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ArchiTeam is now 25 years old!

Peter Hogg, was a long serving director of ArchiTeam, here he gives a personal reflection on the first 25 years of ArchiTeam.

 

ArchiTeam is now 25 years old. As we grow past 600 members it is timely to reflect on why ArchiTeam was formed, what it is all about and why it is still important a quarter century later.

In 1992 architects in Victoria were not doing so well. After the boom of the late 1980s the recession had hit hard, and it was widely said that one in 3 architects was unemployed, and 1 in 2 was underemployed. I graduated into this recession, and I was unemployed / under employed for nearly 4 years.

A crisis meeting was called at the Royal Australian Institute of Architects to see what architects could do to try to help themselves. A group of them, led by Brian Miller, Greg Strickland and Andy Begg, decided to form a cooperative to help share what work was available. This would mean that resources could be pooled so that they could bid for larger work, enter competitions and to be able to collectively bargain to be able to obtain a better deal of professional indemnity insurance.

ArchiTeam was born.

Originally an offshoot of the Institute, ArchiTeam and the (then) RAIA did not always see eye to eye, and after a year or two there was an acrimonious split. While aiming to represent the profession as a whole, the Institute in fact receives the bulk of its funding from the big practices, and that is their primary focus. ArchiTeam, by contrast, represents sole practitioners and small practices. Further, many in the Institute saw ArchiTeam as a direct competitor to Archicenter and RAIA Insurance Brokers – both wholly owned subsidiaries of the Institute – and were openly hostile to ArchiTeam.

The split lasted nearly 20 years until, in December 2012, in my capacity as director, I called the Institute to discuss what we could collectively do about the planned abolition of the ARBV which the then Planning Minister Matthew Guy had proposed.  To their credit the AIA (and Alison Cleary in particular) were up for the discussion. The rift was healed, and ArchiTeam and the AIA consulted on a range of matters. The profession is big enough for both the Institute and for ArchiTeam, and we can – and should- work together.

What I like about ArchiTeam is that it provides a sense of community, that it is focused on small practice (who form the vast bulk of architectural practices) and that it is cooperative. To me cooperatives are a way of combining economic efficiency and incentive with equity, fairness and independence. The cooperative and mutual sector of the economy used to be much larger than it is now, but was largely gutted during the 1980s when many successful cooperatives and mutuals were de-mutualized and bought out by the big corporates. A big mistake in my view, but money talks.

The cooperative nature of ArchiTeam feeds in to the community side of ArchiTeam. It is our cooperative, it belongs to the architects who benefit from its services, it speaks for us. We are all in it together. When ArchiTeam holds its awards or a CPD session or gets in the ear of the minister (or the Institute) it does so for us, the small practitioners.

It is also the best value architects association around.

Now in its 25th year, ArchiTeam is on a roll.  Member involvement is growing and is critical to ArchiTeam’s appeal and to its success. The advocacy committee is kicking goals, and the recent conference (and after party) was inspirational. It is great to see ArchiTeam continue to grow, to branch out interstate, and to become a real presence in the architectural community. I look forward to the day when ArchiTeam is a major force in the profession in every state, and perhaps beyond….

The profession – and maybe other professions – need organisations like ArchiTeam to represent the grass roots, the people at the coal face rather than the big end of town…..I worry that one day ArchiTeam might grow too big and, like the big trade unions have (think of the H.S.U.), lose touch with its base and become an irrelevance. That day may well come, but my guess is that it is another 25 years or more away. For now ArchiTeam is powering into the future, and long may it continue to do so.

Happy Birth day ArchiTeam, well done, and many happy returns.

Peter Hogg was on the ArchiTeam Board from 2009 till 2006 and on the CPD committee from 2004-2016, during which time he chaired around 70 CPD sessions.

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