Queensland’s most prestigious architecture prizes presented at 2021 State Architecture Awards ‘Archiparty’

Queensland’s highest honours in architecture were handed down at the 2021 Queensland Architecture Awards finale and 90th Anniversary of the Australian Institute of Architects celebrations in Brisbane on Saturday night.

Townsville’s James Cook University Central Plaza, designed by Cox Architecture and Counterpoint Architecture in association, was awarded the Australian Institute of Architects’ Art & Architecture Prize (QLD). This award is given to projects which demonstrate excellence in the integration of art and architecture.

The focal element of Central Plaza is the dramatic sheltering canopy conceived by the architects to reflect the history of the university and its engagement with the community.  Quandamooka artist Megan Cope was commissioned to create the artwork using 479 printed panels. Through the use of old military maps of the Townsville coastline Cope has imagined a future landscape of Townsville in her work title ‘After the Flood’.

“JCUs Central Plaza is an exemplary project, demonstrating a valuable engagement between an artist, curator, fabricator, and architect to integrate an artwork in a public building,” the jury said.

The prestigious Queensland Architecture Medallion was awarded to CA Architects and Cox Architecture in collaboration for the Cairns Performing Arts Centre (CPAC).  

The award, now in its second year, is bestowed upon a project of an exemplary standard. 

The jury applauded the architects for creating a new arts precinct for both the city of Cairns and the Far North Queensland region.  

“The building has a quintessential Queensland character, celebrating its tropical location as well as the region’s cultural diversity,” the jury said.

The Robin Gibson Award for Enduring Architecture was presented to the Church Street Public Housing project by architects Bligh Voller, Parrish O’Neill and Cox Rayner. 

Completed in 1995, the Fortitude Valley project set a new standard in the delivery of social housing and arguably urban housing more generally in Queensland.

“Up until the early 1990s public housing in Queensland was a mixture of detached family dwellings, barrack-style lines of row dwellings and some deck access walk-up apartments often sideways down the block,” the jury said.

“The 42-apartment [building], located in a largely commercial and rundown suburb on the fringe of the CBD, was both a strong statement about architectural and urban design intentions and a catalyst for residential buildings and regeneration of the area. 

“The project continues to showcase exceptional design through its response to ideas of territory and privacy, creating community through ‘eyes of the street’, and the use of ‘local’ materials and detailing in a subtropical climate. 

“As rental affordability plummets throughout Australia and social housing appears scarce, it is important to be reminded of the fundamental need for not only thoughtfully designed inner urban housing and especially well-designed publicly funded housing but also the importance of design leadership and innovation in support of a better Queensland.”