Building Designers love talking timber!

Jason Ross, who MC’d the recent Building Design Association of Australia’s (BDAA) national festival, reports that the industry is on the move with sustainability and climate. Here are some takeaway thoughts.

Mon 07 Nov 22


More than 500 industry professionals attended the Building Design Association of Australia’s (BDAA) national festival of design in-person, Australia’s largest festival of design last week and the biggest congregation of building design professionals since the Covid-19 pandemic.

Billed “The Rebuilt Environment – A National Festival of Design” the conference attracted luminaries such as the renowned architect Peter Stutchbury and Dr Geoff Woolcock – chair of the Australian National Development Index and Talina Edwards, board director at Australian Passive House Association (APHA) and co-ordinator of Australian Architects Declare.

A Building Designer is first and foremost a professional familiar with all facets of the building trade, whose plans and designs represent the particular needs, style, and budget of the client.

Ultimately the Building Designer has autonomy over the complete design of the building structure and for the most part has full control over material selection through the building specification.

Through building specification, Building Designers play a key role in influencing the selection of materials in residential and commercial projects.

So, to be invited to host and MC the national conference of Building Design professionals was an altogether humbling experience – and a great opportunity to understand a key stakeholder in the building material supply chain.

Running from October 27 to November 1st, the festival featured a Trade Show, two-day formal conference, Gala Awards Dinner, member experiences and culminating in a Melbourne Cup marquee event.

Quite the festival of Building Design!

Overwhelmingly timber was a much loved and cherished material with timber-focused presentations from Paul Haar, David Rawlinson, Tim Woods, and Mark Thomson stimulating considerable discussion from professionals drawn from across Australia and even Fiji!

Among presenters at the event who called for more action and addressed the elephant in the room were Paul Haar, 2020 Sustainability Awards Lifetime Achievement winner, Willem Overbosch of SDG Align and 2022 NSW Sustainability Award finalist, Dr Geoff Woolcock, chair of the Australian National Development Index (ANDI) and Jane Hilliard, head designer of Designful.

Peter Stutchbury challenged attendees to embrace not just the physical but the social and spiritual dimensions of the built environment as part of a conversation with Talina Edwards of APHA.

Stutchbury, who won the Australian Institute of Architects’ prestigious Gold Medal in 2015 and is Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, spoke of his affinity for the land and the importance of true sustainability being more than a sum of materials and calculation of carbon.

Mark Thomson, project leader of the Commonwealth supported Furniture 360 initiative, spoke of the hazardous substances and chemicals of concern in everyday furniture and furnishings.

In another presentation BDAA supported Tools for Success, which was launched at the event – a tool that simplifies the National Construction Code and Australian Standards into simple and easy to understand interactive graphics. 

In addition, Andy Russell, General Manager of Proctor Group Australia, explored the new NCC Condensation Management Provisions around condensation and the emergence of leaky building syndrome in Australian dwellings.

The emergence of the dreaded leaky building syndrome has led to a leaky home crisis in New Zealand.

In total the festival featured more than 15 presenters, 5 master classes and 70 workshops, and was pre-recorded for thousands of BDAA members to view in the weeks and months to come.

The BDAA National Festival of Design was supported by Principal Partner Weathertex along with ICI (Australia), AWS, Lysaught and Colourbond, DDEG, James Hardie, Texo, Unitex, Webber Insurance Services, Keystone Lawyers, Hebel (CSR), My Building Certifier and Lifestyle Store.

Concrete and Steel, recognised by the famous Professor Alex de Rijke as the materials of the 19th and 20th century were strongly represented, alongside the material of the 21st century…timber!

Significantly, timber featured prominently across more than 30 categories in the 2022 BDAA National Design Awards – hosted by Australian broadcaster Libbi Gorr with 250 special guests on hand at the Melbourne Museum to celebrate the very best in Australian building design.

BDAA chief executive officer Chris Knierim said the festival was “an overwhelming success”.  

“It was fantastic to see so many people coming together to attend the face-to-face event, listening and learning from the industry experts flown in from across Australia. It was pleasing to see so many new faces too.”

He said the national conference had been running for many years and the organisation itself was flourishing.


  • Jason Ross

    Jason Ross, publisher, is a 15-year professional in building and construction, connecting with more than 400 specifiers. A Gottstein Fellowship recipient, he is passionate about growing the market for wood-based information. Jason is Wood Central's in-house emcee and is available for corporate host and MC services.


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