Alastair Swayn was a man passionate about design, not just in his chosen profession of architecture but every aspect of design, and how it enriches and informs our lives. Alastair was dedicated to the growth and development of Canberra, ensuring that design and contemporary thinking was at the forefront of decision making in positioning Canberra as a ‘new world city’.
A prominent figure in architecture, Alastair was a founding director of the highly acclaimed architectural practice, Daryl Jackson Alastair Swayn (DJAS). He made a significant contribution to public life as President, Senior Councillor and Life Fellow of the Australian Institute of Architects, Professorial Fellow at the University of Canberra, and most significantly the position of inaugural ACT Government Architect. For his distinguished service to architecture in the ACT, he was posthumously appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 2017.
Alastair’s own design ethos resonates deeply with DESIGN Canberra’s 2020 theme of Care. He regarded architecture as a servant of people and their communities rather than as an end in itself. His architecture style reflected light, colour and humanity, believing that people were born equal and have the right to be heard equally. He was proud that this emanated through all his commercial and public service buildings, where occupants and visitors are treated equitably and not subjected to a defined structural hierarchy. Alastair understood that architecture and design is a genuine way of approaching humanity, with equal consideration of and contribution from all.
Before Alastair’s death in 2016, he generously bequeathed his estate to a foundation in his name, the Alastair Swayn Foundation. The Foundation encourages and supports talented and innovative Australian designers through a range of funding initiatives, providing opportunities to pursue excellence for the enrichment of knowledge in architecture and design disciplines in Australia.