World Architecture Festival founder and director, Paul Finch has praised the work of Australian architects in a visit to Perth, calling a few of their recent projects a “step in the right direction” for crafting the city’s own architectural identity.

Speaking at a Perth conference on Thursday 25 February for the launch of the 2016 WAF, Finch explained that Australia’s key cities should take inspiration from their own history and character when they’re redeveloping, rather than trying to be like somewhere else.

“There is a tendency for cities to try to adopt the characteristics of other cities they admire, but this only results in cities starting to look the same, with the same skylines and the same shopping streets,” he suggests.

“But it is far better for cities to examine their own history, their climate and their geography, and to develop or redevelop in a way which makes the city more like itself, not more like some other place which it never quite become.”

Finch singled out Perth Stadium by Cox Architecture, Hassell, HKS and Arup as a step in the right direction that could become “symbolic of the city”.

“The Perth Stadium design is specific to its area,” he says.

“It’s not just a stadium you could pick up from somewhere else in the world and drop in Perth.”


On the theme of idiosyncratic architecture Finch also pointed to ARM Architecture’s designs for Elizabeth Quay.

“When Perth decided to develop Elizabeth Quay, it decided not to try to make it like Circular quay in Sydney, and this was surely a smart move,” he explains.

“What is emerging on the Perth Waterside is a very stimulating contribution to the life of the city as a whole, where the CBD now extends down to the water, with a wonderful public space as its conclusion”


For Finch, the challenge for architects is to think about what makes a city special, and how that can be enhanced and extended when new development comes along.

“It takes political commitment, but also an understanding on the part of developers, architects and planners that all significant buildings play a part in the life of the city as a whole, not just within the red line of their site boundary. You have to zoom out to see the big city picture before you zoom back in again and start work on your site,” he says.

“This is what architects ARM have done in relation to Elizabeth Quay, and it already seems to be attracting large numbers of locals and visitors.”