NSW government architect can help shape the urban environment: Chris Johnson

NSW government architect can help shape the urban environment: Chris Johnson
Chris JohnsonDecember 7, 2020


The appointment of Abbie Galvin as the NSW Government Architect is a positive signal about the design of the state’s urban environment.

It is a good move forward to have the first woman as NSW Government Architect in Abbie Galvin.

The role of the Government Architect has evolved over 200 years from one of designing all of the state’s public buildings to now having an overview of the whole built environment.

The Urban Taskforce has had a long relationship with the Government Architect particularly as the chair of our Development Excellence Awards jury over almost 20 years. The development industry is keen to contribute to a quality built environment and we look forward to working with Abbie Galvin in this regard.

The NSW Government has recently stressed the importance of public spaces and the quality of the public realm, which will require a balance between the role of the state government, of councils and of the private sector that developed most of the buildings in the state.

It will be important to balance the quality of buildings with affordability, particularly as NSW housing is one of the most expensive in the world. It will also be important for the Government Architect to bring a commercial understanding of building and construction when reforming or developing broader planning rules and requirements that applicants for new projects must comply with.

Already, the NSW planning system is very complex, and slow - and the pursuit of design excellence should lead to faster rather than slower approvals.

The new Government Architect should become an advocate for a more urban way of living, with greater density than the traditional suburbs and champion these more urban ways of living.

The Urban Taskforce is keen to work with Abbie Galvin in her new role as the NSW Government Architect, in shaping the future urban form of our cities.

CHRIS JOHNSON is the Urban Taskforce CEO

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