Australian architecture abroad celebrated in International Chapter Awards

Australian architecture around the world was championed in the 2020 Australian Institute of Architects International Chapter Awards, with Koning Eizenberg Architecture featuring prominently this year for two outstanding projects in the United States.

The Arroyo Affordable Housing development by Koning Eizenberg Architecture was awarded a Residential Architecture – Multiple Housing Award and a Sustainable Architecture Award. The 64-unit housing project offers 100% affordable, inclusionary housing and is located at the edge of transit and job rich (but housing starved) Downtown Santa Monica in California.

The jury noted that the building sets an exemplary precedent for affordable housing and proves that sustainability is a goal that all good design can achieve and promote, regardless of typology or cost per metre square.

Jury Chair Wei Jien said: “Through its simplicity and compelling legibility, the Arroyo does not only foster a great living environment for a community that most needs it, but also raises the bar in the conversation about architectural excellence in affordable projects.”

Koning Eizenberg Architecture’s MuseumLab also took home two accolades; a Heritage Architecture Award and a Sustainable Architecture Award. Part of the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, the project is an innovative and creative revitalisation of the important yet abandoned historic Pittsburgh Carnegie Library (c1890).

The jury thought the approach taken to reveal the historic architecture that had been remodelled, concealed or damaged over time was both clever and inspired. Wei Jien commented: “This children’s museum, offering cutting-edge experiences in art and technology, is both beautiful and forward-thinking and has propelled a disused and forgotten heritage building back into the heart of the community. It also demonstrates how a heritage structure, built in an era when construction took no account of thermal performance or energy consumption, can be reinvented into a contemporary and sustainable building.”

Hank Koning and Julie Eizenberg of Koning Eizenberg Architecture studied at Melbourne University before moving to Los Angeles in 1979 to undertake graduate study at UCLA. They established Koning Eizenberg Architecture in Santa Monica in 1981. The pair was awarded the Gold Medal – the Australian Institute of Architects’ highest honour – last year for their outstanding achievements over the last four decades, including a myriad of affordable housing, education and civic projects aimed at helping underprivileged communities.

Other winners included Terrace House near Demachiyanagi in Japan by atelier Luke, which won a Residential Alterations and Additions Award; and Aman Kyoto by Kerry Hill Architects, also in Japan, which won a Commercial Architecture Award (alongside an Interior Architecture Commendation).

The William J. Mitchell (WJM) Prize was awarded to Antonia Syme AM, the Director of the Australian Tapestry Workshop (ATW), for her efforts promoting and curating the ATW Tapestry Design Prize for Architects (TDPA). The jury noted that Syme’s enthusiasm to encourage architects to enter the competition, or to include a commissioned tapestry in their work, has promoted the now rare and meticulous art of tapestry weaving. She has also helped to enrich the work of Australian architecture on the world stage through the significant commissions now hung in prominent locations around the globe.

The WJM Prize recognises the work of those who have contributed to Australian architecture in the international arena over the years. The jury for the Prize, which is now awarded biennially, is the International Chapter Council.

Wei Jien noted that the current global crisis provided a new lens in which to review the submissions for this year’s awards. She said: “We have been encouraged by the entries with their various challenges based on unique cultural, geographical and environmental circumstances. The submissions this year also reflect the evolving growth and diversity of the membership of the International Chapter.

“In spite of all the uncertainty in the world outside of our Zoom calls, we have found moments of delight through our jury deliberations. As architects abroad, we value more than ever this connection to the Australian architecture community.”

The Awards ceremony was conducted via a live YouTube stream on Friday the 17 July, the final presentation in a six-week virtual Chapter Awards Program run by the Australian Institute of Architects.

All projects awarded an Architecture Award will now be considered for The Jørn Utzon Award for International Architecture, an Australian Award for International Architecture or an Australian Commendation for International Architecture at the National Architecture Awards later this year.

To see all the entries in the International Chapter Architecture Awards and to vote in the inaugural People’s Choice, visit the online entrant gallery.

Full list of Award and Commendation winners

The William J. Mitchell (WJM) Prize

Antonia Syme AM, Director of the Australian Tapestry Workshop

Residential Architecture – Houses (Alterations and Additions) Award

Terrace House near Demachiyanagi (Japan) | atelier Luke

Commercial Architecture Award

Aman Kyoto (Japan) | Kerry Hill Architects

Commercial Architecture Commendations


Funan (Singapore) | Woods Bagot

The Apurva Kempinski Bali (Indonesia) | Denton Corker Marshall Jakarta / Duta Cermat Mandiri

Residential Architecture – Multiple Housing Award

The Arroyo Affordable Housing (USA) | Koning Eizenberg Architecture

Sustainable Architecture Awards

MuseumLab (USA) | Koning Eizenberg Architecture

The Arroyo Affordable Housing (USA) | Koning Eizenberg Architecture

Sustainable Architecture Commendation

Miura Fold House (New Zealand) | James Stockwell Architect

Heritage Architecture Award

MuseumLab (USA) | Koning Eizenberg Architecture

Educational Architecture Commendation

Eco Kindi (Vietnam) | LAVA (Laboratory for Visionary Architecture) with Module K

Interior Architecture Commendations

The Work Project – Asia Square (Singapore) | Hassell

Aman Kyoto (Japan) | Kerry Hill Architects

Public Architecture Commendation

Parliament of Samoa – Maota Fono (Samoa) | Guida Moseley Brown Architects

2020 International Chapter Award Jury

Wei Jien (Jury Chair) RAIA | L’Observatoire International

Razvan Ghilic-Micu RAIA | Hassell          

Minnie Cade RAIA | John Wardle Architects