Tuesday 23 March – Friday 30 April 2021
5.00 pm (AEST)


Design Speaks Virtual Portal
Virtual Event


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Program Info

This edition of The Architecture Symposium will explore the theme of the 2021 Asia Pacific Architecture Festival, “How new is now?”

Is there any such thing as a new idea? The cyclic nature of the world can make it difficult to distinguish innovation from iteration. Though we may think something is new, is it really new? In response to changing times, including a global pandemic, economic crisis and climate emergency, architectural and design agency has the potential to be applied in different and exciting ways. In this program, we will simultaneously learn from the past and optimistically look forward to the next decade of design with a careful balance of vision and pragmatism.

Presented over four days from 16 March, the program includes three hour-long speaker sessions and concludes with a plenary discussion. Choose the sessions that are most valuable to you, capped off with an engaging interactive live discussion, Dissection: How new is now?


Part of

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Download CPD Questions and Learning Outcomes


Sophia Buckle

Event Coordinator Header Image House in an Orchard by RMA Architects. Photography: Rajesh Vora.


  • New Urban
    In 2019, the Asia Pacific region became majority urban for the first time in history, with more than 2.3 billion people living in cities. Never before have cities been so central to the human experience; never before has the design and maintenance of the urban realm been so pivotal. In this session we hear from architects at the forefront of shaping and critiquing the new urban condition.
  • 12.20 pm Welcome
    Log in to the Design Speaks Virtual Portal
  • 12.30 pm Presentation
    Rahul Mehrotra, RMA Architects (India, USA)
  • 12.50 pm Presentation
    Mark Middleton, Neil Stonell and Andrew Cortese, Grimshaw (Australia, UAE, France, US, UK) 
  • 1.10 pm Presentation
    Tiffany Dahlen, MAD Architects (China, US) 
  • 1.30 pm Session 3 concludes
    Return to the Design Speaks home page to see the full program


Rahul Mehrotra

Principal, RMA Architects

Rahul Mehrotra is the founder and principal of RMA Architects. He divides his time between working in Mumbai and Boston and teaching at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University where he is professor of urban design and planning and the John T. Dunlop professor in housing and urbanization. His most recent book is titled Working in Mumbai (2020) and is a reflection on his practice evolved through its association with the city of Bombay/Mumbai.

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Mark Middleton

Group Managing Partner, Grimshaw

Joining the practice in 1996, Mark has worked predominantly on the completion of large-scale projects that successfully resolve the competing demands of complex technical requirements and stakeholder aspirations. During Mark’s six year tenure as managing partner for Grimshaw’s London studio he was responsible for a long period of growth, steering the new business strategy and the commercial performance of the practice.

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Neil Stonell

Managing Partner, Melbourne, Grimshaw

Neil is the managing partner of Grimshaw's Melbourne studio. With extensive experience across a variety of building sectors and typologies including rail, aviation, workplace, university buildings, retail and masterplanning, he has been instrumental in the delivery of complex projects throughout the region and globally for Grimshaw, including the practice’s first Australian project, Southern Cross Station, the recipient of the prestigious Lubetkin Prize.

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Andrew Cortese

Managing Partner, Sydney, Grimshaw

Andrew Cortese joined Grimshaw in 2009 and established the Sydney studio in 2010. Andrew has been instrumental in the design leadership of the Australian practice working into all project sectors, including establishing multi-discipline collaborative teams in significant public projects. His principal achievements have been in urban planning at scales from precincts to cities, the architecture and urban design of complex state significant projects with respect to infrastructure, tall buildings, science and learning, culture, sports and housing, and the industrial design of urban componentry.

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Tiffany Dahlen

Associate partner, MAD Architects

Tiffany Dahlen is an associate partner at MAD Architect's Beijing studio. She is an American-born architect who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and joined MAD in 2010. Leading projects and competitions both in China and abroad, she has experience with large-scale projects in dense urban conditions that aim to emulate MAD's philosophy of the Shan-Shui city and evoke the emotional connection of humanity to nature.

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