Celebrating ‘architecture that enlivens’ as 2020 Award Winners announced

In a year that has seen Australians interact more with their immediate built environment than ever before, projects that go above and beyond, enlivening their surroundings, have received the nation’s top architectural honours.

The 2020 Australian Institute of Architects’ National Architecture Award recipients, announced via a live-streamed event tonight, epitomise the power of design to deliver enduring community value.

Jury Chair and Immediate Past National President Professor Helen Lochhead said that 44 projects were recognised, 25 with national awards and 19 with commendations.

“Projects at this level are all accomplished, but it was the projects that could demonstrate their value beyond the limits of the brief or the confines of the site that the Jury selected for national recognition,” Prof Lochhead said.

“Creative adaptation, along with social and environmental sustainability featured strongly as themes running through this year’s award-winning projects.

“In the context of the pandemic and a rapidly changing climate, it is clear that we need to be designing in new ways and many of these projects show that architects are uniquely positioned to adapt and meet these challenges.

“It was encouraging to see housing projects of all types challenging expectations and delivering high-quality buildings imbued with amenity and delight, even with limited means.”

Projects in New South Wales dominated the fiercely competitive New Houses category this year, while Victorian and South Australian projects featured in the Multiple Housing and Alteration and Additions categories.

Two strikingly different homes, one on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, the other nestled in East Albury, shared the prestigious Robin Boyd Award for Residential Architecture – Houses (New).

The Jury praised Peter Stutchbury Architecture’s Basin Beach House as the product of “a practice at the top of its game” that maintained “a gentle decorum befitting this ecologically sensitive context”.

They added that the home “demonstrates a clear synergy between client and architect, reinforcing the edict that with a terrific client often comes great architecture.”

Meanwhile, East Street by Kerstin Thompson Architects was awarded for “its consideration of climate, its response to a bushfire-prone context, and the desire to capture the rural setting and superb mountain ranges in the distance” made a living environment “both evocative and finely crafted”.

This year’s recipient of the Nicholas Murcutt Award for Small Project Architecture, For Our Country by Kudjla/ Gangalu artist Daniel Boyd in collaboration with Edition Office was particularly noteworthy.

“The task of adequately acknowledging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander diggers, within the shadows of the Australian War Memorial, brought with it much responsibility,” the Jury observed.

“For Our Country is a simple concept, expertly executed with precision and clarity while concealing a degree of complexity in thinking not immediately apparent.”

One of this year’s most awarded projects was the Marrickville Library by BVN, jointly winning the Sir Zelman Cowen Award for Public Architecture alongside the Anzac Memorial Centenary Extension by Johnson Pilton Walker with the NSW Government Architect. The library also received the David Oppenheim Award for Sustainable Architecture.

It is a standout example of the demonstrable public value exceptional design can deliver with the client saying, “BVN have created a library that is both breathtakingly beautiful and outstanding from a functional perspective.”

The painstaking transformation of the old hospital site has had measurable community benefits, increasing visitor numbers by nearly 100% and enabling 20,000 new books to be added to the collection.

Another multi-award winning project, Phoenix Central Park by Durbach Block Jaggers and John Wardle Architects, received both the Harry Seidler Award for Commercial Architecture and the Emil Sodersten Award for Interior Architecture.

The client said the brief for this building was “an open invitation to create something as close to the perfect ideal of architecture itself – the beauty of space and the poetry of light; the pleasure of use and the magic of materials.”

The Jury applauded the resulting gallery and performance space, that is the vision of prominent philanthropist Judith Neilson, as “a superb collaboration” that has “socially, economically and culturally rejuvenated the southern end of the city of Sydney and beyond.”

Heritage was the third of three categories where the named award has been shared this year, with two Tasmanian projects proving of equally high calibre.

Bozen’s Cottage by Taylor & Hinds Architects, which the Jury says is now ready “for another 180 years of comfortable habitation” has given the client, in their words, “solace, enchantment and joy”.

Core Collective Architects’ restoration of Hollow Tree House and its stables has been honoured “for the shared vision of an inspired client and an adept architect.”

Outside [the] box by Troppo Architects won the People’s Choice Award for 2020 by a strong margin with 2,199 votes cast. The ‘small but thoughtful’ extension to a home in Goodwood, South Australia, also won a National Commendation in the fiercely contested Residential Architecture – Houses (Alterations and Additions).

Professor Lochhead commended all participants in this year’s awards, congratulating the winners and thanking all the architects and their clients for so generously giving the Jury their time.

“The National Architecture Awards represent one of the Institute’s most important advocacy programs, in which we acknowledge and celebrate the creative capacities of our profession and the enduring value that outstanding architecture brings to people’s lives,” Prof Lochhead said.

Professor Lochhead was joined on the Jury by Jefa Greenaway, Jennie Officer, Kerry Clare and Tim Greer. Find out more about the jury here.

Full list of winners

COMMERCIAL ARCHITECTURE

EDUCATIONAL ARCHITECTURE

ENDURING ARCHITECTURE

HERITAGE ARCHITECTURE

INTERIOR ARCHITECTURE

INTERNATIONAL ARCHITECTURE

PEOPLE’S CHOICE

PUBLIC ARCHITECTURE

RESIDENTIAL ARCHITECTURE – HOUSES (ALTERATIONS AND ADDITIONS)

RESIDENTIAL ARCHITECTURE – HOUSES (NEW)

 RESIDENTIAL ARCHITECTURE – MULTIPLE HOUSING

SMALL PROJECT ARCHITECTURE

SUSTAINABLE ARCHITECTURE

URBAN DESIGN

COLORBOND® AWARD FOR STEEL ARCHITECTURE