The ACT Government Architect plays a pivotal role in the development of the ACT’s buildings and places through the leadership and independent strategic advice to government on architecture, planning and design related matters. In particular, the role promotes high quality design and a strong urban design agenda across all government agencies and to the private sector.
In August 2016, the Minister for Planning and Land Management announced the appointment of Ms Catherine Townsend as ACT Government Architect. Catherine brings a wealth of industry experience and expertise to this role such as her long term involvement in various industry forums and committees, Chair of the ACT Architects Registration Board, President of the Architect’s Accreditation Council of Australia and as an Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Arts and Design at the University of Canberra. Catherine is also co-Director of Townsend + Associates Architects, where she has attained an impressive list of industry awards and has contributed to a number of important advisory groups and tribunals such as 2003 Bushfire Recovery Taskforce, juror on the National Portrait Gallery Design Competition and advisor for the Canberra International Arboretum Design Competition.
The position of the ACT Government Architect is part-time and administrative support is provided by the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate (EPSDD).
Message from Catherine Townsend (ACT Government Architect)
Australia is one of the world's most urbanised countries, and Canberra is not alone in seeking better ways to nurture our physical environment: both natural and built. I am excited to work with the ACT Government to focus on improving quality of life for Canberrans through good design and creating great places.
Since my appointment, I have provided leadership and strategic advice for several projects being managed by the ACT Government, including Light Rail Stage 1, ACT Law Courts, City and Gateway Draft Urban Design Framework, Demonstration Housing initiative, draft Apartment Guidelines, review and upgrade of construction industry regulatory environment and master plans. In my role as ACT Government Architect, I also actively participate on several committees and I am an active member of the Government Architects Network of Australia (GANA).
As the ACT Government Architect, I have a particular focus to identify how government and industry can work together to improve the design and construction quality of development across our city. One initiative that I am particularly passionate about is the establishment of a city-wide and independent design review panel process. Design review panels are established in most jurisdictions across Australia and have proven to be beneficial for developers, design professionals, government and, importantly, the community. To this end, I have been working closely with the ACT Government and the National Capital Authority (NCA) to establish the interim National Capital Design Review Panel and look forward to this being formally established in the near future.
- ACT Planning Strategy
- Previous ACT Government Architect: Professor Alastair Swayn
- Government Architects Network of Australia
- Northern Territory Government Architect
- NSW Government Architect
- Office of Design and Architecture South Australia
- Office of the Queensland Government Architect
- Office of the Victorian Government Architect
- WA Government Architect
For more information about the ACT Government Architect or the interim National Capital Design Review Panel, contact: