Caroline Pidock is an architect who is a prominent voice for sustainable architecture. She is currently the Chair of the 1 Million Women Board and a spokesperson for Australian Architects Declare. She is also well known for her roles as Presidents of both the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council and the Royal Australian Institute of Architects in NSW. Recently we spoke to Caroline about her thoughts on the role of women in sustainable design and architecture.
The discussion turned very quickly not to women in sustainable design but a feminist approach to sustainable design.
“Over the last 250 years we have seen a disaster in the making in this country, which was realised in the Black Summer of 2019-2020. For more than 60,000 years, prior to the arrival of white colonisers, Australia’s continent and islands have been nurtured by hundreds of nations of people in a sustainable, regenerative manner.”
“In 1788 a domineering, paternalistic approach to place and people from Europe, was brought to Australia. A place that had no need for excessive large buildings, wars on a massive scale or known the significant destruction of land, natural and human lives. This ‘new’ way of doing things was concerned with conquering, extracting and managing everything and everybody, rather than trying to firstly understand.”
“I don’t believe there is a ‘female’ or ‘male’ way of doing things but I do believe a feminist approach would be more open to seeking advice from the original custodians of this land. We need to be concentrating on how, as a nation and as designers in this land, we work towards a regenerative mind-set of respect, cooperation and coevolution for a healthy and sustainable future for everyone and everything.”
“As architects we need to be approaching our projects through a deeper understanding of the systems we are working with – physical, ecological and social systems. Once these systems are understood, they then guide the brief and provide the requirements for the project. Not the other way around. This brief then becomes the catalyst for connecting those systems in a regenerative way. We can then consider how design can repair, restore and regenerate.”
“I have been particularly inspired by projects such as the Battleboro Coop by the Regensis Group where a brief was redefined from a LEED certified building to a broader mission that supports and nurtures the local community through reskilling local farmers, providing spaces for workshops on how to preserve excess produce and providing affordable housing.”
There is such a huge opportunity to turn our focus away from problem solving and look instead to potential realisation. This requires much deeper understandings of the systems we are working within and the willingness to let this direct our work. It’s not always easy, but we have to make a start so that we can work together to co-create and co-evolve the living future we need.”
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