NSW’s older existing building stock is enjoying a renaissance - with half the ‘new projects’ picking up awards at this year’s NSW Architecture Awards being pre-loved and now re-loved buildings.
Announcing the Australian Institute of Architects’ NSW Architecture Awards in Sydney tonight, jury chair Peter Mould said this year’s winners confirmed the State is moving towards smarter, more intelligent ways of reusing its massive supply of existing building stock.
Of the 42 awards and commendations presented by the Institute’s NSW Chapter, 20 were given to projects cleverly reusing old building stock - including those from past industrial use, heritage stock, mediocre commercial buildings revisited and reinvigorated, as well as unloved modern works now revered and revealed.
Mr Mould said: “This year there was a dominant trend, adaptation, the reuse of existing building stock. So much material reused, not wasted, so much labour lovingly invested and now recaptured, so much memory reinterpreted, all embodied in the fabric and given a new lease and longer life. With our massive deposit of existing buildings care applied to their revitalisation is truly sustainable. This trend was apparent across all categories, from residential, commercial to public.”
Leading the way were this year’s six public architecture award and commendation recipients - four involving the reuse of existing buildings. Of these, the top award - the Sulman Award for Public Architecture - was presented to the Bowden Centre at Mt Annan Botanic Gardens by Kennedy Associates Architects.
The jury said: “The Bowden Centre provides an alternative approach to the sustainable utilisation of existing building stock through innovative re-use of an existing demountable structure as the basis for a multi-function permanent facility. Its simplicity of form enables the centre to have a ‘loose fit’ that accommodates a wide range of activities from its primary use as a teaching facility to a seminar area or a function centre. This building sits so calmly in its setting that it has a sense of inevitability.”
Also receiving an architecture award for public buildings, as well as the top Greenway Award for Heritage was one of Sydney’s better known old industrial buildings - the CarriageWorks at Eveleigh by Tonkin Zulaikha Greer. The jury said: ““The Eveleigh Carriage Workshops are of national cultural significance as part of the largest intact, high quality workshop site from the steam era in Australia. It has now been opened to the public in a creative new way. This landmark site has been given new life without forsaking the old - its 1888 industrial heritage clearly evident through the retention of nearly all the significant fabric and equipment extant at the time of adaptation. The carriages have gone, but not the cranes, the rails and the ability to read its form and former function. Existing elements retain their patina of age. This project, realised on a strict budget and even stricter timetable, provides flexible theatre spaces, administration offices, workshop spaces and amenities in discrete concrete boxes clearly articulated from the heritage fabric.”
A public architecture award was also presented to the Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre at Ultimo by Harry Seidler & Associates, with the jury commenting: “Internally it is one of the great public rooms of Sydney. Grand in scale, the curved roof sweeps over the entire internal space in one giant undulating wave. As one of Seidler’s last works, this public building is a fitting memorial.”
Other public architecture awards went to the Recreation Hall, Berry Sports and Recreation Centre by Allen Jack & Cottier and the Australian School of Business at NSW University by francis-jones morehen thorp with Lahz Nimmo Architects, described by the jury as “a careful reworking of a significant modernist building which has given the UNSW campus a formidable new building”. They added: “This is a strong reworking of an important building and shows how existing building stock can be successfully rejuvenated.”
The Lloyd Rees Award for Urban Design was presented to the Rouse Hill Town Centre by Rice Daubney, Allen Jack & Cottier, Group GSA in association with Civitas Urban Design and Planning. The jury said: “Rouse Hill Town Centre boasts a small town square, but its real success is the pattern of open streets and partially covered laneways that hark back to traditional suburban shopping centres. Rouse Hill breaks away from the ‘big box’ model of internal retail centres that exclude uses and users. The traditional big box retail (supermarket and super stores) are pushed to the corners and accessed through the laneways. In subsequent stages of development, a ring of residential buildings will surround and mask these elements - the town embracing the town centre. In the face of the many difficulties of retail investment this is a great achievement as it establishes a new model for town centre development in NSW.”
In presenting the Milo Dunphy Award for Sustainable Architecture to Stockland Head Office 133 Castlereagh Street by Bligh Voller Nield, the jury said: “While recognising that it is the Institute’s goal to have sustainability embedded within the criteria for all awards, no longer necessitating the consideration of sustainability for an individual award, this aim remains to be achieved. The jury believes outstanding projects that clearly and innovatively improve sustainable practice in architecture require recognition for their role in leading the way. Of course, a future when all buildings designed and built will inherently demonstrate a high degree of measurable environmental performance and consider all aspects of sustainability in a rigorous and comprehensive manner is the final objective.”
Of Stockland Head Office, they said: “One of the great challenges for a sustainable future is to find solutions for the sustainable use of existing building stock and accordingly the existing infrastructure. Stockland Head Office addresses this challenge through the innovative refurbishment of eight floors of existing building to provide a lively workspace environment that supports human wellness and activity while reducing the office’s environmental footprint.”
The new Parramatta Justice Building by Bates Smart Pty Ltd received the Commercial Architecture award, with the jury commenting that “The architect has successfully resolved strict security requirements and provided an ordered plan with creative massing. The organisation of the service zone to the west and primary office spaces to the east allows flexibility for a range of fitouts.”
NSW Premier Morris Iemma presented this year’s Premier’s Award to the Prince Henry Masterplan by Landcom, describing it as “a site that presents such complex challenges - politically as well as architecturally - that only the most thoughtful and nuanced solution is acceptable”. He added: “The masterplan crafts a new residential and community precinct that seamlessly balances old and new, open space and built form, private and public uses, creating a rare showcase of sustainable coastal urban renewal.”
This year’s top residential award for new housing, the Wilkinson Award for Residential Architecture, was presented to the Leura House by James Stockwell Architect. The jury said: “A podium of locally sourced rammed earth majestically defines the dwelling’s boundaries. The main walls of the house are also rammed earth expressing the texture and colours of the local sandstone. Each structural component and detail is carefully considered and proportioned in relation to the whole, resulting in an elegant, horizontal form, which sits comfortably within the landscape.”
In total, seven residential projects - four new houses and three alterations and additions - were presented with residential architecture awards, with all but the Leura House being in Sydney.
The Aaron Bolot Multiple Housing Award was presented to EDO at Woolloomooloo by Stanisic Associates, containing 31 apartments of varying layouts and sizes - one, two and three bedrooms with and without studies, on single and two levels and in gallery and cross-over arrangements. The jury said: “The overall impression of EDO is one of calm, of generosity - it’s a building that works on passive energy principles and is skilfully and thoughtfully designed for compact, inner-city living.”
An apartment occupying an entire floor of a circular 18-storey tower, the Darling Point Apartment 2 by Stanic Harding, with 360-degree views of the harbour, bridge and Opera House, was awarded the Interior Architecture Award. The jury said: “Like a literal square peg in a round hole, the original apartment layout made a clumsy use of the available space with poor integration of services. In sharp contrast, the new layout is a fluid sequence of radial spaces.”
This year’s 25 Year Award was presented to the winner of the 1985 Sulman Prize - the Wharf Theatre by Vivian Fraser with the NSW Government Architect, described by the jury as having “set new standards for adaptation” in Australia. They added: “It showed how successfully industrial buildings could be used” and “it remains a vibrant part of Sydney’s cultural life” 24 years after its completion.
Recognising quality architecture outside metropolitan areas, the Blacket Prize for Regional Architecture was presented to Recreation Hall, Berry Sports and Recreation Centre by Allen Jack & Cottier. The jury said: “A simple brief for a multipurpose centre just outside the southern valley town of Berry has produced a sophisticated small project filled with delight.”
In a reminder of Australian’s love of the great outdoors, fondness for travelling and also creature comforts, three amenity block projects have received awards or commendations in this year’s awards. The Headland Park Amenities at Lower Georges Heights in Mosman by Rick Leplastrier and the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust received a Small Projects architecture award, with the jury saying: “Besides fulfilling a utilitarian role within the Headland Park, the amenities provide a delightful experience where people can sit and relax within the internal courtyard and seating alcoves while waiting for others. Its pavilion design, courtyard and seating alcoves within, create a place of social interaction. It is rare that a suburban toilet obtains such a sober civic quality.” The Transgrid Ventilation Shaft at Australian Technology Park by Choi Ropiha also received a Small Projects architecture award, with the jury saying the project “imbues a sense of finesse and quality that would otherwise be unexpected for a structure of this type”.
This year’s COLORBOND® Award for Steel Architecture was awarded to treehouse by architecture saville Isaacs pty ltd. The jury said it was impressed by the relationship of the building to its quite spectacular site, and the architect’s attempts to incorporate sound environmental principles throughout the project.
A range of awards and prizes were also presented to exemplary architects working across the profession. In particular, a Special Jury Prize was presented to Paul Pholeros of Sydney-based practice healthabitat for his outstanding ongoing work with indigenous communities across Australia; the President’s Prize was awarded to Peter Watts, director of the Historic Houses Trust, for being “an outstanding client”; the Marion Mahony Griffin Prize for female architects leading the profession was awarded to Andrea Nield, the founding director of Emergency Architects Australia, for her ongoing response to the real needs of endangered communities.
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