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  • Crispin Till

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    Festival focuses on building design and unique style of the Tropics


    A festival that goes behind-the-scenes of the local architecture scene to reveal significant buildings and compelling design officially opens its doors in Cairns next week.

    The Cairns Architecture Festival from October 11-15 will once again feature the popular Open House, a free event providing locals and visitors alike the chance to explore various private homes and public buildings.

    The festival will also feature a screening of the documentary "Citizen Jane: Battle for the City" about the extraordinary battle waged by urbanist Jane Jacobs to save historic Greenwich Village in New York City back in the 1960s.

    Australian Institute of Architects FNQ chair Dr Shaneen Fantin said the festival, now in its third year, was a celebration of the strong community of architects in the Tropical North, both past and present.



    One of the buildings open as part of the festival is the Bishop's House on Abbott St, which Dr Fantin describes as a heritage listed example of an art deco design from the early 1900s.

    “Cairns’ architects have a commitment and a passion for design and we like to celebrate that and the festival helps us do that,” she said.

    “Open House is a national activity that occurs every year but over the past couple of years, we decided to claim the festival as our own and rebrand it.

    “The festival is a chance to come together, talk about architecture and design and a celebration around it.

    “We focus on education and advocacy around local buildings and access to buildings the public would not normally have.

    “A number of recently completed homes at the beaches will also be open, showing people examples of residential architecture and allow them to see beautifully designed tropical homes."


    To highlight the high percentage of registered female architects in Cairns - our city reportedly has the nation's highest proportion of female architects - a feature of this year’s festival will be a forum focusing on the growth in women joining the profession.

    “We don’t know for sure why we have so many female architects in Cairns,” Dr Fantin said.

    “The forum will be hosted by Parlour, a Melbourne-based group that is internationally recognised and focuses on women and equality in the architecture industry.”

    For event details, visit the festival website.