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2014 Northern Territory Architecture Awards

The 2014 Northern Territory Architecture Awards recognise the best buildings of the year as well as great buildings that have stood the test of time. The jury travelled the length and breadth of the Northern Territory, from urban settings to remote communities. The diversity of locations and responses of the architects to the environment and client briefs reflects the complexity of Architectural practice in the NT.

Tracy Memorial Award

Winning Project: Strohmayr House
Architect: Troppo Architects

Arriving at an overall winner in any competition will ultimately provide more questions than answers. Invariably a subjective jury decision it must fall within the prioritised criteria ultimately composed by the jury.

Strohmayr House is an imaginative addition on a traditional territorian louvred and elevated house. Placing a variety of rooms alongside the existing and around a new pool would initially appear simply an organisational task. However both the sequential arrangement and the relative scales are conducted with a deft hand.

An accommodation tower steps back purposefully at entry so one is drawn into the courtyard and informally onto the living deck – from here generous space is broken provocatively by horizontal and vertical blades that define only the boundaries of the space without the permanence of a wall. There is a magic heroic about this 'living-room' as it prioritises lifestyle whilst minimising permanence. This room is all top-end as patterns greater than the room are mostly managed by the external skin.

Centralised stairs feed to a modest modification of the existing and beyond to the 'private' wing: all the time magnifying the enjoyment that accompanies discovery. The accommodation tower reflects purpose and provides a sensible foil to the inner courtyard. There is a wonderful balance and equality that threads tentacles through the total composition. Practicalities are overlaid with delights and human movement is explored as a chorus to the tune of this architecture.

This project has taken the challenge of its predecessors and made poetic and refined additions – unusually rather than moving toward convention, this project initiates a further investigation into lifestyle and platform. The central square pool a subtle additive to the overall composition.

The 2014 NT Jury found Strohmayr House strengthened an existing language with discipline a belief in top end lifestyle and a touch of pure joy.

Strohmayr House also won the Award for Residential Architecture – Alterations & Additions.

Project/Practice Team

Project architect: Joanna Best
Design architect: Lena Yali
Other: Susan Powell, Kerri-Ellen Stallard

Consultant Team

Structural consultant: JWS Consultants
Landscape consultant: Outsidesign

Construction Team

Builder: Anderson Peters Building

Photographer: Fiona Morrison

George Chaloupka Award for Interior Design

Winning Project: Innovative Media Production Studio Fitout
Architect: MODE

One couldn't help but be impressed upon entering this delightful and fresh fit out within Charles Darwin University. Located ideally on site with excellent orientation and great views into landscape and of passing university pedestrian traffic the design of this space has utilised these attributes to maximum effect with simple planning and locating of desk top activities to the glazed southern facade.

The interesting forms created within the non-regular space, clever use of trendy materials and zappy colours makes for a fun place to work and play, evident in discussions with the users the jury met. The project is further enhanced by the commissioned graphic art that greets you at the entry and hovers over the external glazing.

The project is a superb outcome despite the designers not being commissioned to fully document or superintend the construction stage. The jury understands that the project came in substantially under budget and would recommend that the works to the outdoor recreation and landscape area be extended and further enhanced to complete the project's integration into the university environment.

Project/Practice Team

Interior designer: Stefney Schapel

Consultant Team

Project co-ordinator: Ranjith Dias

Construction Team

Builder: Asbuild NT Pty Ltd

Photographer: Emma Jean Turner

Award for Small Project Architecture

Winning Project: Larapinta Campsites
Architect: Neeson Murcutt Architects Pty Ltd

This project impresses most for its minimalist impact upon the landscape in which it rests. The siting of campsites on previously disturbed ground and the ability for the tents to be packed up and removed in the off season demonstrates an attitude of respect for nature and country.

Whilst the jury considered the camp style facility was not a unique approach in the Australian Outback it was taken with this interpretation and particularly the communal tent. The simplicity of its raised platform, the organic form of the canopy structure, its ability to protect from sun and rain and the no fuss approach of the purpose designed furniture all contribute to a very simple but dynamic shelter. Understanding there is soon to be a third camp site set up, the jury is keen to see the canopy adapted to provide the option of protection from the harsh easterly breezes of Central Australia.

The off-the-shelf safari sleeping tents seem a perfect solution, their colour and form sit harmoniously within the landscape. It is envisaged that, with minor development of the form and fabric of the toilet and shower tents, these campsites provide the ideal solution to shelter and comfort for visiting trekkers and would surely enhance visitor experience.

Project/Practice Team

Rachel Neeson
Nicholas Murcutt
Isabelle Toland

Consultant Team

Structural consultant: Partridge
Structural consultant: TD & C Pty Ltd
Fabric manufacturer: Stretch Structures

Construction Team

Builder: Provan Built
World Expeditions

Photographer: Brett Boardman

Award for Enduring Architecture

Winning Project: Troppoville
Architect: Troppo Architects

The significance of this award is a comment on the history of architecture. Troppo's eight nominated residences known as Troppoville represent the seeds of experimentation and interpretation that ultimately informed the world we know as Troppo Architects.

Recently graduated Phil Harris and Adrian Welke used common sense, observation, skill, inventiveness and green cans to create a fresh approach to top end architecture – with Burnett as a great residential reference the boys infused into their work a genuine sense of expressed structure along with a playful attitude to form and detail. There is a significant impact of this thinking as it rippled across architectural critiques – life was breathed into architecture that rejoiced in place and experience, people were swept along with the positivity and Troppo received national recognition early in their career.

Significantly this recognition was not short lived, their work and more importantly their influence continues to inspire relevant and creative responses to architectural projects over quarter of a century after its beginnings.

Troppoville was a moment in time; it is uncommon for architects to enjoy the opportunity of several projects concurrently and immediately local supported by clients with like minds. A recollection of Wrights Oak Park and the historic importance of his disciplined early buildings a parallel.

This award is not for a single piece of mastery it is for the bravery, talent and exploration that began a trend in our architectural history. A small group of houses that singularly stand to contribute but as a group expose the power and inspiration of a community of buildings that without each other the poetry is less.

The 2014 jury was delighted to recognise Troppoville as a consistent reminder that heroic architecture often stems from base honesty.

Troppoville also won the COLORBOND® Award for Steel Architecture and the People's Choice Award.

Project/Practice Team

Design architect: Troppo
Construction Team: Hamilton Sleigh, Wayne Norris, Troppo Architects

Photographers: Patrick Bingham-Hall, Troppo

Award for Sustainable Architecture

Winning Project: Desert House
Architect: Dunn & Hillam Architect

Desert House sits on a small rock ridge looking westward toward the magnificent McDonnell ranges. The site had previously been benched for the construction of a dwelling at the time of an earlier subdivision. The architects chose appropriately to integrate with the existing site profiles and to excavate a small amount in the central courtyard for the management of subsurface water and to encourage cool air.

Sitting the lower entry level into the site provided the cumulative effect of significant thermal mass that was used to temper the air as it was drawn via the stairwell into the upper spaces. Similarly, the recessed central courtyard with rock and moisture infill provides additional cool air drawn by convection through hopper windows at floor level to upper level cross vents. A fly roof amplifies the sensibility of this project – parasol roofs make sense in a climate consistently loaded by sun. Independent insulated wall and ceiling panels (R5.66) assist purposefully in both the retention of heat (for purging) or the ability to keep heat from egressing the building. Roof orientation is well considered and the ability to hold air captive in the ceiling void to be used to reduce internal demand volumes or assist in the convection purge of the space is good practice.

There is a sensible use of low embodied energy materials although this is found to be contradicted in a few areas such as roof frame, doorframes and A/C system.

Floor heating is reticulated around an 18°C temperature which can be easily raised with instantaneous gas as required in cooler months – the majority of hot water is generated by solar catchment. With a knowledge of the systems and operations that manage this project it is reasonable to expect a reduction of energy requirements by up to 35% depending upon the willingness of clients to accept managed but not controlled environments.

Desert House offers a genuine sensibility to environmental management in this specific climate. Traditional techniques have been assimilated into a contemporary response with a reduction in regional expression.

Project/Practice Team

Project architect: Ashley Dunn
Other: Lee Hillam, Linden Thorley, Jonathan Temple, Felipe Miranda, Grace Mortlock

Consultant Team

Structural consultant: John Carrick
Mechanical consultant: GHD Newcastle
Landscape consultant: Tavis Wilkinson
Cost consultant: BDA Consultants
Communications consultant: Stefan Zagorsk
Building surveyor: BB Surveys

Construction Team

Builder: Scope Building NT

Photographer: Kilian O’Sullivan