NSW architects honoured as next-generation talent shines bright

Accomplished practitioners from across the state together with emerging and student architects are being recognised tonight with the awarding of the Australian Institute of Architects’ 2021 NSW Chapter prizes.

Socially and environmentally conscientious projects that benefit the community dominated the student and emerging architect prize pool. Extensive and enduring contributions to the practice of architecture in Australia were evident in the more experienced practitioner prizes and fellowships awarded.

NSW Chapter President, Laura Cockburn, congratulated this year’s winners for illustrating the immense value architects add not only to their clients but broader communities.

“Tonight, we honour endeavour across the breadth of our profession and recognise the individual excellence in research, education, advocacy, community and social aspects for practitioners,” Ms Cockburn said.

The 2021 NSW President’s Prize was awarded to former NSW Chapter President, now CEO of the Architects Accreditation Council of Australia, Kathlyn Loseby LFRAIA. Applauding what they called “an acumen for leadership” over more than 30 years of practice, the jury noted the pivotal role Kathlyn has played in deepening the profession’s influence in NSW.

“Kathlyn presided over a period of immense regulatory change in NSW and through extraordinary service, personal commitment and sheer determination managed to advocate on behalf of the profession in parliamentary and government circles thereby elevating the profession as a trusted advisor desirous of high quality-built environment outcomes,” the jury said.

Ms Loseby was also awarded a Life Fellowship, the highest honour class of Australian Institute of Architects membership alongside five other leading NSW architects Olivia Hyde LFRAIA, Peter Kemp LFRAIA, Rachel Neeson LFRAIA, Alex Popov LFRAIA and Agi Stirling LFRAIA. 

Fellowship was awarded to Jenna Rowe, Belinda Goh, Steven Donaghey, Guy Luscombe, Angus Kell, Abdullah Lftekhar, Robert Graham and William Smart for demonstrating a significant contribution to the architecture profession beyond architecture practice.

Kevin O’Brien from BVN Architecture won the 2021 NSW Reconciliation Prize for Kimberwalli, meaning ‘many stars’ in Darug for what the jury applauded for “reflecting cultural values, demonstrating positive community benefits, authentic partnerships and deep engagement.” Encompassing the revitalisation of two existing brutalist buildings, the jury said the project “has been designed and delivered with self-determination and pride in culture front of mind”.

Two commendations in this prize category were also awarded to the Burri Gummin Housing Studio, a collaboration between the Yarrabah Community and the University of Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning and to to luk a beautiful pendant light and artwork created by Ngardang Girri KalatMimini (NGKM) in collaboration with Koskela, engaged by Gensler on the refurbishment of Ernst and Young (EY) offices.

Lauded by the jury as a “remarkable ambassador of the architectural profession”, Dr Kirsten Orr LFRAIA has been awarded this year’s prestigious Marion Mahony Griffin Prize, which recognises a distinctive body of work by a female architect. The jury described Dr Orr as a “creative, original, and independent thinker” who is adventurous in her advocacy.

Architect Hugo Chan won the 2021 David Lindner Prize, which with generous support from his family, honours the memory of the talented young Sydney architect after whom it is named who tragically disappeared in Iran in 1993. 

The jury awarded Mr Chan the research-based prize for his what the jury said was his “highly topical” submission “Architecture & Belonging: An Exploration into Designing for Cultural Diversity”. His research will explore “the connections between architecture, culture, belonging and memory and the role that the built environment plays in defining, shaping, and perpetuating self-identity and belonging of migrant communities in urban contexts.”

Emerging architect Nicole Larkin will have the opportunity for research-based travel or study to enrich her professional development after winning the 2021 Christopher Procter Prize for her proposal “The Wild Edge”, which aims to “consolidate a holistic approach to best practice for the management, conservation and future design of ocean pools.”

The jury said Ms Larkin’s proposal “bodes well for the next generation of public space type within one of our most contested realms – the NSW coastline.”

Architecture student Ryan Dingle won the 2021 Brian Patrick Keirnan Prize for his project repurposing a disused railway tunnel underneath Hyde Park that takes visitors from the City to the Botanic gardens into what the jury describe as “an intense experiential passage” that re-interprets Sydney’s pre-colonial ecology.

“The monolithic architecture guides us through a series of sensorial settings following a tragic narrative of loss,” the jury said.

“The abandoned infrastructure revives as a dense atmospheric pipeline fluctuating between bright outdoor space and dark confined tunnels resolving in a vision of uncanny beauty at times reminiscent of Andrei Tarkovsky’s imagery.”

Fellow students Lucy Sharman, Chloe Goldsmith and Callum Coombe received commendations for their respective projects, which both touch on critically important issues in society.

Ms Sharman’s project ‘Generation’ was described as one that “boldly reimagines the approach to the pressing issues of an ageing population, a lack of affordable student accommodation and the social isolation which generally flows from existing design approaches.” 

Meanwhile, Ms Goldsmith and Mr Coombe’s ‘Tributary Park’ project “proposes the ‘undoing’ in part of a colonial overlay of ovals and structures in Newcastle CBD to enable the transformation of space into the pre-colonial wetlands that originated on the site.” 

Complete list of prize winners, Fellows and Life Fellows:

Winner Award 
Olivia Hyde LFRAIA Life Fellows 
Peter Kemp LFRAIA Life Fellows 
Kathlyn Loseby LFRAIA Life Fellows 
Rachel Neeson LFRAIA Life Fellows 
Alex Popov LFRAIA Life Fellows 
Agi Stirling LFRAIA Life Fellows 
Jenna Rowe Fellows 
Belinda Goh Fellows 
Steven Donaghey Fellows 
Guy Luscombe Fellows 
Angus Kell Fellows 
Iftekhar Abdullah Fellows 
Robert Graham Fellows 
William Smart Fellows 
Ryan Dingle – WINNER Brian Patrick Keirnan Prize 
Lucy Sharman – COMMENDATION Brian Patrick Keirnan Prize 
Chloe Goldsmith and Callum Coombe – COMMENDATION Brian Patrick Keirnan Prize 
Nicole Larkin Christopher Procter Prize 
Hugo Chan David Lindner Prize 
Dr Kirsten Orr LFRAIA Marion Mahony Griffin Prize 
Kevin O’Brien – WINNER Reconciliation Prize 
Burri Gummin Housing Studio – COMMENDATION Reconciliation Prize 
Luk – COMMENDATION Reconciliation Prize 
Kathlyn Loseby President’s Prize