Monash University has appointed Naomi Stead, as head of architecture at the Monash Art, Design and Architecture (MADA) program.
Stead, who joined Monash earlier this year as professor of architecture, takes up her new role in January 2018.
Having been trained as an architect at the University of South Australia, Stead received her PhD from the University of Queensland, and has had teaching stints at the University of Technology, Sydney, as well as the University of Queensland.
With her doctoral thesis: ‘On the Object of the Museum and its Architecture’ (2004), Stead examined the cultural politics of architecture in recent, purpose-built social history museums.
Not limiting herself to teaching, she also edited the 2012 book Semi-Detached: Writing, Representation and Criticism in Architecture and was from 2012-2015 co-editor of Culture Unbound: Journal of Current Cultural Research (Norrkoping, Sweden), and from 2011-2014 editor of Architectural Theory Review. Stead also writes regularly for The Conversation and is co-editor of architecture website, Parlour, focusing on women, equity and architecture.
“I can’t think of any architecture school in the country where I’d rather be,” Stead says of her new appointment.
“Monash Architecture seems to me to cultivate the perfect balance between practical knowledge and rigorous scholarship – producing ideas to work, and producing critical practitioners as well as practical criticism.”
“Many of the challenges faced by cities today – accommodating growing populations, adapting spaces to become more inclusive, addressing environmental sustainability – require a fresh perspective and new ways of thinking, exactly the sort of thinking a faculty like MADA can provide,” she says.
“Monash has a great cultural mix: great students with imagination and ambition; excellent colleagues motivated by the desire to use architectural ideas to contribute to a better world; a hugely impressive University with amazing depth of knowledge and experience, and the potential to do great and significant research and teaching work,” she says.
Asked what she will bring to the role, Stead says, “My background compliments and, I think, enhances those strengths and will enable us to keep doing all those things but in a larger and more ambitious way: tackling urban issues from several different directions at once while producing critical practitioners as well as practical criticism.”
“As a department’ we’re looking to do design-based architectural research in a more rigorous way, and humanities-based architectural research in a way that can have an effect in the world and contribute to the common good.”
“The size and relative newness of architecture at MADA means that it has youthful vigour and optimism - it’s agile, it’s not held back by tradition or ideology, it can set about trying to engage with the world. Architecture schools in general have a huge opportunity here,” Stead says.