Aikon-1 robot sketch via Patrick Tresset and Frederic Fol Leymarie/Goldsmiths

Aikon-1 robot sketch via Patrick Tresset and Frederic
Fol Leymarie/Goldsmiths

Dr Davina Jackson is an international writer and promoter of progressive and historical cultural themes, based in Sydney.

She is a Visiting Research Fellow with the Computing department at Goldsmiths College, University of London, and writes and edits books for British publishers Thames and Hudson, Routledge and Lund Humphries. All her publications are listed here.

Davina’s recent projects include:

—A PhD and book on Douglas Snelling, Britain’s most significant South Pacific interpreter of California modern design and organic architecture innovations from the 1930s to the 1970s (2003–2017).

—Curating exhibitions and editing books and websites promoting major new technology phenomena: SuperLux: Smart Light Cities, Spaceship Earth and D_City (Data Cities) at the City of Sydney’s Customs House (2008–2015).

—Catalysing a global network of data cities experts aiming to help solve the climate change challenges of urban development (launched in Sydney October 2008, see websites D_City and Virtual Australia and New Zealand; archived with the National Library of Australia’s PANDORA collection).

—Co-editing the world’s first manifesto for the Global Earth Observations System of Systems movement to apply satellite imagery and environmental simulations to the challenges of managing our planet. This 2012 report was research-sponsored by the University of New South Wales, NICTA and Austrade then print-sponsored by the Group on Earth Observations in Geneva for distribution to Asia-hosted conferences of geospatial scientists and city government policymakers in 2013 and 2014. This project won her an honorary life membership of the International Society for Digital Earth (based in Beijing), in 2016.

—Strategy partner for international light art engineer Mary-Anne Kyriakou’s eco-ethical Smart Light festivals (Smart Light Sydney/Vivid in 2009 and Smart Light Singapore/ iLight Marina Bay in 2010 and 2012).

After first-year politics and economics studies at Auckland University in 1973, Davina trained as a newspaper reporter in Auckland, New Zealand and arrived in Sydney in the late 1970s. After a few months with Rupert Murdoch’s now-defunct Daily Mirror, she became a stylist, writer and architecture editor for Australian House & Garden, Belle, Vogue Living, The Sydney Morning Herald and several international interior design magazines.

In mid-1992 she curated the Synthesis: Art + Architecture exhibitions in Sydney, involving 24 cross-disciplinary creative teams with ideas for reinvigorating Sydney’s public spaces. This project introduced several artists to architects who later recommended them for significant city sculptural commissions. In 1999, she produced the 40UP: Australian Architecture’s Next Generation exhibition, which was shown at design centres in Hamburg and Berlin in 2000.

In 1992, she began editing the Royal Australian Institute of Architects’ journal, Architecture Australia, where she witnessed and influenced the 1990s property development boom leading up to the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. She summarised the architecture of those eight years in Australian Architecture Now (Thames and Hudson, 2000, co-editor Chris Johnson).

In 1997 she received from the University of New South Wales an M.Arch degree in architectural history and theory for a thesis titled @Home: Another Revolution in Architecture’s Theory of the House which examined esoteric theories about the history and future of domestic living and architecture. While studying, she sub-edited a book of 39 academic papers on future cities: Peter Droege (ed) Intelligent Environments: Spatial Aspects of the New Information Revolution (North Holland/Elsevier, 1997).

From 2002-2005, Davina chaired the Venice Architecture Biennale Task Force, successfully lobbying both the Australia Council and the (then-Royal) Australian Institute of Architects to end their 20-year political impasse preventing Australia from exhibiting in the nation’s permanent pavilion at Venice Architecture Biennales.

In 2005 she was appointed as a NewSouth Global Associate Professor of Multi-Disciplinary Design, advising leaders of three faculties on cross-collaborations and research potentials towards a ‘national and global digital cities network’. Widely known internationally by its trademark/masthead d_city, this project was launched in Sydney in October 2008, during the Metropolis World Association of Major Cities congress, at an event sponsored by the NICTA research organisation, three government departments and the City of Sydney’s Customs House.

Her studies on the history of 20th century architecture helped to inform her recent obituary of Jørn Utzon, architect for the Sydney Opera House. First published in The Australian, it was included in the Australian Academy of Humanities’ Proceedings 2009 for circulation to its Fellows.

Davina is married to Chris Johnson, a former New South Wales Government Architect and now CEO of the Urban Task Force (a development advocacy group).

Cub reporter in Auckland circa 1970s.
With Public Works Minister Morris Iemma on the NSW Construct Improvement Round Table, 2000.
Australian Home Journal lighting shoot mid 1980s.
Briefing Berlin reporters about contemporary Australian architecture, 2000.
Masters graduation at University of New South Wales with husband Chris Johnson and father in law Peter Johnson, 1997.
Professor Lu Yongxiang, president of the International Society for Digital Earth and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, endorses the d_city global network concept, in Beijing 2009.
Live-wire style for a Belle 'future of design' special issue, photo Tim Bauer, 1990.
With Mary-Anne Kyriakou, left, Joe Snell, right, and our production team at the media launch of Smart Light Sydney/Vivid festival, 2009.