In the lead-up to this year’s Sustainability Awards, it seems pertinent to profile one of Australia’s rising stars - Monique Woodward, recipient of the 2018 AIA National Emerging Architect Award.

Monique received the National Emerging Architect Award in recognition of her tremendous contribution to the profession, design excellence and commitment to industry education and leadership. She was also elected an Australian Institute of Architects Victorian Chapter Councillor in 2016, served on the Victorian Heritage Committee and co-chaired the chapter’s Small Practice Forum and EmAGN. 

Monique is a director of WOWOWA Architecture - studio with a uniquely Australian approach to architecture, established in collaboration with Scott Woodward in 2011. In describing their architectural practice, WOWOWA say that their studio is all about “creating meaningful, contemporary, idea based civic spaces that are socially useful and publicly generous. Our projects champion context and demand that architecture have big ideas, which may be deeply personal, but are always cultural. We celebrate Australian culture, the kitsch and a love of daffy colloquialisms translated into architectural ambition.” 

WOWOWA’s latest residential projects, the Silver Winner of the 2018 Melbourne Design Awards, Tiger Prawn, or  Il Duomo (recently shortlisted in the inaugural The Design Files Awards) are excellent examples of that philosophy. Social housing project Nightingale WOW embodied the commitment they demonstrate in their civic work through “interest in how alternative methods of procurement can lead to the formation of unexpected relationships with a wider community” - even though the site was ultimately acquired by Moreland City Council to become a park, which will be a great win for the community. Similarly, their recent project Kalora Park Sports Pavilion - recognised with Gold in Public and Institutional category at Melbourne Design Awards - builds a sense of optimism for an inclusive and accessible space.

This emerging architect’s commitment to social change goes beyond her architectural practice. In June this year, alongside Stephen Choi of the non-for-profit Living Future Institute of Australia, Monique curated AIA’s 2019 National Architecture Conference. The conference, titled “Collective Agency” gathered industry professionals willing to change the status quo and follow “aesthetics with ethics” - conference contention - by recognising it’s time for a new perspective, a new kind of leadership and wider diversity. It comes as no surprise that she’s been named a ‘Better Future Champion’ at this year’s Melbourne Design Awards. 

Monique and WOWOWA’s work exemplify the commitment to progressive, ethical and socially-conscious architecture that is becoming increasingly common amongst emerging Australian architects. With growing professional recognition and a number of exciting projects in the pipeline, these are names industry observers can expect to see more in the coming years.