral"



  2. planner

  3. builder

  4. building consultant



    a person who designs hardware, software, or networking applications and services of a specified type for a business or other organization.

    "we are seeking an experienced software architect to join our scientific computing team"



  1. design and configure (a program or system).

    "few software packages were architected with Ethernet access in mind"

    The interesting observation here is that architect is both a noun and a verb. It is something that the Board needs to address because modern language has transformed the meaning, making the Act either anachronistic or just very specialised in its extremely narrow-minded definition. Maybe this reflects the way that architects have become misunderstood, bespoke specialists today?

Thursday 28 April 2022


A relationship with nature seems a strange theme today when architecture is more concerned with its expressive, ‘wild’ and ‘with a jolt,’ bespoke style than anything else: see – Being ‘at one with nature’ appears to be more suited to describing the quieter architecture of bygone eras, be this the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, or perhaps that of the traditional Japanese architects: but are things ‘green’ changing our attitude to nature? One could suppose that this might not be so, with ‘green’ things becoming more of a stylish decorative theme than any in-depth referencing of inherent natural, ‘organic’ qualities: see – There seems to be very little interest in the work of those who have investigated nature in the past, like that of D’Arcy Thompson (1860 – 1948), a Scottish biologist, mathematician and classics scholar who wrote On Growth and Form in Dundee in 1915, and published it in 1917 – a remarkable study that continues to intrigue.#

D'Arcy Thompson illustration

The daily reports suggest that something is happening with things ‘natural’: see -


The first headline caught the eye and the cynic raised the question - This Coastal Australian Home is Completely in Sync With Nature. What on earth can this mean? Was it the word ‘completely’ that raised the doubt; or was it ‘sync’? Perhaps it might just have been the commanding certainty of the exclamatory statement that one questioned?

The text seemed to qualify matters as soon as one started to read it: this magnificent home south of Melbourne, Australia is distinguished by the synergistic visual relationship it has with the natural surroundings. So this is no in-depth, philosophical connection that might be drawing inspiration from latent beauties or their inner rigours in nature, just something visual – well, more than that: its is a synergistic visual relationship, whatever that means. The text tries to explain: it features natural materials and melds with the landscape and is serene and relaxing, both because of its nature-focused orientation and the luxurious ease of the design. . . . The architects used a raw material palette throughout the home, which allows for an emphasis on the surrounding bushland and natural vegetation, and the decor is spare yet luxurious, encouraging a feeling of relaxation and harmony with nature from every room. While the house is angular and glassy, with good views, with an open feeling, the mere words saying that is is Completely in Sync With Nature, leaves one wondering about the hyperbole.

The full text needs to be read to see how the text establishes the visions in its words, for this seems to be what is happening. We need to be careful with texts that can easily encourage us to see things in the manner they suggest rather than with a fresh and unbiased eye c.f. melds with the landscape, and is serene and relaxing, both because of its nature-focused orientation and the luxurious ease . . . Does it? Is it? Might it be so?

The next report that caught the attention was on Foster + Partners and TH Studio’s Forest Pavilion, Forestias in Thailand – This project sees itself as a prototype of living with nature. The pavilion is currently the sales gallery for an urban development around a forest zone, something like a real estate office, and will be converted into The Forestias Ecosystem Learning Center for sharing knowledge of forest ecosystem, and be a hub of residence society for joyful moments. It is to be a centre for happiness, with happiness (being) a simple yet powerful manifesto advocated in The Forestias. Sales seems to be the core hope of this blurb that uses nature as an attractive background for customers to envisage idyllic enjoyment. Is it just a ploy? The link to nature seems to something other than some meaningful guide rooted in meaning; just part of the hype needed to attract people, like moths to a flame - this dynamic forest-like landscape is a living paradise creating biodiversity that will grow and evolve along with the current and future generations seems to say it all just too much. There appears to be a core lack of commitment to nature here, just the desire to harness its qualities, as one might blandly do with a hydro power station.

The headline of the third report noticed that day - - seemed to complete the theme of things ‘natural’ with a set of projects: ARCHITECTURE MEETS NATURE IN THESE BIOPHILIC DESIGNS. There are ten projects that involve ‘nature;’ but what is biophilic? The Mirriam-Webster describes it as:



bio· phil· c | \ ˌbī-ō-ˈfi-lik \

Definition of biophilic

: of, relating to, or characterized by biophilia : relating to, showing, or being the human tendency to interact or be closely associated with other forms of life in nature. The biophilic tendency is nevertheless so clearly evinced in daily life and widely distributed as to deserve serious attention. It unfolds in the predictable fantasies and responses of individuals from early childhood onward.— E. O. WilsonHowever, the emerging concept of biophilic design recognizes how much human physical and mental well-being relies on the quality of our relationships to the natural world.— Lindsey Blomberg

First Known Use of biophilic

1932, in the meaning defined above.

The headline seems to be making some substantial claims for the ten buildings that it lists: closely associated with other forms of life in nature. These are:

1. The Slope House

2. Easyhome Huanggang Vertical Forest City Complex

3. Hugging House

4. Playa Viva

5. The Holiday Home

6. The Playground Restaurant

7. Mitosis

8. The Tower Flower

9. LivingHomes

10. The House Zero

The Slope House is an exotic structure that has been placed in nature, boasting unusually that natural plants have been added inside the house as a small gardenWOW!, as if this might add to its credentials that appear to be more rooted in shape than location.

The Vertical Forest City Complex seems to be a terrible play on words, with a few pieces of greenery placed on the various levels of a high-rise building in an urban setting – it is hardly a ‘forest,’ and raises every issue mentioned in

Hugging House remains an enigma, as it is still only in its conceptual stage. It looks like a house on a slope built around existing trees – a situation that possibly has more to do with necessity than nature.

Playa Viva comprises off-grid treehouse-style villas with roofs shaped like the wings of Mobula Rays. The text explains that the beauty of biophilic architecture is that nature provides the blueprint. It is difficult to say that it does not, but the scheme looks to be dramatically assertive, with rays swimming through the forest. The villas looks more like a tourist attraction than a hymn to nature.

The Holiday Home is a quirky little box in a forest that uses recycled materials as it apparently should: Biophilic and organic architecture tend to rely on disused waste and recycled matter. The project seems to fill a gap in the forest rather than settle into it in any native manner.

The Playground Restaurant is an enigma, as the illustrations show what is described as a cinder block wall with lights in it and a few bits of greenery: nature; biophilic? The claim appears to be exaggerated.

Mitosis is described as a regenerative sustainable living and urban development. It looks more like a scheme with plants around the edge. The words look like journalistic hype: Created with biophilic principles and parametric design tools, the hypnotizing prefab timber modules we see will be optimized to be flexible and scalable. It seems to want everything possible to be read into the project that looks fairly basic once the greenery and decorative timber slats have been removed. Nature seems to lack necessity here.

The Tower Flower looks just too literal a project to even think about it being biophilic. It looks like a tourist attraction – an observation tower and coffee shop, possibly selling souvenirs too. The reference to nature is just too obvious; a cliché.

LivingHomes is a puzzle. It looks like two intersecting boxes plonked on the dunes. It appears to want to claim some closeness to nature because it uses recycled materials.

The Zero House is the last project. Its claim to fame seems to be the 3D-printed concrete walls: see – Just how these hold a close relationship to other forms of life in nature remains unclear. Was there a struggle to find ‘biophilic’ examples?

What seems clear here, in these projects, is that the ‘nature’ link is somewhat superficial; an adopted aside to add something more to a project. Perhaps the reporter was overexcited about discovering a new word - biophilic. The links to nature in these projects is equal to the visual connection seen in the first beach house, somewhat superficial at best; at worst, it is purely there on the basis of something like a pun, with ‘green’ things being referenced, therefore ‘nature;’ either things that are coloured green, or that things that grow.

While design once drew inspiration from nature, it now seems that projects want to draw on nature in order to give the work some intellectual roots – by way of pretence. Theory used to inform design; now thoughtful approaches are extremely thin. They appear to have become a mercurial verbal game that seeks to direct thoughts and visions by alluding to things ‘natural’ as if talking about furnishings or fashion, so that value can be added to hollow beginnings – as if organically; ‘naturally.’

D'Arcy Thompson illustration

Sadly, it is all rather like applique, with nature being used for its inherent visual qualities, as additional things added on, to be seen in association with designs, rather than being engaged in any integral manner with the concept and strategy. The point is that, instead of adopting nature as a decorative, value-adding backdrop, we do need to try to understand how it once was a rich inspiration for beginnings that held depth in not only the evolution and development of designs, but also in their outcomes# – and it still can be if we ever want to extract ourselves from our indulgent world of ‘like’s, for it is this approach that turns life into an enviable spectacle of self-important self-expression.

D'Arcy Thompson illustration


29 APRIL 22

One has to also mention the writings of Christopher Alexander, his work on the patterns of language and the nature of order: living structures; wholeness; centres; true unfolding; adaptation - all exampled in nature.

In one interview, Alexander noted how “It is difficult to talk about the nature of order without speaking about God.” This understanding is a far cry from visual appreciation or applique.