Advocacy and Policy - Office of the Government Architect

A key role of the OGA is to provide leadership regarding the benefits of good design and the impact of built environment issues on the community. The Office of the Government Architect establishes policy and practice frameworks to improve the quality of the built environment.

A wide range of advocacy activities are undertaken by the Office that engage with stakeholders across government as well as the public.

Good Design

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Good design is not a subjective idea; it can be defined and measured.

Notions of design quality extend beyond taste, style and appearance to encompass functionality, sustainability, response to context, structural integrity, flexibility in use, and cost efficiency, both during construction and over the life of the building. Most importantly, good design results in an environment that performs well for all users and the broader community.

“Good design refers to how things work, not just how they look.  Good design is about functionality, performance and build quality as much as innovation and creativity.  Good design delivers better value for money as well as better buildings, particularly when attention is paid to the full cost of a building over its lifetime…”

The State Government’s new State Planning Policy 7.0 Design of the Built Environment includes 10 principles that collectively form a definition of ‘good design’.

Why is good design important?

Improving the design quality of the built environment is proven to have a positive impact on communities. 

Research demonstrates that investment in good design generates significant economic and social value. Collectively, the studies provide evidence that good design has positive impacts in the areas of crime prevention, housing amenity and resident well-being, healthcare and patient recovery, education outcomes, and business productivity.

Design Standards

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In 2012, the OGA launched a suite of Design Standards which set minimum design requirements for the State Government’s public works projects.

The Design Standards are organised into four categories of facility type – General, Education, Health and Justice – and are currently under review to ensure they remain consistent with best practice.

Design Standard 01 - General (PDF 970 kb)
Design Standard 02 - Education (PDF 1 MB)
Design Standard 03 - Health (PDF 1 MB)
Design Standard 04 - Justice (PDF 1 MB)

Design Excellence Network

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The OGA hosts the Design Excellence Network which is a cross-government and industry collaboration that meets regularly to share valuable information, initiatives and research that contribute to achieving design excellence in the built environment.

The Design Excellence Network membership includes built environment and design experts from a range of state government agencies, local government authorities and peak industry bodies.

Perth Samplings

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The Perth Samplings Lecture Series is an advocacy initiative of the OGA where prominent local, national and international designers are invited to speak about architecture and urban design issues pertinent to our city.

The series is focussed on projects with a public dimension, providing a forum for dialogue and debate. The lecture series has been running since 2007 and has attracted a high calibre of speakers and strong attendance.

To find out about upcoming Perth Samplings events, join our mailing list.


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To support our advocacy work the OGA undertakes research to gather evidence of the value of good design; and identify contemporary best practice in design, effective processes and policies that lead to successful built environment outcomes.

The following are a selection of useful resources that the OGA often use in the course of our work.

Government Architect of New South Wales:
Better Placed – an integrated design policy for the built environment in NSW | Implementing Good Design | Greener Places | Design Excellence Competition Guidelines

Office of the Victorian Government Architect:
Government as Smart Client | Good Design | Good Design and Education 

NSW Department of Planning & Environment:
State Environmental Policy No 65 – Design Quality of Residential Flat Development | Apartment Design Guide

Australian Sustainable Built Environmental Council:
Australian Urban Design Protocol | Built to Perform | Improved Housing Outcomes

City of Sydney:
Competitive Design Policy

Design Council, UK:
The Value of Good Design | Design For Public Good | A Guide to Large Scale Urban Design | The Value of Public Space 

OGA Policy

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The Office of the Government Architect establishes policy and practice frameworks to improve the quality of the built environment.

Design WA

Design WA is an important planning reform initiative to create an integrated suite of policy measures that encourage and enable better design outcomes from our planning system.

The OGA has championed this reform since 2005 and has worked in close collaboration with the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage since 2013 to direct its development and implementation.

View the Design WA policy documents. 

Better Places and Spaces

‘Better Places and Spaces: A Policy for the Built Environment in Western Australia’ was released in 2013. The Policy confirms the State Government’s commitment and leadership role to improve the quality of built environment, raise awareness of the benefits of good design and recognise its role in achieving value for money.

Better Places and Spaces Policy (PDF 615 kb)

Page reviewed 16 September 2021