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Women and Architecture

2:00 PM – 4:30 PM
Saturday 13 October 2018

Camilla Block, Director, Durbach Block Jaggers, 5–9 Roslyn Street, Kings Cross, 2009. Photographer: Julia Charles. Contributor: Camilla Block



SESSION 1: 2:00 PM–3:00 PM


Susan Wyndham (journalist, author, and former literary editor of The Sydney Morning Herald): moderator; with Helen Pitt (The House), Kristina Olsson (Shell), Anne Watson (The Poisoned Chalice: Peter Hall and the Sydney Opera House).

Authors of new works on the Sydney Opera House – a journalist, a novelist and an academic – take on the intriguing story of the Opera House’s construction on the 45th anniversary of its opening in October 1973. We learn new details of the controversy surrounding Jorn Utzon’s design, delve into the tragic story of architect Peter Hall, who took on the project after Utzon’s resignation, and discuss a novel that takes the tumultuous ‘60s and the Opera House as its backdrop.



Tea and coffee are served with an assortment of pastries, fruit, canapés and other gourmet bites in the SCCI garden courtyard.


SESSION 2: 3:30 PM–4:30 PM


Andrew Cameron (arts philanthropist and qualified architect): moderator; with architects Penelope Seidler AM (Harry Seidler & Associates), Abbie Galvin (BVN), Camilla Block (Durbach Block Jaggers)

Early to mid career and distinguished architects discuss their experiences as women in a profession with a high level of gender inequality. What are the challenges and barriers faced, and how can these be addressed structurally within the architecture profession in a way that promotes positive change, acknowledges the often neglected contribution of women historically and in the present day, and enables women to flourish and take their rightful place alongside their male counterparts?


Followed by the short film:

Unknown New York: The City That Women Built
Dir: Beverly Willis, USA, 2018, 17 mins

Unknown New York showcases 234 major building projects in Manhattan that were designed, engineered and built by women, highlighting their little known contribution to the New York City skyline.



Booking Information

  • Bookings are essential
  • Tickets are free
  • However, if you book and don't attend your credit card will be charged $40. (Tickets are transferrable if you can't make it).
  • Tickets available September

This ticket covers the two Women and Architecture sessions, Writers on the Opera House and Women in Architecture: Making Change and short film: Unknown New York: They City That Women Built. This event is booked through SCCI.

Women and Architecture
Saturday 13 October 2018
2:00 PM – 4:30 PM
SCCI 20 Goodhope Street Paddington


Susan Wyndham

Susan Wyndham is a journalist, writer and former literary editor of The Sydney Morning Herald. She is the author of Life in His Hands: the true story of a neurosurgeon and a pianist, editor of My Mother, My Father: on losing a parent, and a contributor to several books. Her current work includes reviewing books for The Australian, the New York Times and other publications, moderating literary events and judging book awards.

Helen Pitt

Helen Pitt is a Sydney Morning Herald journalist who has worked as the opinion and letters editor at Australia’s oldest daily metropolitan newspaper where she began her career in 1986. She has visited Denmark twice researching her book. The House about the Sydney Opera House published by Allen and Unwin (2018). She has worked as a writer for The Bulletin magazine, in California for New York Times Digital, and in France as a television reporter at Euronews. In 1992 she was selected to take part in the Journalists in Europe program in Paris. Her feature writing has won the Austcare Media award and been highly commended in the UN Media Peace prize.

Camilla Block

Camilla Block graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Architecture (Hons) in 1991, and joined Neil Durbach in practice in 1992. In 1998, the office of Durbach Block Architects was established. Camilla has been a design principal in all of the major projects of Durbach Block Jaggers, including Tamarama House, UTS Thomas Street Science Building, Roslyn Street Kings Cross, the Brickpit Ring, Homebush Bay North Bondi Surf Life Saving Club, House Holman, House Spry, Commonwealth Place, Canberra and Sydney Amenities Buildings Homebush Bay.

Durbach Block Jaggers has received a number of awards for residential, commercial and institutional work, including the Robin Boyd AIA National Award for Residential Architecture and AIA Wilkinson NSW Award for Residential Architecture three times.

Camilla Block has taught, lectured, exhibited, judged awards and been published both nationally and internationally. In 2014, Camilla received an Honorary Appointment as Adjunct Professor from UTS: University of Technology, Faculty Design Architecture and Building.

Kristina Olsson

Kristina Olsson is the author of the novel In One Skin (2001) and the biography Kilroy Was Here (2005). Her second novel, The China Garden (2009), received the 2010 Barbara Jefferis Award for its empowering depiction of women in society and was also shortlisted for the Kibble Literary Award. Kristina’s non-fiction work Boy, Lost: A Family Memoir (2013) won the 2014 Kibble Literary Award, the 2014 NSW Premier’s Literary Award Douglas Stewart Prize for Non-fiction, the 2013 Queensland Literary Award for Best Non-fiction, and the 2014 Western Australia Premier's Book Award for Non-fiction. It was also shortlisted for the 2014 Stella Prize, the 2014 Victorian Premier's Literary Awards for Non-fiction, and the 2013 Australian Human Rights Commission Literature Award. Kristina’s journalism and non-fiction have been published in The Australian, The Courier-Mail, The Sunday Telegraph and Griffith REVIEW. She has worked extensively as a teacher of creative writing and journalism.

Penelope Seidler AM

Penelope Seidler AM LFRAIA, is the CEO of Sydney-based architectural firm Harry Seidler & Associates; a Life Fellow of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects, since 1983, RAIA Wilkinson Award 1967, joint winner with Harry Seidler for their own house in Killara, now listed on the NSW Heritage Register and RAIA National Interior Architecture Award 1991, joint winner with Harry Seidler for Penthouse, 2a Glen Street, Milsons Point.

Seidler studied for her Bachelor of Architecture at the University of Sydney and was registered as an architect in 1964. She joined Seidler and Associates that year as architect and financial manager. Seidler was a Founding Member of Chief Executive Women (NSW) from 1990 to 2005.

In 1971 Seidler joined the Art Gallery of NSW Society's council being one of the first "volunteer guides" to show visitors around for a group of women who undertook a year's high-level training in the arts, which was an educational initiative where the gallery's popular lecture series grew.

Dr Anne Watson

Anne Watson has an MA (Fine Arts) and a PhD (Architecture) from Sydney University. She was formerly curator of architecture and design at the Powerhouse Museum and has been an independent curator/writer since 2008. The curator of many design exhibitions, including ‘Utzon’s Masterpiece: the Sydney Opera House’ at the Utzon Center, Aalborg, Denmark in 2008, she has also been the author/editor of a number books, notably Beyond Architecture: Marion Mahony and Walter Burley Griffin in America, Australia and India (1998); Building a Masterpiece: the Sydney Opera House (2006/2013); and Visionaries in Suburbia: Griffin Houses in the Sydney Landscape (2015). Most recently she published The Poisoned Chalice: Peter Hall and the Sydney Opera House (opusSOH, 2017) based on her 2014 doctoral thesis.

Abbie Galvin

Abbie Galvin is currently a Principal, Director and shareholder of BVN, one of Australia’s largest and most highly acclaimed architectural practices.

Abbie has worked for over 25 years on public, educational, health, research and workplace projects that have been highly awarded, published and recognised internationally for bringing fresh approaches to common project types.

Amongst her portfolio of work are the new Northern Beaches Hospital, the Cancer Research Institute for the UniSA, Taronga Zoo Upper Entrance Precinct, the Braggs Research Institute for the University of Adelaide, Stockland’s Headquarters, The UTS Campus 2020 Masterplan, the HMAS Creswell Redevelopment in Jervis Bay, The National Life Sciences Hub at Charles Sturt University Wagga Wagga and two of NSW’s largest Public Private Partnerships (RNS and NBH Hospitals).