Melaleuca Australia Courtyard Shade Structure | Hames Sharley NT Pty Ltd

Melaleuca Australia Courtyard Shade Structure | Hames Sharley NT Pty Ltd | Photographer: NG Photographics

2024 National Architecture Awards Program

Melaleuca Australia Courtyard Shade Structure | Hames Sharley NT Pty Ltd

Traditional Land Owners

Northern Territory

Small Project Architecture
M+J Builders
NG Photographics
Project summary

Melaleuca Australia’s new roof structure has transformed an underused weather-exposed courtyard into a unique and idyllic communal gathering space for staff, clients, and the wider community to enjoy.

A not-for-profit organisation, Melaleuca celebrates connections and belonging, and is dedicated to assisting refugees and migrants in their settlement journey.

The new butterfly roof makes a statement and gracefully soars over the existing courtyard, honouring and embracing the original 1960s breezeblock building. The robust yet lightweight, contemporary roof structure features galvanised steel roof framing and spotted gum timber details. Raw, unrendered materials and an efficient structural design minimise construction costs. The strict yet artful structural detailing and use of large concealed cyclonic washers on the roof sheeting are creative solutions that respect the tropical environment.

Melaleuca’s new courtyard roof is a truly collaborative project. From cost-effective solutions to in-kind contributions from the design team, the project exemplifies a community-driven approach and outcome.

Northern Territory Architecture Awards Accolades
EmAGN Project Award
The Yali-McNamara Award for Small Project Architecture (NT)
Northern Territory Jury Citation

The Yali-McNamara Award for Small Project Architecture

This modest intervention for Melaleuca Australia, a refugee advocacy organisation, is a demonstrator of architecture’s capacity for impact beyond physical space. Inserted within a unique existing context, the introduction of a delicate and luminous shade structure has significantly enhanced the amenity and functionality of this former monastery and the vital work the organisation is engaged in.

Appropriately, six circular galvanized columns align with the existing hierarchical cloisters, creating minimal disruption to the ground plane. As the columns rise, the butterfly roof structure gracefully reduces into finer elements and is complemented by timber strut accents that speak quietly to the adjacent ochre-toned concrete breezeblocks.

The structure subtly integrates with the existing building without ever touching, maintaining a visual connection while creating a captivating interplay between different materials. The butterfly roof and large fan enhance air circulation, expelling heat from the courtyard. While at night, uplighting on the columns creates a vertical emphasis, transforming the structure into a glowing lantern.

The Jury commends the architects and wider team for the delivering such an elegant and effective outcome with an extremely limited budget. The resulting structure now facilitates all year-round use of the space, creating a versatile venue and community hub that connects the Melaleuca Refugee Centre more broadly to Darwin and beyond.

EmAGN Project Award

The Melaleuca Australia Courtyard Shade Structure project is awarded the EmAGN Project Award as testament to the exceptional professionalism and leadership of project architect Ilma Ali. Through her adept management and cultivation of strong relationships with clients, consultants, and builders, she has elevated the project to exceed expectations despite constrained resources.

Navigating the project through financial challenges, Ilma’s generous and committed leadership ensured its completion, resulting in a space that transcends its primary function of providing shade. Instead, it fosters community engagement and serves as a sustainable revenue source for Melaleuca throughout the year.

This achievement is the product of a harmonious collaboration between the architect and the structural engineer, one that delicately integrates with the site’s historical context while innovatively addressing contemporary needs. The resulting structure pays homage to the space’s heritage while forging a new identity that resonates with modern sensibilities.

During the Jury’s assessment, Ilma’s profound ownership of the project was unmistakable, evident in her articulate exposition of the design process and close rapport with the client. Her involvement in all project phases, including Contract Administration during construction, underscores her comprehensive grasp of every aspect of the endeavour.

Melaleuca Australia is a specialist agency supporting culturally diverse communities. We have a long–standing positive relationship with Hames Sharley, and engaged them knowing their attention to detail and capacity to compliment buildings with incredible design.

Hames Sharley maintained an incredible relationship with us and presented a range of beautiful options. We selected the Butterfly roof design which reflected our values and complemented the building. What was delivered was far beyond our expectations. The modest elegant design accentuates the space and brings out the impetus for people to gather in beauty. An iconic building now blended with an incredible architectural roof.

Project Practice Team

Ilma Ali, Project Lead
Adam Prentice, Principal
Alex Quin, Contract Administration

Project Consultant and Construction Team

Wallbridge Gilbert Aztec (WGA), Structural Engineer
Earl James & Associates, Land Surveyor
BCA Concepts, Building Surveyor

Connect with Hames Sharley NT Pty Ltd
Melaleuca Australia Courtyard Shade Structure | Hames Sharley NT Pty Ltd | Photographer: NG Photographics

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