Friday 13 March 2020
8.30 am – 5.00 pm ()


Auditorium 1 and Queensland Terrace, State Library of Queensland
Stanley Place
South Brisbane Queensland
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Program Info

Join us in Brisbane for The Architecture Symposium where an international line-up of speakers will present an eclectic mix of presentations exploring the challenges of living and designing in the Asian Century. A headline event of the 2020 Asia Pacific Architecture Festival, The Architecture Symposium will be addressing the festival's overarching theme of “Water” in environmental, contextual and poetic ways.

The myriad cultural attitudes to water in the Asia Pacific region, and the many ways our cities and communities are shaped by our understanding of water, will prompt thinking around how we can address what lies ahead for our threatened environment and build a sustainable future.


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Nicole Greenwell

Sponsorship and Events Header Image Bamboo Theatre by DnA Design and Architecture. Photography: Wang Ziling.


  • 8:30 am Attendee arrival
  • 9:00 am Acknowledgement of Country
    Georgia Birks, co-curator, Asia Pacific Architecture Festival
  • 9:10 am Opening comments from Katelin Butler, editorial director, Architecture Media
  • 9:15 am Keynote: Craftsmanship and local roots
    Realrich Sjarief, RAW Architecture (Jakarta, Indonesia)
  • 9:55 am Keynote: Practising in a changing landscape
    Kotchakorn Voraakhom, Landprocess (Bangkok, Thailand)
  • 10:35 am Morning tea
  • 11:00 am Keynote: People and water: A “place to return”
    Takeshi Komada, Komada Architects’ Office (Tokyo, Japan)
  • 11:40 am Keynote: Architectural acupuncture
    Xu Tiantian, DnA Design and Architecture (Beijing, China)
  • 12:20 pm Keynote: Building on water
    Philip Cox, Cox Architecture (Sydney, Australia)
  • 1:00 pm Lunch
  • 2:00 pm Keynote: Water all around us
    Erik L’Heureux, Pencil Office (Singapore)
  • 2:40 pm Keynote: Water as contestable space
    Julie Stout, Mitchell Stout Dodd Architects / Urban Auckland (Auckland, New Zealand)
  • 3:20 pm Keynote: Between the waters
    Gurjit Singh Matharoo, Matharoo Associates (Ahmedabad, India)
  • 4:00 pm Closing comments from Katelin Butler, editorial director, Architecture Media
  • 4:10 pm Closing drinks
  • 5:00 pm Event concludes

Keynote Addresses.

Practising in a changing landscape

Presented by
Kotchakorn Voraakhom, CEO and Founder, Landprocess

Climate change has the biggest impact on densely populated delta cities that are sinking across the world like Tokyo, New York, London, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Shanghai and many more. Today, Bangkok, a city of 15 million people living, working and commuting on a shifting, muddy river delta, is sinking more than a centimetre every year, or four times faster than the rate of predicted sea level rise.

“Our way of living with water is reflected through architecture and landscape. Thais were once called amphibious. We lived both on land and water. But now our relationship with water has changed. Our modern city infrastructure no longer allows our amphibious nature to flourish.” Kotchakorn discusses what we can do as architects practising in this changing landscape. “Aspirations in how the city can choose to address its threatened future while allowing new architecture with landscape strategies to emerge are what we need.”

People and water: A “place to return”

Presented by
Takeshi Komada, Director, Komada Architects’ Office

“People” and “water” are both constantly flowing and circulating. Like every stream has its source, each of us has our own place to return. In his presentation, Takeshi Komada examines the form of these sources and the way that they flow into streams. The source might be a pond or a lake. If so, people may recognize their neighbourhood as a “place to return,” but if the source is just a single point in a spring what would it be then?

The velocity at which people flow is rising and the streams that they make are getting extremely complex. Our “place to return” might be isolated and connected directly to the very fast flow of the stream. Therefore, we may have to think of the springs that make small streams and a small gatherings of water.

Architectural acupuncture

Presented by
Xu Tiantian, Founding Principal, DnA Design and Architecture

Xu Tiantian has initiated “Architectural Acupuncture” as a systematic and sustainable rural strategy in Songyang County to generate a new “rural self-confidence.” With a minimal intervention approach, multifunctional public programs are introduced to different villages and rural region tailored to the complexity of respective cultural heritage and context. Applied with vernacular material and construction technique, architectural acupuncture integrates nature back to the villages, restoring their rural identity, as well as stimulating rural economic development.

Like acupuncture releases the trapped energy at various meridian points on the body, Architectural Acupuncture is an approach aimed at motivating and inspiring villages and communities to initiate their own self-regeneration and further development.

Building on water

Presented by
Philip Cox, Founding Partner, Cox Architecture

Water is the essential ingredient of landscape and, especially in Australia where aridity is foremost, we should be planning a better use of water as an integral part of our design. Through macro planning, Cox Architecture aims to improve the management of water and our connection to it. Cox Architecture’s global reputation has led to opportunities to work on interesting water developments in South East Asia, China and the Middle East.

In this presentation, Philip Cox will explore the ways in which water inspires or is used as a design element in key architectural and urban design projects that span water and are built on water, including the National Maritime Museum of China and the Founder’s Memorial in Singapore.

Water as contestable space

Presented by
Julie Stout, Partner, Mitchell Stout Dodd Architects

Aotearoa/New Zealand is immersed in the Pacific. Water is our world; the connection between us all. However, for those in charge of developing our cities, water is to be controlled – drained away, filled in and monetized. For the last 180 years in Tamaki Makaurau/Auckland, the harbour edge has been up for grabs, as the city developed around its port. Now that situation is being challenged.

For the last 5 years Julie Stout has led a campaign that questioned the Ports of Auckland’s right to even be in the centre of a rapidly growing central city area. She will discuss the historical cultural attitudes of both the Māori and colonizing Europeans to the water, and how an evolving cultural and environmental debate is influencing people’s relationship to their city. As an architect and urbanist, Julie will discuss what opportunities the gradual transformation of this strategic space could have on the city and its harbour.

Between the waters

Presented by
Gurjit Singh Matharoo, Principal Architect, Matharoo Associates

Indian culture ascribes rivers to goddesses, where taking a dip is symbolic of purifying the soul. Traditionally, in the more arid regions, rain is celebrated with song and dance as an essential respite from the scorching heat. Ancient storage systems in the form of stepwells, tanks and ghats dot the area, and collection is an important community activity. Besides providing easy access to water, they are important functional landmarks that vary from leisure to cremation.

Matharoo Associates functioned for over 20 years from a space overlooking the river Sabarmati in Ahmedabad. So strong was their bond with water, that when the time came to move to another part of the city, a swimming pool was placed along the entire length of their self-designed and built studio also named “Pool.”

Trickling into Matharoo Associates' work – public buildings, residences and retreats – connections are established with waterbodies in a variety of ways, attempting to capture the aspirational value of water sometimes even in its absence.

Water all around us

Presented by
Erik L’Heureux, Principal, Pencil Office

Water all around us will expand on designing for the hot and wet equator – a region where temperatures average above 27 degrees C, humidity levels exceed 75% and annual rainfall exceeds one metre or more in aggregate. Perennially pregnant with humidity and water vapour, and the gloss of seasonal monsoons over landscapes, the air is a thick medium that imbibes a spatial quality a physical presence that impacts design.

A series of projects will showcase how architecture then becomes a filter for the atmosphere – one that engages with it rather than replacing atmosphere with temperate, conditioned air.  The projects advocate the need to reclaim architectural agency in productive, poetic and experiential ways to deal with the challenges of the saturated, densifying urban equator and the water all around us.

Craftsmanship and local roots

Presented by
Realrich Sjarief, Principal, RAW Architecture

We are in the midst of an information technology era that promotes efficiency and simplification of building technology in all aspects of the industry, including architecture. However, there is still old wisdom that can teach us about the building technology of the past. This old wisdom is more grassroots; it is an understanding that to design and build something out of the land, you need to understand the root of the land. This concept explores how architecture should be tested by the optimization of local resources, building technology and the implementation method, which together build the structure of local genius.

This presentation explores the root and progression of the social structure that cultivates the building tradition, manifested in generations of traditional craftspeople. It is not limited to the debate of how we should preserve the form of modern architecture, but rather discusses the evolution of future architecture with the spirit of modern architecture by the introduction of a model of craftsmanship – a total adaptation of craftspeople, architect, builder and client into a holistic ecosystem.

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