Kirsten completed her architectural qualifications at the University of Technology Sydney (1st Class Hons with the University of Medal). She registered as an architect in 1997 and has extensive practice experience (Suters Architects Snell, Ian Moore Architect, Stanisic Associates, City of Sydney, Orwell & Peter Phllips Architects, Crawford Partners). She ran her own practice, Kirsten Orr Architect, from 1998 to 2009, when she moved into academia full-time. Prior to joining the University of Tasmania she was Associate Professor in the School of Architecture at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) (1996–2015).
Dr Kirsten Orr is Professor and Head School Technology, Environments and Design. She is a registered architect (non-practising) in Tasmania (no. 997) and New South Wales (no. 6236). Her research and teaching balance traditional academic research with contemporary practice-based investigation and are underpinned by a deep interest in Australian architecture and material culture. This stretches from the nineteenth century, when the Australian colonies were on the cusp of nationhood, to today, when emergent technologies are rapidly transforming construction practices and challenging the way architects contemplate and manipulate architectural form, structure and material.
|Degree||Thesis Title||University||Date of Award|
|PhD||A Force for Federation: International Exhibitions and the Formation of Australian Ethos (1851-1901)||University of New South Wales||2006|
|BArch (First Class Hons & University Medal)||University of Technology Sydney||1995|
|Registered Architect |
|Registered Architect |
|New South Wales||1997|
2016 – : Elected Board Member, Architects Accreditation Council of Australia (AACA) Board of Directors
2016: President, Association of Architecture Schools of Australasia
2015–2016: President Elect / Member of the Executive Committee, Association of Architecture Schools of Australasia (AASA)
2015 – 2016: Chair, National Education Committee for the Australian Institute of Architects (Institute)
2015–2016: Member, National Panel to review the Australia and New Zealand Architecture Program Accreditation Procedure (ANZ APAP) — a joint project of the AACA and Institute
2015–2016: Chair, Australian Architectural Education and Competency Framework — a joint project of the AACA, Institute, Association of Architecture Schools Australasia (AASA) and Australian Deans of Built Environment & Design (ADBED)
2016: Member, Validation Executive Committee for the Commonwealth Association of Architects (CAA) — responsible for monitoring Commonwealth validation processes and validating individual architecture programs where necessary
2015 – : Member, Overseas Qualifications Assessment Review Panel for the Architects Accreditation Council of Australia (AACA)
2014–2015: Member, Steering Committee for the Australia and New Zealand Architecture Program Accreditation Procedure (ANZ APAP)
2013–2015: Elected member, NSW Chapter Council for the Institute (also 2002–2003)
2012–2015: Deputy Chair, National Education Committee for the Institute
2012–2015: Chair, NSW Education Committee for the Institute (and committee member 2008–2012)
2011–2012: Academic Member, Board of the NSW Architects Registration Board (NSW ARB)
2005–2010: Assessor, Review of Academic Equivalence Panel for the NSW ARB and AACA (also 2015)
2006–2008: Member, National Panel to review the National Competency Standards in Architecture (NCSA) for the AACA
2002 –2003: Chair, NSW Member Services Committee for the Institute (and also member of National Membership Committee)
Kirsten brings substantial professional leadership in the discipline of architecture underpinned by a comprehensive understanding of the complex interrelationships between the university sector, the architectural profession and the workings of State and Federal Government. She has held appointments to all of the major Australian government and professional bodies regulating the practice of architecture, the education of architecture students, and the accreditation of Australian architecture programs. She is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Architects.
Kirsten commenced as Head of the School of Architecture & Design in March 2016. Prior to joining the University of Tasmania, she was Associate Head of the School of Architecture at the University of Technology Sydney (2008–2012) and Course Director for the UTS Bachelor of Design in Architecture and Master of Architecture degrees. She was the Chair of the Construction Technology Strand in the UTS School of Architecture (2006–2015).
Architectural Design, Design Research, Architectural Detailing, Construction, Computer Numerically Controlled Fabrication Processes, Materials, Parametric Design
Kirsten's teaching seeks to strengthen the practice-based research skills and innovative mindsets that will enable her students to keep pace with, and push the boundaries of, architectural practice into the future.
In particular, she regularly integrates prototyping activities into her teaching to improve student learning. Prototyping is a specific form of inquiry-based learning in which 3D physical models are built from representative materials, often at full-scale, to explore design options, test theories and confirm performance. Such prototyping activities stimulate creativity and foster an effective learning environment by mediating between the virtual world of the computer screen and design principles, materials, fabrication processes and construction techniques. Kirsten's teaching integrates parametric design technologies (Rhinoceros© with Grasshopper© plug-in) with computer numerically controlled (CNC) fabrication technologies. This is enhanced by research-led teaching partnerships with industry and 'live' projects for community organisations. Such collaborations enrich student learning by emulating architectural practice and integrating all strands of disciplinary knowledge. They also have the potential to introduce new synergies and mindsets within the architectural profession and construction industry.
For example, a three-year project with Ku-ring-gai Municipal Council (2009–2011) culminated in the 2014 construction of a prototypical park structure to the students' design at Greengate Park in Killara, which was awarded the 2014 Parks and Leisure Australia Award for Open Space Development for NSW. In 2015, she established a partnership with Austral Bricks exploring innovative approaches to architectural detailing in brick — one of the most ubiquitous building materials in suburban Australia. In 2016-2017, she secured $165,000 New Colombo Plan scholarships to support the establishment of an immersive Vietnam study tour elective that introduces students from the STEAM disciplines at the University of Tasmania to forestry and agricultural practices, the supply chain, bamboo architecture, structural design and furniture/object manufacturing in Vietnam. Students engage with Vietnamese agriculturalists, architects, engineers and furniture makers in a process of cultural exchange that develops their deep understanding of Vietnamese practices and perspectives and local issues of environmental, cultural and social sustainability. They investigate opportunities to apply digital design and Computer Numerically Controlled fabrication technologies to enhance Vietnamese architecture and furniture/object design, construction methods, and manufacturing processes.
Kirsten's teaching has been supported by numerous university-funded Teaching and Learning Grants (2007, 2008, 2009, 2012) valued at $40,000. This has included funding to develop a digital tool to assist Master of Architecture student investigations into the design of innovative precast concrete elements. In 2011, she was awarded a UTS Learning & Teaching Citation for her integration of prototyping activities to improve student learning in architectural design and construction.
Kirsten's research has contributed particularly to understanding the development of Australian cultural institutions, urban innovation and architectural style. It fills crucial gaps in the history of late-nineteenth-century Sydney and the literature on Australian Federation by revealing the role of the built environment in the evolution of the city functions that led to Federation.
She has a track record of publication in the following distinct but related research areas:
- The architectural and urban consequences of the nineteenth-century Australian international exhibitions.
- The school buildings of William Edmund Kemp, NSW Architect for Public Schools, 1880–1896 and the relationships between nineteenth-century school building practice, the British-Australian system of primary education, and the broader quest to develop an 'Australian style' of architecture.
- Nineteenth-century civic architecture in NSW regional towns and the connections between civic architecture, political and social values and Australian Federation.
- Innovation and new technology in architectural design and construction.
- The research-teaching nexus in architectural education and prototyping as a form of inquiry-based learning.
- The regulation of the Australian architectural profession and how this supports or limits attempts at expanded agency within contemporary architectural design and development practices.
- Creative works of architecture with peer recognition.
Kirsten's research has been supported by several grants (2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2016) valued at more than $67,000. A UTS Early Career Researcher Grant ($25,000) supported her architectural investigation of the school buildings designed by W. E. Kemp (1880–1896). A research grant ($10,000) from the NSW Architects Registration Board supported her research into the regulation of Australian architectural practice and the discrepancies that exist in performance measures embedded in Australian processes for architectural registration and competency standards. A 2016 grant ($7,000) from the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering supported her development of partnerships with Vietnamese architects to share cross-cultural ideas about how digital design and Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) fabrication can add value to architecture in timber and bamboo, and address environmental and social sustainability issues.
Fields of Research
- Architectural History and Theory (120103)
- Architectural Design (120101)
- Architecture (120199)
- Architecture Management (120105)
- Architectural Science and Technology (incl. Acoustics, Lighting, Structure and Ecologically Sustainable Design) (120104)
- CAD/CAM Systems (091001)
- Understanding Australia's Past (950503)
- Pedagogy (930201)
- Expanding Knowledge in Built Environment and Design (970112)
- Education and Training (939999)
- Timber Materials (870305)
- Cement and Concrete Materials (870301)
- Understanding Europe's Past (950504)
- Justice and the Law (940499)
- Residential Construction Processes (870404)
- Workplace and Organisational Ethics (950409)
- Residential Construction Design (870204)
- Learner and Learning Processes (930102)
- Construction Design (870299)
Journal Article(14 outputs)
|2017||Orr K, 'Politics and school buildings: constructing an educational infrastructure for free trade New South Wales, 1889-1891', Fabrications, 27, (1) pp. 47-70. ISSN 1033-1867 (2017) [Refereed Article]|
Citations: Scopus - 1Web of Science - 1
|2017||Orr K, 'Todd Henderson, Kylee Scott, Peter Walker, Keith Westbrook: Cumulus Studio', Architecture Australia, March/April, (2) pp. 104-106. ISSN 0003-8725 (2017) [Professional, Non Refereed Article]|
|2016||Mulcahy L, Rowden E, Orr K, 'Making sense of law: pungency, feel and rhythm', Law, Culture and the Humanities pp. 1-3. ISSN 1743-9752 (2016) [Refereed Article]|
|2016||Orr K, 'The live project and prototyping as a paradigm for linking teaching and research in the architectural design studio', Brookes eJournal of Learning and Teaching, 8, (1-2) pp. 1-21. ISSN 1744-7747 (2016) [Contribution to Refereed Journal]|
|2016||Orr K, 'Eloquent in Speech: Joseph Hector McNeil Carruthers, NSW Minister of Public Instruction (1889-1891)', Journal of Australian Colonial History, 18 pp. 161-181. ISSN 1441-0370 (2016) [Refereed Article]|
|2013||Orr K, Bayl-Smith M, Prior J, 'Funding the future of architecture: harnessing the architect's potential for expanded agency within contemporary design and development practices', Architecture Bulletin, Summer pp. 14. ISSN 0813-748X (2013) [Professional, Non Refereed Article]|
|2012||Orr K, Bayl-Smith M, Prior J, 'Harnessing the architect's potential for expanded agency within contemporary design and development practices', Architecture Insights pp. 1-2. (2012) [Professional, Non Refereed Article]|
|2011||Orr K, 'Empire, education and nationalism: the school architecture of William Edmund Kemp, 1880-1896', Fabrications, 20, (2) pp. 60-85. ISSN 1033-1867 (2011) [Refereed Article]|
|2011||Orr K, 'Women exhibitors at the first Australian international exhibitions', Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History, 12, (3) pp. 1-10. ISSN 1532-5768 (2011) [Refereed Article]|
|2011||Orr K, 'Master class: final year studios from our four schools of architecture: concrete tectonics/University of Technology Sydney', Architecture Bulletin, Nov-Dec pp. 13. ISSN 0813-748X (2011) [Professional, Non Refereed Article]|
|2009||Orr K, 'W. E. Kemp's school buildings 1880-96: seed-germ of the Australian architecture of the future'?', Fabrications, 19, (1) pp. 96-121. ISSN 1033-1867 (2009) [Refereed Article]|
|2009||Orr K, 'Designing Sydney 1879-1891: visions of an antipodean South Kensington', Journal of Australian Colonial History, 11 pp. 147-166. ISSN 1441-0370 (2009) [Refereed Article]|
|2007||Orr K, 'The realisation of the Sydney Technical College and Technological Museum, 1878-92: aspects of their cultural significance', Fabrications, 17, (1) pp. 46-67. ISSN 1033-1867 (2007) [Refereed Article]|
|2007||Orr K, 'The Sydney General Post Office: a metaphor for Australian Federation', Limina, 13 pp. 66-79. ISSN 1324-4558 (2007) [Refereed Article]|
|2012||Orr K, Nicholas N, Tringali J, 'Concrete Tectonics II', UTSePress, Sydney, Australia, pp. 196. ISBN 9780987236982 (2012) [Authored Other Book]|
Chapter in Book(3 outputs)
|2015||Orr K, 'A little bit fancy: polychrome brickwork in late nineteenth-century Sydney', Materiality: Brick and Block in Contemporary Australian Architecture, Dry Press Publishing, R Ringer (ed), Sydney, Australia, pp. 396-397. ISBN 9780994165404 (2015) [Other Book Chapter]|
|2012||Orr K, 'Prototyping as a paradigm for linking teaching and research in the architectural design studio', Concrete Tectonics II, UTSePress, K Orr, N Nicholas, J Tringali (ed), Sydney, Australia, pp. 20-26. ISBN 9780987236982 (2012) [Other Book Chapter]|
|2002||Orr K, 'A force for urbanism and national identity: the evolution and impact of the nineteenth-century Australian international exhibitions', Identity and Universality - A commemoration of 150 years of Universal Exhibitions (Bulletin 2001 du Bureau International des Expositions), Bureau International des Expositions, V Barth (ed), Paris, pp. 37-58. ISBN 9782707169976 (2002) [Other Book Chapter]|
Conference Publication(23 outputs)
|2017||Davis K, Nolan G, Kotlarewski N, Orr K, 'What is the Potential for Australia's Plantation Hardwoods in Appearance Applications?', IUFRO Division 5 Conference 2017, 12-16 June 2017, Vancouver, Canada (2017) [Conference Extract]|
Co-authors: Davis K; Nolan G; Kotlarewski N
|2016||Orr K, 'Architecture and national identity in an era of globalisation: the rise and fall of the Sydney Exhibition Centre, Darling Harbour', Proceedings of the 13th Australasian Urban History Planning History Conference (UHPH 2016), 31 January - 03 February 2016, Surfer's Paradise, Queensland, pp. 327-339. ISBN 9780646956893 (2016) [Refereed Conference Paper]|
|2015||Orr K, 'The Live Project and prototyping as agents for collaboration and collective learning in the architectural design studio', Proceedings of the 8th International Conference and Exhibition of the Association of Architecture Schools of Australasia, 02-03 October 2015, Christchurch, New Zealand, pp. 187-196. ISBN 9780473337100 (2015) [Refereed Conference Paper]|
|2014||Duc E, Forsythe PJ, Orr K, 'Is there really a case for off-site manufacturing?', Proceedings of the 31st International Symposium on Automation and Robotics in Construction and Mining, 09-11 July 2014, Sydney, Australia, pp. 238-246. ISBN 978-0-646-59711-9 (2014) [Refereed Conference Paper]|
|2014||Gandhi S, Sankaran S, Er M, Orr K, Khabbaz H, 'Developing technology-assisted multi-disciplinary learning strategies', Proceedings of the 31st International Symposium on Automation and Robotics in Construction and Mining, 09-11 July 2014, Sydney, Australia, pp. 346-353. ISBN 9780646546100 (2014) [Refereed Conference Paper]|
|2013||Orr K, 'News of the day: open schoolhouses building the future of New South Wales, 1880-1896', Proceedings of the 30th Annual Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand, 02-05 July 2013, Gold Coast, Australia, pp. 499-514. ISBN 9780987605504 (2013) [Refereed Conference Paper]|
|2013||Orr K, ' Hail Australia': Joseph H. Carruthers and education 1889-1891', Proceedings of Architecture at the Ragged Edge of Empire: Race, Place, Taste and the Colonial Context, 27-28 June 2013, Brisbane, Australia, pp. 1-8. (2013) [Non Refereed Conference Paper]|
|2013||Orr K, 'The courthouse as a vehicle for the transposition of values', Evidence of Bodies / Bodies of Evidence Symposium Proceedings, April 2013, Sydney, Australia, pp. 1-10. (2013) [Non Refereed Conference Paper]|
|2012||Orr K, ' The old bark school is gone there's a brick school on the flat': reflections on the fitness for purpose of William E. Kemp's school buildings', Proceedings of Fabulation: Myth, Nature, Heritage, 29th Annual Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand (SAHANZ), 05-08 July 2012, Launceston, Tasmania, pp. 824-846. ISBN 9781862956582 (2012) [Refereed Conference Paper]|
|2011||Orr K, 'The public face of elementary education in New South Wales', Audience: proceedings of the XXVIIIth International Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand, 07-10 July 2011, Brisbane, Australia, pp. 1-16. ISBN 9780646558264 (2011) [Refereed Conference Paper]|
|2010||Orr K, 'In memoriam the Sydney International Exhibition, 1879: enduring urban and cultural legacies', City and Society in European History: Proceedings of the Xth International Conference on Urban History, September 2010, Ghent, Belgium, pp. 1-7. (2010) [Non Refereed Conference Paper]|
|2010||Orr K, 'The School Architecture of William Edmund Kemp: expressions of an emerging Australian identity', Architecture, Design and the Nation: Proceedings of the first Theoretical Currents conference, September 2010, Nottingham Trent University, pp. 243-248. (2010) [Non Refereed Conference Paper]|
|2009||Orr K, 'Courageous architecture: technological expression in Paris as a cultural provocateur', Tekhne, Technique, Technologies: Proceedings of the 17th Annual Conference of the Australian Society for French Studies, July 2009, Brisbane, Australia, pp. 1-36. (2009) [Non Refereed Conference Paper]|
|2008||Orr K, 'Experiential learning in architectural education: model-making in the digital age', Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Experiential Learning (ICEL 2008): Identity of Experience: Challenges for Experiential Learning, 08-12 December 2008, Sydney, Australia, pp. 1-8. (2008) [Non Refereed Conference Paper]|
|2008||Orr K, 'Colonial ambition and city development: the influence of commissioners for the 1879 international exhibition on Sydney's architectural identity', History in practice: proceedings of the 25th International Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians Australia and New Zealand, 03-06 July 2008, Geelong, Australia, pp. 1-32. ISBN 9780958192545 (2008) [Refereed Conference Paper]|
|2007||Orr K, 'Thinking beyond the square: innovation theory and technology transfer as they apply to the Beijing Water Cube', Techniques and Technologies: Transfer and Transformation: Proceedings of the IVth International Conference of the Association of Architecture Schools of Australasia, 27-29 September 2007, Sydney, Australia, pp. 1-7. ISBN 9780980284041 (2007) [Refereed Conference Paper]|
|2007||Orr K, 'An exhibit calculated to elevate and ennoble: celebration and suppression of natural landscape in nineteenth-century urban visions of Sydney', Panorama to Paradise: Scopic Regimes in Architectural and Urban History and Theory: XXIVth Annual Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand (SAHANZ), 21-24 September 2007, Adelaide, South Australia, pp. 1-13. ISBN 9781920927554 (2007) [Refereed Conference Paper]|
|2007||Orr K, 'Experiential learning in construction technology', UTS Learning and Teaching Forum Programme, 14-15 November 2007, Sydney, Australia, pp. 1-6. (2007) [Conference Extract]|
|2007||Orr K, Kaji-O'Grady S, 'Editors: Techniques and Technologies: Transfer and Transformation: Proceedings of the IVth Annual Conference of the Association of Architecture Schools of Australasia 2007', UTSePress, September 2007, Sydney, Australia ISBN 9780980284041 (2007) [Conference Edited]|
|2006||Orr K, 'The Sydney General Post Office: a metaphor for Australian Federation', Nation City Place: Rethinking Nationalism Abstracts, July 2006, Melbourne, Australia, pp. 1-8. (2006) [Conference Extract]|
|2006||Orr K, 'The other half: women at the Australian international exhibitions (1879, 1880 & 1888)', Proceedings of Seize the Day: Exhibitions, Australia and the World, October 2006, Melbourne, pp. 1-15. (2006) [Non Refereed Conference Paper]|
|2005||Orr K, 'The festive city: orta recens quam pura nites (recently arisen, how purely you shine)', Celebration: proceedings of the 22nd annual conference of the Society of Architectural Historians Australia and New Zealand (SAHANZ), 24-27 September 2005, Napier, New Zealand, pp. 285-290. ISBN 0473103494 (2005) [Refereed Conference Paper]|
|2002||Orr K, 'A force for urbanism and national identity: nineteenth-century Australian international exhibitions and their domestic exhibits', Additions to architectural history: proceedings of the XIXth annual conference of the Society of Architectural Historians Australia and New Zealand (SAHANZ), 04-07 October 2002, Brisbane, Australia, pp. 1-14. ISBN 1864996471 (2002) [Refereed Conference Paper]|
Contract Report, Consultant's Report(3 outputs)
|2015||Orr K, 'Stage 2 Internal Audit of Architects Accreditation Council of Australia Processes in Migration Assessments', Consulting Research for the Architects Accreditation Council of Australia, Australia (2015) [Contract Report]|
|2014||Orr K, 'Stage 1 internal audit of Architects Accreditation Council of Australia processes in migration assessments', Consulting Research for the Architects Accreditation Council of Australia, Australia (2014) [Contract Report]|
|2006||Thomas L, Tonkinwise C, Orr K, 'Consulting research for Investa Residential Parklea Sustainability Display Centre', Investa Property Group, Broadway, NSW, C06 11 004 (2006) [Contract Report]|
Major Creative Work(2 outputs)
|2017||Orr K, Raisbeck P, Bayl-Smith M, 'Salon on standards: setting the standard - the National Standard of Competency for Architects', New South Wales Architects Registration Board, University of Technology Sydney, 1 (2017) [Broadcast]|
|2015||Orr K, 'Institutionalising national standards: a history of the incorporation of the Architects Accreditation Council of Australia (AACA) and the National Competency Standards in Architecture (NCSA)', Australian Institute of Architects, Sydney, Australia, pp. 12 (2015) [Published Creative Work]|
|2012||Orr K, 'Francis-Jones, Richard (1960-)', Encyclopaedia of Australian Architecture, P Goad, J Willis (ed), Port Melbourne, 1, pp. 262 (2012) [Entry]|
|2012||Orr K, 'Spain and Cosh (1904-1938)', Encyclopaedia of Australian Architecture, P Goad, J Willis (ed), Port Melbourne, 1, pp. 644-645 (2012) [Entry]|
|2008||Orr K, 'Sydney International Exhibition, Sydney, 1879-1880', Historical Dictionary of World's Fairs and Expositions, 1851-1988 (2nd ed), JE Findling, KD Pelle (ed), North Carolina, 1, pp. 65-67 (2008) [Entry]|
Grants & Funding
Number of grants
- Vietnam is known for its low-cost labour, strong work ethic, excellent craftsmanship and plentiful timber and bamboo. Increasing urbanisation and improving living standards demand a better quality built environment. However, local industry lacks the knowledge and access to advanced design and fabrication technologies to enhance quality and efficiency. This project investigates how digital design and Computer Numerically Controlled fabrication technologies can address environmental and social sustainability issues in Vietnam. It explores opportunities to innovate and add value to Vietnamese uses of timber and bamboo across Architecture, Design and Engineering disciplines.
- Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering ($7,000)
- Grant - Global Connections Fund Priming Grant
- Administered By
- University of Tasmania
- Research Team
- Orr K; Norrie H
|PhD||Potential for Advanced Digital Design and Fabrication Workflows in Small/Medium Scale Planer Timber Construction System||2016|
|PhD||Healthy Built Fabric Systems for Zero Energy Residential Buildings||2017|
|PhD||Designing out Risk in Technology Transfer: Prototyping innovative applications of timber in complex buildings||2017|