Modernism on show highlights new paths to architecture

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A new exhibition on European architects in post war Australia explores the contribution made by immigrants who were welcomed to a foreign land with new rules. “The Moderns: European Designers In Sydney” opened at the Museum of Sydney in July and will run until November 2017 thanks to Sydney Living Museums.

At the centre of the exhibition is the work of renowned architects like Hugh Buhrich, and his wife, designer Eva Buhrich; Gabor Lukacs and Hans Peter Oser. All of those featured arrived in Sydney in the years following World War II and were ‘naturalized’. Many assumed their European qualifications were sufficient to be registered as architects in Australia. 

But original documents shared by the NSW Architects Registration Board for the exhibition show that some new immigrants and their home universities were surprised to learn that where their degrees were not recognised by Australian authorities, they were required to sit an exam testing seven areas including:

  1. Design
  2. Constructional design
  3. Building services and equipment
  4. Drainage and sanitation
  5. Town planning
  6. History of architecture
  7. Professional practice

Many were successful and went on to lengthy architectural careers. Some, like Hungarian émigré Stephen Gergely was registered in 1961 and is still practising today. Lukacs and Oser were registered before the war ended in 1945.

But not surprisingly, much has changed since the 50’s.

Take Cesar Taboada who arrived in Australia with architectural qualifications gained in Peru. After being told his overseas degree was not equivalent to an Australian qualification, Cesar gained local experience with architectural firms prior undertaking a pathway designed for his particular circumstances. Cesar registered last year via a pathway designed for someone without an approved qualification in architecture. In NSW, this pathway is called the Built Work Program of Assessment. There's lots of stories like Cesar's.

“The really good news for anyone recognised as an architect in their home country is that it’s now even easier to have international qualifications and experience recognised here. So too for those who have gained the competencies of an architect through experience”, said Mae Cruz, Registration and Education Lead with the NSW Architects Registration Board. 

“The path to registration is unrecognisable from just 2 years ago”, said Cruz. “Because we have a National Standard of Competency for architects, it means we have an objective threshold test that asks ‘do you have the competencies set by the Standard’? Where once it was assumed you had studied, worked and trained here, the reality in a global marketplace is very different. And where there was once only one path, there are now half a dozen tailored to every circumstance.”

To find out more on the many pathways to register as an architect in NSW, follow the links at