Australia’s best new residential and commercial buildings have been named in the Australian Institute of Architects 2023 National Architecture Awards, shining a light on the most innovative, sustainable and inspirational homes, commercial and community buildings. This year’s winners can be seen as a window into the changing built environment of contemporary Australia. In particular, the exemplary work that is being done in Australia’s regional areas; respectful and sustainable approaches to alterations of existing homes and public buildings; design that demonstrates what higher density living could and should look like; and design that has a deep connection, appreciation and consideration to Country.
The 47 winners and commendations were chosen by a jury of industry experts from a shortlist of more than 70 of Australia’s leading architectural projects.
Some of the winning projects in 2023 contain common themes that unite them. These include world-class design examples of sustainability, adaptive reuse, dynamic collaboration between designers, connection to Country, thoughtful higher-density living and generosity towards the broader community.
Jury Chair Shannon Battisson LFRAIA explained the award-winning projects can be seen as a point of inspiration to Australians at a time of environmental and economic crisis.
“Australia is in the depths of a once-in-a-generation housing crisis and a climate crisis. We are in dire need of new approaches to our built environment and this year the jury were united in our desire to seek out and draw attention to the best examples of design innovation in the country. There was a shared respect for what we wanted the Awards to say about the broader climate, sustainability and culture situation. Our hope was to send a message to all Australians about where our industry should be going in terms of sustainability, learning and listening to Country,” said Battisson.
This year, the jury undertook one of the biggest regional tours they have ever conducted, 28 per cent of the winning projects are situated in regional areas.
“The jury felt the importance of celebrating good architecture across the breadth of Australia. Building in the regions has a different set of complexities to building in metropolitan areas – the constraints and opportunities are different.
This year the jury made a concerted effort to visit regional projects and hear the stories of architects and their clients creating amazing projects against the odds of distance, tight budgets, the COVID pandemic with material and labour shortages, and political uncertainty. The assumption that regional projects are easier to design and execute is false. They contain their own unique set of intricacies,” explained Battisson.
The jury also observed this year, more than ever, that collaboration between architects on projects led to richer outcomes, especially in relation to communal buildings and spaces.
“Collaboration between architects brings in a diversity of skills and expertise and leads to better outcomes. This year’s jury has a keen interest in sustainability, designing with Country, collaborative working and projects with a generosity to community, and design innovation.
We saw innovation in many facets: through precision and care in use of materials and construction methods; respect and care in making alterations; projects that were genuine in their desires for environmental and social sustainability outcomes; projects that championed inclusion and collaboration with community, and diverse design teams; and encouragingly, a deep respect for Country in the design process and architectural outcomes. Making good architecture is not easy and often takes a dedicated and passionate team made up of many people. The awarded projects are layered with generosity to their communities, the planet and the profession,” said Battisson.
The 2023 National Architecture Awards program attracted hundreds of entrants, with 178 entries eligible for the National Awards. A comprehensive judging process determined the shortlisted entries and eventual winners and included buildings from all over the country and a small selection from overseas. The jury travelled to every state and territory in Australia, visiting 68 projects (plus another three virtually) across 82 entries over two weeks.
Each year, the National Architecture Awards jury includes an esteemed panel of industry experts. This year the jury comprised of:
- Shannon Battisson LFRAIA (Chair), Immediate Past National President of the Australian Institute of Architects, Director of Architecture at The Mill: Architecture + Design
- Shaneen Fantin FRAIA, Director of People Oriented Design (POD)
- William Smart FRAIA, Creative Director and Owner of Smart Design Studio
- Stephanie Kitingan RAIA, Architect & Director of Placement Studio
- Scott Burchell, Director of Comb Construction
The Australian Institute of Architects’ 2023 National Architecture Awards were revealed on October 31 at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.