The NSW Government Architect Peter Poulet is looking to promote good design in the built environment through a range of initiatives involving councils and the building design community.

Theis is due to a growing concern within the architectural and design community about the way new buildings interact with public space, and especially how they affect the streetscape. Lack of government regulation is seen as one of the reasons, with architects and designers calling for reforms to existing planning rules.

Poulet says he wants to raise street-level building design standards by getting councils and similar development approval bodies to organise design competitions, review panels comprising of architects and designers, as well as public meetings and workshops, with the ultimate goal being to achieve the desired outcomes for public streets in built environments.

The NSW Government Architect’s office says it plans to release new design guides for the public domain, focussing on buildings and open spaces in cities and towns. 

Shaun Carter, who previously headed the NSW chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects, has also called for a new planning law that would set minimum standards for street design and public spaces.

However, current head Andrew Nimmo believes local councils are better placed to introduce new norms in building design due to their familiarity with the areas and streets under their control.

Given that smaller councils lack the expertise to implement decent street design, Nimmo says that  councils should have a city architect as well as a city landscape architect.

A State Design Review Panel of architects and designers will also be set up by the NSW Government Architect’s office to examine the standards of public buildings.