Louise Cox practiced architecture at McConnel Smith and Johnson (MSJ) starting in 1968, becoming a director in 1980 and leading the advancement of heritage and health care design through the delivery of many significant projects in Australia and Malaysia.
Louise dedicated sixty years of service to profession through many organisations and government boards. After joining as a student member in 1963, from 1986 to 1996, she was highly involved in the Royal Australian Institute of Architects (RAIA), serving on numerous local and national committees. In 1996, she was a UIA Council member and was elected UIA President from 2008 to 2011.
Her work on behalf of the UIA has encompassed key roles in the development of the Architectural Education and Validation documents with UNESCO, the UIA Education Policy Paper, the updating of the UIA XXth Centuary Heritage System with the French Ministry of Culture and Communications, with UNESCO on the Historic Urban Landscape Policy and with UN-HABITAT on the World Urban Campaign-WUC whilst chairing the Habitat Professionals Forum-HPF.
When and how did you first take part in volunteer international activity?
I originally became interested in international architectural organisations when I worked in London, UK, in 1964 and 1965 for Chamberlin Powell & Bon and I attended talks at the RIBA. I became a member in 1966.
Through Peter Johnson and David Jackson, with whom I worked at McConnel Smith and Johnson in Sydney, Australia, who both became President of the RAIA and then each President of CAA (Commonwealth Association of Architectes), I also met CAA members and members of the Architects Regional Council Asia (ARCASIA).
I first met UIA Bureau Members and CAA Executive Members in Sydney, Australia in 1983 at the RAIA National Convention and in 1985 at the CAA Conference in Jamaica. I went to China in 1984 for a tour of three weeks with five other architects sponsored by the Architectural Society of China and we were greeted in Beijing by Professor Wu Liang Yong and Mr Zhang Qinnan, having met them in Sydney in 1983.
In 1989, we toured India with our two girls, 7 and 10, and attended the CAA Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
My first official UIA international activity was at the UIA 1990 Congress in Montreal, Canada, as part of the Australian Delegation. I have attended every UIA Congress since then, including the 50 year anniversary of UIA in Lausanne, Switzerland in 1998.
I really enjoyed meeting delegates from other countries at all these organisations. The more I was involved the more I enjoyed learning from other architects, and learning about their cultures. I have enjoyed so much experience, from small to enormous projects, as well as my interest in the profession and professional organisations that I felt that I had to give back to the profession locally and internationally and share all my knowledge of architecture practice that I have learnt over the last 60 years.
What did UIA and international work give to you and what did you learn?
I am very proud of what I managed to achieve for UIA, with UNESCO, UN-HABITAT, Emergency Architects, ICOMOS, DOCOMOMO and my liaison and connections with all the other like international organisations, as well as meeting so many of our member sections globally. This enriched my life and understanding of other cultures, especially the discussions at round tables with all our international partners.
What is your inspiration for the profession?
We all must work together for an equitable green and stable environment. Climate change, sustainability and heritage go hand in hand. We have an enormous responsibility to lead in these areas by example. Our education allows us to listen and learn across the board from the arts to the sciences and we must maintain and upgrade our skills all the time.
There is hope, and we can all reach for the stars. We must take all the opportunities handed to us, whether big, small, or minute. I have taken the opportunities offered to me. You do not need to understand “why”, it is self evident; you just sense it. It is important that none of us forget where we are from and that in not forgetting we recognise the risks when asserting our identity of eclipsing or excluding the identity of others.
I would inspire all architects, especially women, in our great profession to share what they know, the more you share the more you learn. I have learnt more from students than from the profession; they are on the cutting edge of current practice. We must upgrade and try new methods of managing, through pandemics and the like, and increase our connection with others using the latest technologies, as we cannot travel internationally. It is our responsibility to lead by example, together.
Thank you, Louise, for your commitment to the profession and your service to the UIA.
For more information about the
UIA International Women in Architecture Committee