Will you help us save your EDO?
After nearly 30 years of helping the people of NSW to protect their environment and heritage under the law, EDO NSW faces an unprecedented threat to its survival and we need your help to ensure we can continue to assist you in public interest environmental matters. Please read on to better understand the problem and what you can do to help.
POLITICAL PRESSURE – In recent days, the NSW Energy Minister attacked EDO NSW’s involvement in last weekend’s community conference in Gloucester. The conference provided an opportunity for community members to obtain information on developments across NSW and was attended by farmers, elected representatives and the broader community. This latest comment follows months of repeated attacks in The Australian newspaper, the National Civic Council and in NSW Parliament, mainly by Shooters and Fishers Party MPs.
These are unjustified attacks on our work as lawyers for the environment. CLICK HERE to see our letter of October 19th 2012 to NSW Government Ministers and MPs responding to these attacks.
FUNDING CRISIS – The NSW Government is now being urged to stop EDO NSW funding under a review of legal assistance services. At the same time, the major source of our annual funding - which comes from the Public Purpose Fund of the Law Society of NSW (PPF) - has been cut. We have been receiving PPF funding since 1996, normally under three-year grant agreements, and our work has been actively supported by the Trustees.
The first cut was to 6 months (July-December 2012); and as of this month has been reduced to only 3 months (January-March 2013), with the dollar value cut by a quarter. As a result, both our PPF funding, and NSW Government funding, must now be considered at risk.
THE PROBLEM – This damaging uncertainty makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to maintain a strong, independent EDO, that can offer ongoing help to clients, and serve the wider community, while operating free of the politics of the day. If our PPF funding is not restored and public funding affirmed then EDO NSW as you know it will be decimated if not destroyed in the New Year. This is occurring at the same time as the Government is pursuing its signature reform of the planning laws, with the avowed intention of restoring community participation and public confidence after the dark days of fast-tracking major projects under Part 3A.
THE SOLUTION – The uncertainty can be solved by the NSW Government making clear its strong and unambiguous support for ongoing PPF and public funding of EDO NSW, ideally with cross-party agreement in the Parliament. In this way, community participation and public confidence in the planning and environment system can be maintained.
WHAT YOU CAN DO – We need our many supporters to speak up long and loud. Please do any or all of the following:
• Contact your local Member of Parliament to call for their support to save EDO NSW, and to express your support. You can find contacts for your local MP here
• Contact the Premier (firstname.lastname@example.org or ph: (02) 9487 8588), the Attorney General the Hon. Greg Smith (email@example.com or ph: (02) 9228 5246) and the Minister for Planning & Infrastructure the Hon. Brad Hazzard MP (firstname.lastname@example.org or ph: (02) 9228 5258)
• Speak to your local media and look for opportunities to support us such as calling in to radio talkback
• Share this email with anyone you think might care about EDO NSW
• We also welcome your donations to EDO NSW online
OUR FUTURE - If the current situation goes unchanged, it means we will have to lay off most of our valuable, highly professional and tireless staff early in the New Year, and begin dramatically scaling back or shutting down our popular key community services including:
• Free legal advice telephone line – we took nearly 1500 calls last year
• Community workshops – 95 across NSW in the past three years, with about 95% in rural and regional areas
• Rural and regional work – a major focus for the past 10 years, with a regional office in Lismore, and support to communities on key issues like native vegetation, water plans, coal seam gas, mining, private conservation and local planning
• Indigenous program – unique support to the Aboriginal community on culture and heritage
• Education and publishing – major guides/handbooks, and 40 much-used Fact Sheets, and a major new guide on mining set to be published
• Policy and law reform – including extensive input to the current major reform of the NSW planning laws, with 2400 hits on our online guide to the Green Paper during the submission period
• Court cases and mediation – ensuring high quality cases get heard and those with poor prospects are filtered out, which has led to many important environment cases on behalf of communities from the cities to the bush
If NSW loses its EDO, the community’s only source of accessible, independent, expert, public interest legal advice on planning and environment matters since 1985 will disappear.
If that alarms you, then please take a stand. Help us to save your EDO.
Here is an article on Professor Andy Buchanan from The University of Canterbury in New Zealand where he is research director of the Structural Timber Innovation Company (STIC). They seem to be leaps and bounds ahead of us when it comes to mutli storey timber design (oh, and rugby and maybe even sailing?!).
As a result of the recent Green Square library competition short list announcement we have been revisiting our own thoughts on libraries, developed in this text for the Marrickville Library EOI and through the process of designing the Junee library.
In commissioning a new library, it pays to reflect and consider what a library has always been; a place of community meeting, a community resource and a collection of knowledge for access by all. This primary purpose of a library remains, despite changes in format and technology.
It is a place where the intricate tendrils and twists of community start by collecting people for a shared, but diverse purpose- that of lifelong learning and of support of our involvement in a constantly changing world.
“Originality does not consist in making up new words that do not have the fine character of experience, but in using existing words well. They can be sufficient for everything.” (1)
In future, places like the library will help provide the way to prosperity, which, as Tim Jackson said, ‘hangs on our ability to participate meaningfully in the life of society.’ (2)
What this means may be quite universal in some respects, but can otherwise be very specifically rooted in a place and a culture. Architecture is often spoken of as a product of the society from which it comes, but it must also take society forward; it must enable people to think the best of themselves and the best of their community.
This building can bring the community a place of focus, a place of importance, sophistication, inclusivity, generosity, wisdom, grace and creativity, in ways that great religious buildings, town halls, theatres, courts and libraries have always done. It can serve to offer unity to what is essentially an infinitely varied collection of individuals. It can define community. This is an exciting prospect for any social grouping, and certainly an exciting prospect to be involved with.
From an architectural point of view the fascination of a library as a repository for knowledge is the myriad of ways we already communicate and spread our knowledge, and therefore the complexities and necessary flexibilities of the library as a service provider, both now and in the future.
We are excited by the idea that this library can add to that communication using the common language of architecture and can connect with it’s occupants in a haptic way, where the dominance of our visual sense is balanced by our other senses. (3)
A great civic building has the ability to provide wonderful, social spaces, and to facilitate & communicate behavioural clues to the community, offering strong links to memory. Juhani Pallasmaa, an architect and architectural theoretician said recently,
‘I don’t think we primarily experience architecture or design architecture for the visual sense; we make it and experience it through our existential sense, so any building is part of you and part of me, both in the act of making and experiencing.’ (4)
We see the potential for a building that keeps at its heart books, as symbolic of our collected knowledge, wisdom and history, and of our need to keep learning throughout our lives. This is not because we are luddites, in denial of the new age of e-readers and iPads (books in another format), or of the role of libraries as social places, or even because the brief specifically asks for room for an expanding collection of ‘real’ books. We simply see the book as an artifact that has an aura that we all still understand. A place of books can offer stillness, it can impress upon us the efforts and creativity of our fellow humans and help us find a place among them.
A collection of books can symbolise all that the modern library does, even though it is no longer the only way it does it. Circulating around this heart are the myriad of other ways we find to share our information and to learn; computers, the wireless internet, the discussion groups, the seminars, lectures, workshops, the cafes, toys and playgroups, the ‘rhyme time’ and storytelling, the museum displays, the rooftop gardens, the art gallery, the water collection, the climate control mechanisms and the world outside. At it’s heart, it might be a thoughtful, quiet building. As you move out to the real world the conversation grows more lively.
“Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilised by education: they grow there, firm as weeds among stones.” (5)
In our work there is no such thing as Environmentally Sensitive or Sustainable Design. There is only good design, design that springs from site, place, culture, environmental best practice, the functional brief, the qualitative brief, client and budget. We have never designed a building that did not include a consideration of how to best design for low energy usage, low embodied energy, environmental responsibility, good long-term lifecycle costs and flexibility in use. Our approach to sustainable architecture is wholistic and embraces sustainability for its benefits in wellbeing, engagement with the world, care for the future and as a long term economic strategy.
What is vitally important for all of our projects is that they do not pay forward or impose a liability or burden on future users. We believe that one should not consider carbon offsets, band-aid solutions or even solar power generation if the building has not first pushed the boundaries of what can be done through passive design. We have re-learnt and continue to do so, what humans have known for thousands of years about climate control. We employ simple low-tech methods of controlling internal environments as a second strategy after passive design.
Because of this our clients spend less on our buildings than they would on buildings where the sustainability is bolted on. We embrace realities such as gravity, evaporation and the fact that hot air rises and use them to our advantage. We have proven that this is an extremely cost effective approach.
We have been working in this way for over ten years and have many tested projects from which we continue to learn. We have continuing post occupancy analyses of two of our buildings which are all exceeding the pre-construction modeling. The users of these buildings are reporting excellent results in energy use and internal climate control and are enjoying a better engagement with and understanding of the environment.
Overall our approach to this project will be to listen and to learn and to apply all our creativity to that task of making a library building for Marrickville that could belong nowhere else and that exceeds the expectations of the people who will use it. We have a proven track record of delivering our buildings on time and on budget. It will be a sustainable building in the most optimistic way; that shows we are capable as humans to adapt to the situation we find ourselves in and have the intelligence, energy and creativity to find a new way to a shared prosperity.
1 Auguste Rodin, Les Cathedrales de France, Paris 1914 p 52.
2 Tim Jackson Prosperity without Growth. The Transition to a Sustainable Economy. Report for the Sustainable Development Committee UK. 2009
3 Juhani Pallasmaa. Hapticity and Time. The Architectural Review May 1, 2000
4 Juhani Pallasmaa in interview with Angelo Candelapas. 2011 http://www.australiandesignreview.com/feature/22033-Interview-Juhani-Pallasmaa
5 Charlotte Bronte. Jane Eyre
We are having a run on getting things on site at the moment! We have four projects in construction in three different parts of Australia. Loving it.
Here’s one of the Sydney projects, a few weeks from lock-up. Bagged brick, assymmetrical roof line, exposed hardwood framing and a builder who really cares about detail !
“Get it right for women. and you get it right for everyone.”
How can women architects contribute to the low cost housing debate in Australia? Our director Lee Hillam interviews four women involved in providing housing for the most vulnerable members of our society. Check out the article on Parlour, a website that offers a platform to discuss women, equity and architecture.
96m long stone vaulted roof at Exeter Cathedral. Completed around 1400 this is the longest uninterrupted vaulted roof in England