shared spaces

Ok, I’m going to write about this because I said I would, and it’s been over a week, and by the time this is scheduled to be published, it will have been two weeks, so I’m just gonna do it now.

At some time around the middle of March, I went to a panel discussion about women in architecture. I actually do remember seeing an ad for the talk somewhere, sometime ago, but I don’t know much about architecture, and I don’t have any specific interest in architecture, so, although I thought it might be interesting, I didn’t think about going. As it so happened, an architect friend of mine, who was going to go to the talk, and had tickets for it, sent out a group message the morning of the event, advising that she could no longer attend, and offering her tickets to whoever wished to take them.

This also happened to be the opening week-end of Brewsvegas as well as the final day of the World Science Festival, and I’d be out and about anyway, so, without really thinking about it, I accepted her offer, and she emailed the tickets over to me. After the eye-opening experience of attending one of the World Science Festival talks, I was pretty keen to see what insight this talk could give me. The event was also loosely tied in with International Women’s Day, which, if I remember correctly, had been the week before (?), and I thought that, if nothing else, my attendance would sort of be like a show of support for female architects. 

Two of the panellists were quite young but also (from what I understand of their careers) quite accomplished: Christina Cho and Ingrid Richards. Based on the background info that the host/facilitator gave us, both also seemed to be very ambitious and passionate about architecture. The third panelist, Gill Matthewson, is an editor/contributor on Parlour, a space for sharing resources and generating discussion about women in architecture.

And so it was an interesting discussion (held at the Brisbane Museum, may I add, which I have actually never visited before), and I feel like it was worthwhile, despite being outside of my professional and personal areas of interest.

Throughout the talk, I noted down a few things for further reading, like the Parlour Guides to Equitable Practice, and various facts, like the pay gap across all age groups (even when just starting out on the same footing, education- and experience-wise) men get paid more than women in architecture). But what I took away from this was more than facts and figures (and, if I’m honest, had little to do with what the talk was supposed to be about).

At the start of the talk, both Cho and Richards spent some time talking about the career paths they’ve taken, and the projects they’ve completed along the way. From what I remember, and from what I can decipher from my hastily written notes, they’ve both worked with public spaces, and are interested in how people interact with public spaces within their cities. Maybe it’s just me, but I always thought of architecture as pertaining to aesthetics and functionality (but mostly aesthetics), and never thought much about what I suppose is the deeper side of the profession.

Being a pharmacist who has at least some degree of enthusiasm for pharmacy, my mind sometimes links seemingly unrelated things back to pharmacy. For example, if we’re looking at drug selection, you want to look for something that has a good profile in terms of safety, pharmacokinetics, etc (the “attractive” things about a drug that can be likened (loosely) to aesthetics). However, you also want to look at the drug’s mechanism of action, cost-effectiveness, and other functional characteristics. And all of this is well and good, but this information is generally obtained from controlled studies. In practice, you have to consider who is actually going to use the drug (the actual, real interaction between the user and the product). It all makes sense, right?

Toward the end of the talk (or the scheduled end, since it seemed like they were going to continue for a while after I had to leave), they started talking about creative problem solving, and what keeps them motivated to continue working in the industry. One of them (can’t remember who) said something about “the romantic side of architecture” – that is, how the experience of creation, and the meaning behind the end product, is often more significant and more fulfilling than the end product itself. Of course, I relate to this more from the perspective of a writer than a pharmacist, but I’m sure it can be applied to pharmacy as well.

Consider this: if the end product is a health outcome (e.g. pain management, treating a rash, or controlling hypertension), and you go through steps (which may, at times, require creative problem solving) to achieve the outcome, is the process not as fulfilling as the end result? I’m sure I’m not the only one who never considered pharmacy to be in any way a “creative” profession, but I suppose that creation and the “thrill of completion” (as one speaker put it) can be applied to just about anything.

All in all, I’m not sure that I learnt a great deal about architecture and where it’s headed, but it was inspirational and thought-provoking, and, really, what more could I have asked for?

2 thoughts on “shared spaces

  1. Really enjoyed your take on pharmacy. There is something profoundly interesting to any profession when someone with some enthusiasm for it takes the time to explain.

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