Australian architect Jill Garner of Garner Davis Architects (GDA) has been appointed as Victoria’s new Government Architect and has already publicly expressed her plans to fix the Fishermans Bend.
Garner has been serving as the Associate Victorian Government Architect since 2010 and has more than 25 years of experience in the sector including teaching design, architectural history and contemporary theory at RMIT and the University of Melbourne.
Within hours of the announcement of her appointment as the Government Architect, Garner went public about her plans to change the planning direction and focus at Melbourne’s Fishermans Bend, telling The Age that she was disappointed that in the course of its planning the precinct had lost its ‘family-friendly’ focus.
"We were a little upset when it was declared a capital-city zone because we felt we might have lost that idea," she explains.
"It is a matter of how we grasp that back."
Garner will head The Office of the Victorian Government Architect (OVGA) which was returned to the Department of Premier and Cabinet from the Department of Planning earlier this year after it had been removed by the previous Napthine Government.
Her office will play a key role in providing design advice on Victoria’s critical infrastructure projects, assisting with government decision-making on the built environment in Melbourne central city and across the state.
The OVGA will assess development applications for key sites in Fishermans Bend and Garner says that her office will be considering how to attract owner-occupiers into the area, in direct contrast to the current skyscraper precincts of Melbourne where the vast majority of buyers are investors.
The Fishermans Bend already has $2 billion worth of approved developments including three multi-residential projects by Rothelowman architects and a massive 103 metre residential tower by Plus Architecture.
Minister for Planning Richard Wynne, who announced Garner’s appointment, also said that the OVGA’s Design Review Panel will be given a stronger role in the development of Melbourne, and will be responsible for providing independent advice as part of significant development assessment.
Wynne noted that Garner’s wealth of experience in advocating for architectural design and innovation will drive best-practice design in Victoria’s projects.
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