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    Davis earns place in Tasmanian architecture history

    Tasmanian architect Karen Davis has become the first woman to head Tasmania’s peak architecture body in its 108 year history.

    Davis takes over from Richard Crawford as Tasmanian President of the Australian Institute of Architects, and is the first female in this role since the Tasmanian Association of Architects was formed in 1903.

    Core priorities

    As president, Davis said she would work to:

    • Encourage and promote excellence in architecture and urban design to make cities more liveable and sustainable
    • Ensure the Institute’s response to the Major Cities Unit’s ‘Our Cities — A National Urban Policy’ consultation paper is promoted
    • Encourage governments to stop the continued expansion of cities into their hinterlands, which is not ustainable
    • Increase and encourage urban density and amenity in existing areas.

    Davis commented: “It’s an exciting time in Tasmanian architecture, especially with development proposed around the waterfront in Hobart, and significant planning reforms proposed for single dwellings.

    “In addition, contemporary Tasmanian architecture is now being recognised nationally — winning three of the 12 categories at the 2010 National Architecture Awards in October.

    “The Institute has an important role to play in encouraging and promoting excellence in architecture and urban design in order to make our cities more liveable and sustainable. Architects like Maria Gigney, who received the 2010 National Small Project Award for Strangio House, demonstrate that skilful architectural interventions can breathe new life into old buildings to make them liveable again.”

    Lobbying government

    “One of my aims as Chapter President, is to ensure that the Institute’s response to the Major Cities Unit’s ‘Our Cities — A National Urban Policy’ consultation paper is promoted at all levels of government,” Davis said.

    “The Institute calls on governments to stop the continued expansion of cities into their hinterlands, which is not sustainable, and to increase and encourage urban density and amenity in existing areas.

    “The importance of good urban design which promotes mixed use developments, quality public space, universal access, adequate open space, pedestrian friendly streets and the improvement of public facilities (such as parks, schools, health facilities, public transport and the like) is vital to ensuring that our cities remain liveable, sustainable, accessible to all, and most importantly are economically viable into the future. Architects, as major contributors to the built environment, are well equipped to help to deliver the challenges of delivering more sustainable cities.”

    Women in architecture

    Davis recently attended an Honour Roll of Women presentation in Launceston, where the first woman architect to be registered in Tasmania and the first female associate of the Institute, Margaret Keitha Findlay, was posthumously honoured for her contribution to architecture.

    “I found it fascinating that back in the 1940’s, the sorts of issues that Margaret spoke about are still relevant today. Throughout Margaret’s career, she stressed the importance of domestic architecture to women’s health and happiness, talked of the need for proper town planning and advocated for improvements to the architectural diploma course for all students in Tasmania.

    “I can imagine that the male domination of architecture at the time would have made it all the more difficult for Margaret to achieve what she did.

    “Today we are fortunate that this imbalance has started to be addressed, with more than 30 per cent of Tasmanian architectural graduates being women, although history shows that a much lower percentage of them go on to become registered architects.

    Bio

    Davis graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture at the University of Queensland, and is a registered Architect and Registered Building Practitioner in Tasmania. Along with partner Rebecca Davis she runs Hobart-based firm CDA Architects, which employs six staff. Karen’s architectural experience ranges from multi-million dollar aged care facilities and shopping complexes, to residential housing and renovations of all sizes and complexity.

    Her professional affiliations include being a member of the Australian Institute of Architects, member of the Tasmanian Chapter Council since September 2006, and Deputy Chair of the Practice Committee. Davis was a Director of Tasmanian Affordable Housing Ltd, is currently an executive member of the Friends’ School Board along with being Chair of the Present and Future Facilities Committee.

    Along with Davis’s business interests, she actively participates in skiing, sailing and bushwalking and has a continued commitment to her family’s wellbeing.

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