Dr Davina Jackson is an international writer and promoter of creative applications of post-internet technology for urban development, and pan-Pacific architecture and history.
Educated in Auckland and based in Sydney, she writes and edits books for British publishers Thames and Hudson, Routledge and Lund Humphries, and produces websites, exhibitions, chapters, articles, papers and lectures on themes she has named ‘viral internationalism’, ‘smart light cities’, ‘data cities’ and ‘virtual nations’.
Davina was the founding strategy director of the annual city light festivals in Sydney (Vivid/Smart Light Sydney 2009) and Singapore (iLight Marina Bay 2010, 2012).
After first-year politics and economics studies at Auckland University in 1973, Davina trained as a newspaper reporter with NZ Newspapers and arrived in Sydney in the late 1970s. After reporting for Rupert Murdoch’s Daily Mirror, she crossed to colour magazines as 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 won 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 the internet-era implications for pre-internet 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, which successfully lobbied 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. This project helped to galvanise a new era of international connections for young Australian architects.
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’. Branded with the 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 (later merged with the CSIRO), three government departments and the City of Sydney’s Customs House.
Her studies on the history of 20th century architecture helped to inform her 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 in Sydney).