HOW DID WE GET HERE?
The Australasian Student Architecture Congress (ASAC) began in 1961 as an informal pub crawl of inspired architecture students, and it’s been growing ever since. Along the way we’ve built a big hat in Auckland to test whether Australian building techniques would work in our climate, we’ve crammed 88 presentations into three days at Victoria University in Wellington, we’ve built domes in the bush and we’ve managed to survive more than 50 years thus far. We’ve evolved from a small rowdy bunch of kids who want to change the world - to a full-on biennial student conference of rowdy students that keeps expanding every year. Buckminster Fuller once said that he’d never seen a more significant and meaningful meeting of students, and to quote Neil Spiller directly: “If a conference is deemed successful for educating, delighting and inspiring, whether architectural, socially or philosophically, then this was one successful conference.”
We’re run on the enthusiasm and dedication of a volunteer committee, rotating every two years, and self organised with 18-months of full speed planning, without institutional prompting, or guaranteed funding pool. Each of these congresses / conferences / conventions / festivals / parties / carnivals is a small yet significant miracle.
The most recent shindig was in Sydney - AGENCY2017. Central to AGENCY was a series of workshops, design/builds, lectures and pub debates which were attended by invited academics, designers and architects from around Australasia, and the globe. AGENCY was a discussion on the impatient nature of capital, and how it will require us to question the very foundations of our education, practice and the potential architecture as a catalyst for socio-economic development. As pleaded valiantly by Peter Nguyen (USYD) on the final evening of Congress, “I hope this weekend is a call to action to do something about our current industry. We can’t keep letting them win. We have to do something.”
Peter, Jiri Lev (UoN) and Estelle Rehayem (UNSW/UTS) then announced the next Congress winners would be holding the Congress in Christchurch - the popular vote won with a pitch proclaiming a Congress alongside a weekend of skiing and with an in-built craft-beer pub crawl.
DISSENT2019 was born, and has been growing from discussions we’ve been having everyday since.