From the National President

24 March 2014

Last Thursday night, the Australian Achievement in Architecture Awards were presented in the beautiful surrounds of Peppermint Bay in Woodbridge, Tasmania.

The AAAAs are an important opportunity to acknowledge the valuable work that individuals are doing to advance the profession of architecture.

The event marks the presentation of the highest accolade the Institute can bestow. This year, the Gold Medal Award for Architecture has been awarded to Phil Harris and Adrian Welke, founding directors of Troppo Architects, in recognition of their outstanding services to the profession and to the community.

Phil and Adrian studied together at the University of Adelaide in the mid-70s and co-founded Troppo in 1980. Their work pioneers a unique and special Australian approach to architecture; irreverent but sophisticated, inventive with a tinge of larrikin spirit. They have evolved an architecture that deals with the heat, the rain, the place and subtleties of climate, while understanding and reviving the lessons of the Top End’s important history and legacy of projects.

Under their leadership, Troppo has grown and diversified from its Darwin origins – with studios now in Adelaide, Townsville, Perth and Byron Bay. Although the practice has evolved, it has retained strong roots and a common ethos. Adrian and Phil have been great mentors and educators; many students and young graduates have passed through the door, helping to develop new generations of architects and collaborators.

Troppo has received numerous awards, for projects spanning everything from tiny remote buildings to city design. Adrian and Phil have an ability to enthuse, educate, convince and change people’s views on architecture – these talents, combined with their exceptional portfolio of projects and commitment to the role of the profession as an agent of change, make them outstanding recipients of the Institute’s most important prize, the Gold Medal.

The National President’s Prize is awarded annually by the Institute’s President and recognises an individual’s contribution to the advancement of architecture in any significant way.

This year, the prize is awarded posthumously to Ross Langdon.

Tasmanian-born architect, Ross Langdon and his partner, Elif Yavuz, were killed during the Nairobi shopping centre attack last September. It was with great sorrow that we learned of their passing in such tragic circumstances. Ross and Elif were living in Dar es Salaam Tanzania and were both working on humanitarian, aid and public projects.

Ross was a well-respected member of the close-knit architectural community, not only in Tasmania, but also throughout Australia and overseas. He had his roots in Tasmania, but quickly went on to share his skills and vision in other parts of the world, taking his passion for architecture to places as far away as Uganda.

Ross was born in Nubeena in Tasmania’s south-east and commenced his first degree at the University of Tasmania. He completed his Bachelor of Architecture at the University of Sydney with honours and the University Medal. After working with several distinguished architects he received a British Council Scholarship and moved to Europe. In 2008 he founded Regional Associates with Campbell Drake and Ben Milbourne. He undertook projects in Norway and Denmark, then in Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya, where he recently completed an AIDS hospital. His work is notable for its community engagement and use of recycled and up-cycled materials.

Ross was a great Australian and exceptional world citizen. He was a talented architect and an inspirational leader who was already well on the way to shaping a better world future. He has left a great legacy and example for all the profession.

Other prizes presented on the night include:

National Emerging Architect Prize – Andrew Burns, Neville Quarry Architecture Education Prize – Professor Miles Lewis, Student Prize for Advancement of Architecture – HY William Chan, Student Biennale – Jessica Chidester (Commendations: Ben Juckes and Doug McNanmara), Leadership in Sustainability Prize – John Macdonald, Design Inc, William J Mitchell International Committee Prize – Haig Beck and Jackie Cooper, Dulux Study Tour – Jenna Rowe, Cherry Williamson, Suzannah Waldron, Michael Zanardo and Ben Milbourne.

I commend each of the prize recipients. These individuals have each made important and unique contributions to the profession.



Paul Berkemeier
National President