53rd President Elected at the AGM of the Cape Institute for Architecture (CIA)

South Africa’s largest regional architectural body, the Cape Institute for Architecture held their 116th Annual General Meeting (AGM) at the organisations offices in Hout Street, Cape Town last night (29 October). At the meeting, which was attended by the Minister of Public Works, the Honourable Thulas Nxesi was also the Chief Executive Officer and the Practice Director of the South African Institute of Architects (SAIA), Obert Chakarisa and Bryan Wallis to welcome the newly elected Andrew Cunningham as President of the Institute.

Out going president and Director of Peerutin Architects, Simmy Peerutin opened the AGM by welcoming the Minister of Public Works, SAIA’s CEO and Practice Director and CIA members before presenting the President’s Annual Report, which is a detailed report of the various task teams, sub-committees, schools and executive reports. Highlights in the report include the public engagement that the Institute and its members had this year by participating in projects such as Open Studios, First Thursdays and the Design Africa Symposium.

Also highlighted in the presidential report was the success of the 25th UIA 2014 Conference, which took place in Durban earlier this year in the month of August, Simmy urged members to watch the videos of talks by Francis Kere, Rahoul Mehrotra and SAIA President, Sindile Ngonyama. In his parting words Simmy said “looking to the future there is even more to do than ever before and the institute needs to evolve and it needs to work with SAIA at a national level to meet the needs of its members and the challenges of this profession, I offer my best support and wishes to the incoming president and the management committee”.

SAIA’s CEO, Obert Chakarisa presented the business and strategic plans of SAIA for the next three to six years with a key focus on six areas which are dealing with member services, focusing on operations, transformation within the profession, marketing of the institute, as well as development research and building key sustainable partnerships.

Thulas Nxesi, Minister of Public Works addressed the architects in attendance, in his speech he emphasized the significant role that architects had to play in National Governments roll-out of the National Infrastructure Plan and the transformation of the built environment, along with a report back on the developments with in the Department. Referring back to the UIA 2014 Conference which he attended Nxesi touched on the sub themes of the World Congress which were Resilience, Ecology and Values, which he said suggested a continuing debate on what role the Architects will play in relation to a number of global challenges including persisting poverty, unemployment and inequality, rapid urbanization and the need to adopt a more radical development agenda.

From the side of government, these growing challenges demand that we engage with the architects, planners and designers to redefine how we interpret the built environment and more importantly how that built environment is perceived by the communities who experience it” says Nxesi. In his report back of the developments within the Department of public works he conceded that the Department was getting to grips with the previous problems of poor financial management and non-compliance.

Before closing his address, Nxesi reemphasized that the importance for a renewed and sustained programme of action to transform the Built Environment particularly the construction and property sectors in order to address the mounting concern at the slow pace of transformation, so that ownership, management and the skills profile better reflect the demographics of South Africa. “Transformation must include support for black and female contractors and property practitioners; as well as the production of black and female professionals and artisans in the Built Environment disciplines. We cannot be complacent that only 24% of built environment professionals are black and 9% are female,” says Nxesi.

Incoming President Andrew Cunningham vowed to continue building on the work done under the guidance of outgoing President Simmy Peerutin. Cunningham also spoke on how architects needed to rethink their approach to architecture when engaging with the industry, general public, students, scholars and the environment.

The new management committee consists of Michael Bester (Vice President), Andrew Cunningham (President), Kevin Gadd, Sally Hugo-Hamman, Vincent Marincowitz, Simmy Peerutin (SAIA Vice President), Cathy Skillicorn, Andre Spies, Grant Arendse and Glenn Horsfield.

For more information on the roles and responsibilities of the new management committee and a detailed report of the Presidents Annual Report you can log onto the Cape Institute for Architecture’s website www.www.cifa.dev.cc.