Philip Follent, Life Fellow of the RAIA, former Queensland Government Architect and inaugural Head of the Abedian School of Architecture, Bond University, was the inaugural Gold Coast City Architect, 2003-2008. During his tenure, he initiated the International Urban Design Conference, amplified the role of the fledgling Urban Design Awards and initiated education programs, advocacy and higher standards for Council’s own projects and libraries, attracting the AIA President’s Prize to the Council for urban design initiatives. He continues to advocate for the highest quality design outcomes for the City. This award, named by the City of Gold Coast after Philip Follent, recognises unbuilt, research-based works as a vehicle to progress the practice and influence of Urban Design. This award seeks propositions that are theoretically and aesthetically exceptional, not necessarily resolved.
The Architects’ Code of Practice calls on all members of the profession to demonstrate their duty of care to society and the environment, a commitment NOT to be compromised by obligations to their client. Architectural decisions impact on the built and natural environment for years beyond the life of client and architect. It is a privilege to build in a town or a city but architecture leaves a legacy that will be either valued, celebrated or at worst endured. Communities need professionals to be visible in the debate about the quality of the built environment and preservation of cultural heritage and the decisions that impact on social well-being. Philip Follent is recognised for his integrity and forthright advocacy for due planning processes and the facilitation of quality design processes, an enduring commitment that has been rewarded by AIA and Conservation Awards.
Judging and Peer Review
Philip is a member of the National judging panel for the AILA National Libraries Design Award. Inaugurated in 2017 the award attracted 33 entries in four categories: Public, School, University and Corporate libraries. Philip’s City Architect role from 2000 to 2008 helped facilitate a lift in the quality of city libraries such as Elanora, Nerang, Broadbeach. This mentorship, along with his long-standing public advocacy for the important civic value of libraries garnered the invitation from ALIA to join the national jury. It is rewarding to see Queensland do well in the awards with the M3 Architecture’s project St Joseph’s Nudgee College Hanly Learning Centre winning the schools category. Other Queensland architects commended/highly commended include: Complete Urban and Lahz Nimmo (Helensvale Library), Fulton Trotter (All Hallows), M3 Architecture (Brisbane Girls Grammar), PDT Architects (North Lakes).
Philip Follent’s experience in public art policy development, advisory panels and assessment has attracted invitation to consult to Arts Queensland to assess grant applications from emerging and established artists, arts organisations, writers and galleries.
Philip Follent provides independent architecture, heritage and urban design advice on “Gateway” assessment stages of major infrastructure projects in New South Wales.
Philip is the Co-Chair of the Australian Institute of Architects which follows his four years as Councillor on the Queensland Chapter Council. His enthusiasm and advocacy for the City of Gold Coast, along with his creating the International Urban Design Conference whilst as City Architect has helped attract the 2018 National AIA Conference. Philip is regularly approached for media commentary about development, architecture and planning from his professional perspective.
Now in its 15th year the Swell Sculpture Festival – People Place Architecture, is a hugely popular September Gold Coast moment where the public realm erupts along Currumbin Beach to delight thousands. Always in the last week of the third term to enable school children to participate, Swell presents around 55 sculptures/installations curated from over 100 expressions of interest from local, national and international artists. The Swell team is headed by Directors Natasha Edwards and Ruth Della with Philip Follent as Board Chairman. Swell consults on other satellite and city public art events including the forthcoming Commonwealth Games. Its core work however is to build art appreciation amongst the public, nurture and in some cases launch artistic careers, as well as build local capacity in arts event management, programming, installation and curatorial skills.
As Queensland Government Architect Philip, along with the Brisbane Development Association and the National Trust Queensland, initiated Brisbane Open House in 2010 to enable public access to the spaces and stories behind intriguing buildings. The purpose was to foster public engagement with the built environment and therefore an engaged community to value and if necessary defend, culturally important buildings and spaces as the city evolves. The event, now popular state-wide, has enjoyed continuous patronage by the Queensland Governor, who now offers Government House as a participant in the building line-up. The Gold Coast Open House began in 2015 with the AIA, the National Trust (Qld) and the City of Gold Coast as partners and in its third year will open 40 properties, a film night and speaker panel event.
As Gold Coast’s inaugural City Architect, Philip initiated the International Urban Design Conference in 2007. Coinciding also with the biennial Gold Coast Urban Design Awards the conference marked a turning point in the city’s appreciation of its contemporary urban design initiatives and the ability of the city to host meaningful dialogue about city shaping. Urban design is a cross-discipline activity drawing on the skills of practitioners from architecture, engineering, planning and landscape architecture, thus the conference continues after 10 years (every second year on the Gold Coast) to provide a unique forum for the urban design fraternity.
Tugun Lights Up for Christmas is a community event designed to enable discovery….discovery of one another, businesses and spaces in Tugun Village. It is however more than a Christmas event but intended to engage the public in spaces in a way they don’t normally experience. This primes people for future Master Planning and urban design propositions which require motivated participants and contributors to help shape more meaningful urban interventions.
Urban Design and Master Planning
Tropical Urbanism – Cairns City Image Study, National PIA Best Planning Idea – Small Project Award 2017, is a collaborative effort by Follent, Peddle Thorp, Tract and Cairns Regional Council. The study, now council policy, resolved appropriate building heights for north Cairns and the CBD, increasingly under pressure for high rise development. The study delivered far more than building height by determining a definition for tropical urbanism as manifested by built form, a contemporary vision that enables Cairns to be the City in a Rainforest, the inclusion of vertical gardens and importantly a city street changing ambience through the raised street awnings affectionately dubbed the Grand Verandah.