Media Release

2019 National Architecture Awards – Jury Citations

JURY CHAIR OVERVIEW

To be part of the National Architecture Awards jury was a great privilege in my year as Immediate Past President and a wonderful opportunity to experience our country’s most outstanding projects of 2019.

In assembling the jury, I considered diversity of experience, location, practice mode and contribution to the practice of architecture. It was a delight to judge this year’s awards with Rachel Neeson (New South Wales), Emma Williamson (Western Australia), Mat Hinds (Tasmania) and Donald Bates (Victoria); I am personally grateful for their tireless commitment to what is a physically demanding experience that impacts greatly on work and family life. This year, we travelled more than 15,000 kilometres across each state and territory in twelve days to visit fifty-six projects.

The National Awards judging process assesses award-winning projects recognised in each state’s Chapter Awards, considering each project afresh within a broader national context. The jury first assembled for a two-day evaluation of the 185 eligible projects, mindful that it is – regrettably – not possible to visit them all. We then embarked on two separate weeks of jury tours.

The tours are as much an opportunity to see projects on the ground as to meet and hear from the architects and clients behind them. Our only regret was the necessary brevity of the visits given our relentless schedule (which was so capably and obligingly managed by Mai Huynh from the Institute’s team). The visits confirmed the remarkable quality of entries at this level. The shortlisting process, which resulted in the selection of seventy-eight nationally shortlisted entries across fourteen categories, reinforced the need for all Chapter Awards models to be consistent to ensure equity; this issue is currently being deliberated by the National Awards Review Working Group.

A number of themes emerged across all categories this year: projects that delivered worthy outcomes with little means; projects that challenged the expectation of a typology; projects that demonstrated the value of architecture through public benefit; and projects with clear commitments to social and environmental sustainability. All these qualities make significant contributions to our cities and regional centres.

Following the tours and much jury deliberation, thirty-five projects were recognised with national awards and twelve with commendations. Reflecting on the architecture visited, we were impressed by the creativity, integrity and accomplishment demonstrated by both established and emerging architects. Individual residential projects were particularly strong, including a number where small budgets were resourcefully deployed. The demanding nature of multi-residential projects, which are now dominating our cities, remains evident. With the changing landscape of regulation and procurement methodologies, it will be interesting to see how architects rise to the challenge in this important typology. New forms of multiple housing also featured, with multi-family housing models responding to issues of ageing in place, density and affordability.

It was encouraging to see educational projects where imaginative design thinking has expanded the learning and experiential agenda. Public architecture projects were also strong, including developments where design invention has expanded the brief and delivered extraordinary value, particularly through social and cultural outcomes.

As architects, we recognise that great architecture requires great clients and we were privileged to meet many visionary clients across Australia. This was especially evident for projects in the public domain, where we observed architect-trained clients deploying their skills as well as clients championing traditional procurement methods with architects leading the delivery phase.

One in four of the projects we visited was located outside our major cities. The jury was heartened that such meaningful and transformational work is being commissioned in regional areas, where projects have the capacity to act as incubators for regional growth and to stimulate community engagement.

Each visit engendered surprise and delight in its own way and on behalf of the jury, I would like to thank the architects and their clients for sharing their exceptional projects so generously. We warmly congratulate all of the winners. The National Awards represent one of our most important advocacy programs, reminding us that exceptional architecture goes beyond image-making to touch on all aspects of procurement and that no part of the process can be deficient when excellence is the objective.

Clare Cousins
Jury Chair, 2019 National Architecture Awards

COMMERCIAL ARCHITECTURE

The Harry Seidler Award for Commercial Architecture | Dangrove | Tzannes | NSW

Dangrove is a two-storey private facility designed specifically for the storage, evaluation and curation of one of Australia’s largest private art collections. In this masterful project, Tzannes engages complex technical pragmatics and the sublime in equal measure.

The building’s lower level provides state-of-the-art facilities for core operations: storage, restoration, curation, preparation for transportation, security station, covered delivery and parking. The upper level is organized in two parts with an adjoining sculpture garden. Intended as a front-of-house, it is primarily focused around art evaluation. The first art evaluation space is a long room that runs along the street with a scalloped concrete ceiling. The second is a wedge space of impressive scale, characterized by a wall of diffuse light above a panelled concrete datum. Known as the Great Hall, it has a deeply memorable ethereal interior quality. Its single-pitch roof carries a large array of photovoltaic cells and collects water for re-use.

Notwithstanding an intentionally unceremonial stair, these two rooms feel public in their scale and material, and do indeed host multiple uses. The first room doubles as a function space (served by a commercial kitchen at its far end), is a foyer to the Great Hall, and is sometimes used as a temporary display space or an event space for music and theatre.

Dangrove is designed for a minimum one-hundred-year life, based on a clear set of strategies developed to ensure its endurance: robust materials, floor levels secure against flooding, services that are handy for maintenance and retrofit, perimeter fire egress corridors as waterproofing backup and polycarbonate panels that are accessible for replacement.

The building is at ease in its context, with a long, elegant face to the street and a dramatic wedge form that speaks to the industrial history and character of Alexandria. At once mute and highly identifiable, this is a confident architecture that will endure.

National Award for Commercial Architecture | Paramount House Hotel | Breathe Architecture | NSW

Paramount House Hotel breathes new life into a three-storey 1930s brick warehouse in Sydney’s Surry Hills. As part of the wider hospitality offering within the historic Paramount Picture Studios building, the project skilfully borrows its neighbour’s established facilities to maximize the hotel offering. Small but generous interventions at the street and in the foyer benefit the broader development.

Twenty-two hotel rooms occupy the original brick structure, while two-level loft rooms crown the top of the building behind a delicate copper veil. A bold yet sensitive addition to the heritage fabric, this chevron screen effectively mediates light to rooms and ensures privacy from neighbouring buildings.

Inside, Paramount House Hotel’s historic fabric is peeled away to reveal traces of time and function. Each room is characterfully unique, with carefully selected Australian fittings and furnishings. Materials are sourced locally for their low environmental impact and to complement the original building fabric; together, these qualities create an authentic, comfortable and inviting home away from home.

National Award for Commercial Architecture | Private Women’s Club | Kerstin Thompson Architects | Victoria

Kerstin Thompson Architects’ confident addition to the premises of this longstanding institution on a narrow laneway in the heart of Melbourne demonstrates a deep understanding of a complex client. The project – a new level consisting of a garden room – is testament to the agency of architecture in the evolution of our cultural organizations and supports a sustainable business model.

Discrete works to upgrade existing spaces for compliance and services are handled with a light touch that retains their essential character, which is highly valued by many of the club’s older members. The new level offers a different spatial experience, reinvigorating the club by helping to attract new and younger members, and providing revenue through its 150-person function capacity.

The design responds beautifully to specific contextual drivers – the established landscape in the neighbouring club’s garden and the architectural cadence of the existing modernist building. Opening completely to the adjacent tree canopies, the design establishes a rhythm of deep glulam timber beams. Combined with top light and finely detailed window screens, this gives a sense of being within a conservatory – and almost within the garden itself. It also establishes a dialogue with the existing building.

The tiled floor is both bold and mute, and the walls are dark and shadowy, softening the ample natural light and attenuating the room’s acoustics. This is a memorable architecture with intelligent spatial planning that will support the club well into the future.

EDUCATIONAL ARCHITECTURE

The Daryl Jackson Award for Educational Architecture | Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Primary School | BVN | NSW

Our Lady of the Assumption delivers a high-quality and safe learning environment for a growing and vibrant community of primary school students in Sydney’s west. The architecture, which implements a careful spatial program that facilitates a deep learning experience, is both derived from and informs the pedagogy of the school.

In this project, BVN has demonstrated through design research, genuine collaboration and a future-focused design strategy, an exemplary approach to radically transform existing buildings for new functionality. The architects have used a methodical approach to materialism and spatial crafting, and aimed for ambitious sustainability targets, in their adaptation of the 1970s Telstra training centre. The result provides innovative, uplifting and inherently flexible learning spaces that will serve the school well into the future.

Internal spatial relationships have been reconfigured through a series of vertical and horizontal circulation spaces that also serve as learning areas, places for congregation and displays, and backdrops to the energetic life of their inhabitants. A four-storey atrium links these spaces, creating flexible, open and naturally lit places for learning and support

Relentless research and development throughout the design phases demonstrated the clear benefits of the use of timber in learning spaces in terms of wellness and educational outcomes. The resultant all-timber interiors – both expressed structure and surface linings – create warm and inviting spaces. Classroom edges have welcome access to large outdoor learning and play spaces, with an emphasis on natural light and fresh air.

The use of a prefabricated cross-laminated timber floor and acoustic ceiling-panel components required a commitment from both the architects and the client that is to be commended. This exceptional project speaks to the strength of the client–architect relationship and the contribution of the entire consultant team, which enabled an openness to ideas that create spaces for a new type of learning. Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Primary School sets a new benchmark for the emerging vertical school typology through the transformative power of great design.

National Award for Educational Architecture | Braemar College Stage 1, Middle School | Hayball | Victoria

Set on (at present) a sparse and fairly featureless paddock, with a view to Hanging Rock, Braemar College is a vibrant experiment in new forms of spatial organisation, seeking to transform teaching and learning.

The current design is only part of a larger master plan and therefore sits somewhat isolated and vulnerable in the open landscape. The real dynamics and energy are confined primarily to a set of six connected linear teaching modules, each a variation on an extended form, which sets up a clear diagram for the overall sequence of classrooms, educational levels and progression.

An external, covered, linear “street” – both a connector and a series of learning venues – defines a clear edge to the east and is the referent from which the teaching modules emerge. The plans show the repetition and mirroring of the modules – their internal divisions, rooms and common areas; but in reality, the spatial play is more diverse, more differentiated. Organizational bands run parallel from the eastern external street to the west, evolving from shared, enclosed meeting rooms, workshops and service zones into communicating corridors that contain breakout and informal learning spaces and furniture before becoming more organised yet flexible teaching zones. This scheme produces a vibrant educational environment.

National Commendation for Educational Architecture | Adelaide Botanic High School | Cox Architecture and DesignInc | SA

Adelaide Botanic High School offers an optimistic and progressive approach to the expansion of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning for high school students in South Australia. The school’s design by Cox Architecture and DesignInc gives a new spatial and organisational structure to teaching and learning, allowing students more agency in both their educational development and their social interactions.

The building operates as a dynamic matrix of public movement and respite; dedicated workspaces and flexible classrooms; intimate, group and large teaching rooms; and an openness and airiness that exploits the vertical structure.

National Commendation for Educational Architecture | QUT Creative Industries Precinct 2 | KIRK and HASSELL (Architects in Association) | Queensland

In QUT Creative Industries Precinct 2, Richard Kirk Architect and Hassell have created a new theatre of learning. Their design delivers a dynamic tertiary research and teaching environment on a demanding site. Heritage-listed military structures are carefully absorbed into the overall strategy of the project, consolidating a new creative precinct. An interdisciplinary learning approach informs the design, which uses a sectional strategy of administrative “blocks” and “verandahs” to orient the social spaces towards the east and mitigate the environmental impacts of the adjacent highway to the west. Louvred elevations modulate daylight and consolidate the formal language. Considered detailing supports the dynamic section, allowing engagement between communities of creative research, practice and learning.

ENDURING ARCHITECTURE

National Enduring Architecture Award | Sails in the Desert | Cox Architecture | NT

Cox Architecture’s Sails in the Desert (1985) is a nationally significant project designed to develop both a cohesive township and a sustainable visitor precinct to support the growing tourism demand at Uluru. The design nestles sensitively into the desert landscape, ensuring minimal visual impact and creating a new archetype for Australian settlement.

Located along a raised circulation spine that follows the natural contour of the site, a range of accommodation was developed. The original plan located staff residences at the centre, between two hotels. As the demand for accommodation evolved and increased, these residences were converted to short-stay apartments and new staff dwellings were designed to sit at the end of the township.

In addition to accommodation, the project included the creation of infrastructure to support an entire community, including school buildings, retail and service stations. Housing for workers, both permanent and temporary, was also part of the brief, which, given its scale and complexity,  demanded an architectural practice working at the height of its powers. All aspects of the project were developed in deep consultation with members of the local Indigenous community, some of whom came to live and work in the facility; this was an approach that was unique at the time.

Many aspects of the architecture, from colour to materials and urban form, speak of Cox’s ambition to develop a tangible form of contemporary Australian architectural expression. As a whole, the township was designed to respond to the climate, with careful consideration given to orientation, shade and prevailing breezes. In a location where large shade trees struggle to survive, elegant and innovative shade structures were developed.

Sails in the Desert is both of its time and timeless. Its enduring appeal demonstrates its capacity to capture the essence of an Australian vernacular, responding sensitively to the cultural, climatic and social conditions of the place. It was and is an iconic settlement in the service of one of our most important cultural and spiritual sites.

HERITAGE

The Lachlan Macquarie Award for Heritage | Premier Mill Hotel | spaceagency architects | WA

Heritage awards seem to either laud historical absolutism or accept heritage fragments as a mere backdrop to the contemporary commercial requirements of a redevelopment. Displaying neither of these tendencies, Premier Mill Hotel is refreshing and revelatory in its deep integration of a plethora of heritage artefacts and spatial leftovers, textures, materials and images that don’t simply invoke a past but celebrate its ingenuity and authenticity. This is a project that exhibits sincere and respectful care without being museum-like or overtly deferential. It celebrates the past by making it visible, relevant and part of the commercial allure of the hotel.

The building is effectively a spatial and material superimposition. A sophisticated and well-designed boutique hotel has been integrated into the fabric, the volumetrics and the residual hardware and mechanics of a redundant flour mill. This was not a stripping out of the old and a re-presentation of various bits and pieces of the mill in a new context; rather, it involved a delicate merging of a significant portion of the systems, mechanisms and engineering of the original mill. Simultaneously, it also provided bespoke details and hospitality features that give the hotel a one-of-a-kind confluence – a contemporary heritage.

Briefed to resurrect and transform an important remnant of Katanning’s agricultural/industrial past, and to position it as a hotel that celebrates and advances tourism in the Great Southern Region of Western Australia, Spaceagency architects has redefined the meaning of a heritage project. The historic hardware (machines, belts, cables, shafts and conveyors) of the flour mill remain in situ, with the hotel rooms, corridors, circulation areas and stairs inserted into the mill’s carcass in such a way as to retain an appreciation of the building’s original purpose. This is a master achievement, born of intelligence and attention.

National Award for Heritage | Paramount House Hotel | Breathe Architecture | NSW

Offering a bold yet sensitive approach to heritage adaptive re-use, Paramount House Hotel brings delight to this historic pocket of Sydney’s Surry Hills. Using the “artefact and ornament” approach to define old and new, the sheer alignment between the original brick building and the new copper crown responds decisively to the complex and congested urban site. Floating above the brick parapet, the delicate crown provides a permeable skin for light and ventilation to rooms and mediates privacy between buildings.

Externally, paint was removed from the facade to reveal the building’s original brickwork. Inside, historic fabric has been peeled away to reveal layers of time and function. In the glazed foyer, a light-filled atrium where heritage and new materials complement each other to celebrate then and now, your eye is drawn upwards by evidence of where a wall once stood.

Each room is unique and fitted with locally sourced fittings and fixtures. Remnant building features are characterful and celebrated throughout to create an authentic, comfortable and inviting home away from home.

National Commendation for Heritage | Flinders Street Station Façade Strengthening & Conservation | Lovell Chen | Victoria

At Melbourne’s Flinders Street Station, Lovell Chen has undertaken a forensic process to repair water-damaged original fabric, increase structural and seismic stability, and introduce new structure and servicing into an iconic civic asset. Every millimetre of the extant fabric has been carefully assessed, and a rigorous program of restoration and retention implemented, with all works adhering to the Burra Charter and undertaken while the critical transport infrastructure remained fully operational. An immense task of painstaking assessment, preservation and restoration, this vital exterior work sets a quality precedent for the future adaptation of the building’s interiors.

National Commendation for Heritage | Sacred Heart Building Abbotsford Convent Foundation | Kerstin Thompson Architects | Victoria

Melbourne’s Abbotsford Convent is on Australia’s National Heritage List as the largest intact example of an institution dedicated to the care of “fallen and wayward women.” Works by Kerstin Thompson Architects to accommodate a vibrant multi-arts community within the Sacred Heart Building are bold and brave. An articulated philosophy of “leave well enough alone” has guided every design decision so that the existing fabric is respected but reworked where necessary to support the building’s new uses. The result is an architecture that intrigues and enlightens. New elements – most visibly, a bridge connecting one part of the building to another – are distinctive and united through material (almost exclusively galvanized steel and light-filtering mesh). The project serves as an admirable precedent for further works at Abbotsford Convent and for the broader approach to heritage fabric.

INTERIOR ARCHITECTURE

The Emil Sodersten Award for Interior Architecture | Denton Corker Marshall Studio | Denton Corker Marshall | Victoria

Rarely has an interior work been so singular, so “on message”, as the interior design and fit-out of Denton Corker Marshall’s new offices in Melbourne. A design and execution of profound consistency, every metre of the office floor seems to re-affirm the attitudes and sensibilities of the practice. Such an unrelentingly limited palette and resolution of details could easily become overwhelming; however, by DCM, it has produced a very provocative, very non-commercial interior architecture. As a branding exercise – which undoubtedly it is not – it serves to make it quite clear that DCM does not stand for all things – only some very considered things. No client entering the minimalist lobby/foyer would believe that this is a practice where anything goes, or where all client demands will be satisfied. It is a powerful message.

Having vacated a multi-floored office in favour of one large floor plate, the firm chose Collins Place, designed by I. M. Pei and Bates Smart in 1981. The building’s distinct, large, non-mullioned windows create panoramas with a downward view-line, offering spectacular views, aligned off-grid, to Melbourne’s CBD.

Into this modernist relic, DCM has brought tones of grey, silver and black to unite disparate meeting rooms, work stations, presentation spaces, and various distinct offices and back-of-house areas. This consistency is never monotonous. Instead, it produces both a well-recognized sensibility and a background against which people and new work come to the fore. It is sombre without being severe.

Perforated metal panels line most walls, giving a singular skin to the office; the same material is used for pin-up (or magnet-up), storage, product literature shelves, and doors to toilets and the workshop. Large pivot panels close off or open up meeting and presentation spaces, with few areas closed by doors or thresholds. This is an anti-corporate corporate identity with subtlety but without any ambiguity as to where the practice stands.

National Award for Interior Architecture | Dangrove | Tzannes | NSW

A private art storage facility in inner-city Sydney, Dangrove constitutes a masterful arrangement of sublime spatial sequences. This exquisitely robust space is industrious and functional at the ground level and transitions to a series of connected curation and evaluation spaces on the upper level. The arrival and procession through the building is an experience of immense theatre.

Designed to house an expanding and internationally significant contemporary Chinese art collection, the interior of this state-of-the-art facility is formed through the combination of muscular and controlled formalism, and a calm and ordered material palette. It deftly and expertly blends pragmatic storage, technical facilities, and exhibition and event spaces.

A hierarchy of experiences has been created by these spaces, their interrelationships and the dramatic use of filtered natural light. Every aspect of the interior has been considered as a space of beauty, regardless of its role. Details are extraordinarily precise, creating a space that is technically and functionally flexible.

This is an interior that is designed to serve its current use explicitly; however, it will easily adapt for public use should the opportunity arise in the future.

National Award for Interior Architecture | The University of South Australia Cancer Research Institute | Swanbury Penglase with BVN | SA

The University of South Australia Cancer Research Institute interiors are both refined and restrained, working to strengthen a clear architectural parti and distinguishing between work spaces, meeting places and circulation areas.

A beautiful building section organizes research communities vertically, with meeting spaces, social spaces and terraces surrounding a northern atrium. Despite being centred around highly controlled work environments (laboratories), this building program enables remarkable workplace flexibility, openness and interaction, supporting the institute as a genuinely contemporary research hub.

Impressive in a building of this scale and typology, the presence of natural light is felt throughout the interior, from the public areas to the lift lobbies and meeting spaces. Even within the work areas, the careful design enables every workspace to sense a connection to daylight.

The material palette is consistent – natural timber, concrete, dark-coloured floors, dark-painted steel – with subtle shifts between zones according to use. Light-filled white laboratory spaces and completely blackened public exhibition spaces are the exceptions. A discrete use of mirror, colour and brass reveals a skilled sensibility. The high quality and consistency of approach to detailing throughout this large building is particularly noteworthy.

National Award for Interior Architecture | #TheBaeTAS | workbylizandalex | Tasmania

In #TheBaeTAS, an apartment with a tiny square-metre footprint located on the top floor of a 1970s walk-up block, workbylizandalex has created a spatial richness and a remarkable interior.

Original walls have been removed to create a single larger living space, with all the necessary accessories of domestic life – bed, kitchen, bathroom and storage – completely concealed. The architects have found additional volume by making use of the existing roof space. Pitched ceiling planes lit by skylight add a new scale dimension, fundamentally changing the experience of the space. The ceiling and walls are lined entirely in birch plywood and sit lightly upon a mute concrete floor plane. The singularity of material and balance of natural light imbue a strong sense of calm. The space transforms with the opening up of the bed and kitchen. The bathroom is other-worldly – deeply interior, a phenomenal top-lit space of maroon gloss tile.

A close collaboration between the architect and the joiner is evident in the meticulous jointing of the plywood panels, the precision of the tile set-out and the inventive door and joinery hardware. The Bae Tas provides a delightful and spatially diverse interior within a micro living environment.

INTERNATIONAL ARCHITECTURE

The Jørn Utzon Award for International Architecture | Somewhere Other | John Wardle Architects | Italy and Australia

Somewhere Other is an installation, a piece of furniture, a series of frames, a “camera” and an experience – as well as a meditation on the architecture of memory and place.

Produced for the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale, titled Freespace, this multi-faceted object-instrument is an intricate multimedia/multi-spatial environment displaying sophisticated architectural, cinematic and carpentry skills and sensibilities. Designed and developed by John Wardle Architects, it includes commissioned work of filmmakers Coco and Maximilian, and installation artist and filmmaker Natasha Johns-Messenger, and was constructed by joiners/fabricators Jacaranda Industries.

In the context of its original site, Venice, Somewhere Other connects and overlays multiple sensory experiences through apertures, viewing frames, refracted and mirrored images and filmic sequences. All the while, it links Italy to Australia, Venice to Geelong, with memories and fantasies overlaying all possible interpretations.

Entirely an architecture of discovery and exploration, and on a relatively compact footprint, space, time and materiality are joined through meticulous craftsmanship and execution. The device invites its audience to venture through portals and frames; to gaze into and through its various screens, surfaces and mirrors; and to calibrate and calculate where one space ends and another begins, where one memory ends and a fantasy unfolds.

Somewhere Other is a decidedly sensual object. The polished Australian timbers induce visitors to a slow touch at a portal, to run fingers along the corrugated snout, or to make a close inspection of the meticulous joinery. Beyond the conceptual play with perspective, constructed view lines, framing and the history of optics and mirrors, the work is also a dis-locator, being of and for Venice, but always demonstrating the interests and proclivities of John Wardle Architects. The filmic collage of Coco and Maximilian plays a loop of conjoined Wardle projects, situating this optical instrument as an “in camera” viewing room for a particularly Australian architect.

PUBLIC ARCHITECTURE

The Sir Zelman Cowen Award for Public Architecture | Green Square Library and Plaza | Studio Hollenstein with Stewart Architecture | NSW

Green Square Library and Plaza ambitiously responds to its context of the ever-increasing residential density of the Green Square town centre, which will become home to 61,000 people by 2030, according to the City of Sydney. Inherent to the project’s design strategy is the protection and preservation of an 8,000-square-metre public plaza; this is achieved by submerging much of the building program beneath it. The design privileges the plaza as urban “breathing space”, which it recognizes as a diminishing commodity that will become increasingly valuable as the area continues to densify.

Across the plaza, the elemental geometries of a triangle, circle, square and trapezium are strategically placed, hinting at building access and use. Their relative transparency creates beacons of light and activity, and allows views to and from the library and associated community spaces. In essence, this project is a kind of public living room with generous and vital areas that can be shared between adults, adolescents and children. It is a living heart and a place to exhale.

The stacking of community-programmed spaces within the mini-tower allows the building to be used day and night for a range of activities, from group meetings to quiet reading or music practice.

The design builds upon a clear understanding of the changing nature of public libraries. The library spaces are inherently flexible, being able to expand, contract, adapt and evolve as required. In contrast to the silence and reverence of a traditional library, the Green Square Library’s large rooms can accommodate a wide variety of dynamic pursuits. Large glazing cut-outs and skylights create a porous interface between the library and the plaza, ensuring constant connection with the outdoor environment and a crossover of activities.

Awarded through an international design competition, this project demonstrates what is possible when architects are encouraged and supported to tackle the challenges of our growing cities. By thinking creatively, Studio Hollenstein in association with Stewart Architecture has created a truly wonderful “third place”, an inviting and optimistic space for community engagement and civic life.

National Award for Public Architecture | Parliament of Victoria Members’ Annexe | Peter Elliott Architecture + Urban Design | Victoria

In one sense, the Parliament of Victoria Members’ Annexe is a “recessive” work, buried in the landscape and deferring to its context. This reticence and restraint deliver a certain timelessness and remarkable serenity to the offices of the state’s elected officials. In a space where favour and hierarchy formerly dominated, the architecture produces egalitarian and equitable offices and facilities.

The project exploits, or ‘relies’ on the landscape and the sensitive horticulture to give a dignity to the annexe. It exploits the existing garden to create a refreshing sense of relaxation and quietude that is particularly welcome in the context of a political epicentre. Although not open to the public, this is a project of the public and for the public good. One can’t help but hope that its architecture affects political discourse over time.

It would be remiss not to comment on the fact that this immensely successful project was achieved by eschewing the pressure for public projects to be procured and delivered by novation and design and construct methods, or externally project-managed. It is clear that quality has been the primary driver here, and the close working relationship between the client and the architect is fully evident – to the long-term benefit of all.

National Award for Public Architecture | HOTA Outdoor Stage | ARM Architecture | Queensland

A generative project for a new cultural precinct on the Gold Coast, the HOTA Outdoor Stage is the first project to be delivered as part of a vast riverside masterplan by ARM. Rather than an object-based approach, the master plan uses an ingenious relational strategy, inspired by a Voronoi

diagram, that accommodates and scales as the plan is delivered. The motif of the tessellated form knits a continuous narrative through the work, informing the planning and detail resolution of the architecture.

Conceived as a traditional black box theatre, a giant openable front allows the stage to be almost endlessly reconfigured, depending on the scale of the audience and the nature of the performance. The stage is conceived entirely in-the-round. The backstage is carefully accommodated under a vast concrete “cliff” above which a publicly accessible roof garden is densely landscaped with flowering native plants and brimming with birdlife.

This project clearly represents an enrichment of the original brief.  The design’s mounded form not only animates the typology of the public amphitheatre, it also reinvents the landscape experience of the Nerang River.

National Award for Public Architecture | Maitland Riverlink | CHROFI with McGregor Coxall | NSW

Maitland Riverlink is an exacting work, civically generous and courageous. Beyond the realization of an appropriate form for communal amenity, the design revitalizes and fortifies the communal consciousness.

The project offers the people of Maitland a public place that is both carefully scaled to the grain of its urban context and highly transformational. It is a public living room, an outdoor cinema, an urban stage, a covered plaza, a forecourt to a restaurant and cafe, a gallery for urban art and a threshold to a new riverside promenade.

The reintroduction of the Hunter River to the context of the main street has turned an economic and cultural tide. Shops and businesses are extending their frontages and reorienting to an expansive riverside network of public walkways and promenades.

Maitland Riverlink elevates a prosaic brief into a larger vision for the public good. The materiality of the project is uncompromising, with a robustness and hand-finished quality that bespeaks a deeper attitude of civic pride and care.

National Commendation for Public Architecture | Port of Sale | fjmt | Victoria

Port of Sale is an important project that supports both community life and tourism in the small Victorian regional city of Sale. The architecture breathes life and lightness into an existing brutalist building, combining regional art gallery, library, council chambers, community meeting spaces, information centre and cafe within a single facility. The transformation of two existing courtyards into significant public rooms as the basis of the project’s organization is effective and resourceful. The integration of new services throughout is deft, and interventions to balance light with view, open the interiors to the broader context and realize strategic civic connections to the Sale waterfront are skillfully executed.

RESIDENTIAL ARCHITECTURE – HOUSES (ALTERATIONS AND ADDITIONS)

The Eleanor Cullis-Hill Award for Residential Architecture – Houses (Alterations and Additions) | Terrarium House | John Ellway | Queensland

In Terrarium House, John Ellway has completely transformed a former single-bedroom timber cottage into a rich and delightful home with space for guests. A surprising spatial diversity is achieved through a series of simple but radical strategic moves.

On a site in inner Brisbane that slopes steeply away to the north, the original cottage was built with its verandah opening directly onto a narrow street. The architect has carefully repaired the cottage and retained its cellular rooms as bedrooms. New kitchen, dining and living spaces have been introduced within the former open undercroft at garden level. Upper and lower levels are united through a large internal void that both creates a feeling of spaciousness and draws sunlight into the plan.

The front verandah floor has been removed in an ingenious strategy that unlocks the original plan, allowing light, air and access between levels via a covered garden stair. Camouflaged by a dense vine, the trellised verandah appears almost untouched from the outside; only a slightly projecting bridge and handrail hint at the transformed habitation within. This project shifts the definition of “verandah” from a familiar element of public–private interface to a space of intrigue. The house maintains privacy while being porous and connected to the street.

The result of the architect’s moves is a highly sensorial interior that connects strongly to the garden. Every detail displays judicious effort and a well-pitched restraint. While the cottage is predominantly white, a dark ceiling, concrete floor and oiled timber joinery downstairs deliberately recall the shadowy quality of the original undercroft. Disappearing sliding doors make ambiguous the edge between house and garden, and the scent of the earth is present inside. There is a sophisticated handling of natural light using both clear and translucent glass as well as solid panels. Slatted floor surfaces and vegetation also filter the light. Terrarium House is an impressively clever and memorable project.

National Award for Residential Architecture – Houses (Alterations and Additions) | Powell Street House | Robert Simeoni Architects | Victoria

Powell Street House is a seductive, enticing gem of subtle transformations and judicious respect for existing features. The project is a critical collaboration between an architecturally literate client and an architectural practice whose palette is broad yet exacting and precise. The conjoining of two residences into one is achieved with finesse by moves that never overpower the original fabric or diminish the spatial scale of the existing structure.

A tactic of “lift and shift” has enabled delicate interventions that reject the conventional belief in light for light’s sake and focus instead on deep interiors with emerging luminosity. Being inside is rather like inhabiting a late Rothko painting, where the eyes adjust to participate in a slow reveal of dark tonalities and subdued textures. This alteration is neither minimal nor monochromatic; it is deeply considered and reflects the clients’ approach to fashion, architectural effects, daily life and a much-loved cat.

Powell Street House does not seek to maximize resale expectations. It is an exploration of the shifting balance between retention, deletion and addition. Its bold and somewhat quirky gestures play off restrained and period backdrops both powerfully and subtly.

National Award for Residential Architecture – Houses (Alterations and Additions) | Caroline House | Kennedy Nolan | Victoria

Full of eccentricities, Caroline House is a careful proposition designed to meet the specific needs of the client’s young family. A series of courtyards introduce sunlight into the new areas of the house and act as distinct outdoor rooms, setting a pattern of unfolding light that is extended in the palette and interior finishes. Exterior surfaces are continued internally to articulate the open structure of the room-making; this is particularly evident in the continuation of terrazzo floors from poolside to circulation, kitchen and living areas.

The deep, green, circular pool forms a hinge in the plan, activating the dappled quality of the light that is reflected back into the new living and sleeping spaces. Externally, formal references tie into the original Edwardian fabric of the house without being sentimental or referential.

This project, somehow both familiar and remarkably new, has a unique appeal. The playful planning belies Kennedy Nolan’s rigorous intention. Spatial motifs are employed to evoke a sense of togetherness and the thoughtful design gathers the young family into a soft, seasonal light.

National Commendation for Residential Architecture – Houses (Alterations and Additions) | Empire | Austin Maynard Architects | ACT

Empire is a deftly executed project that balances fine craft and detail with an intelligent response to the larger issues of suburban living. Initial design decisions and confident planning approaches have energized the existing post-war home by creating clear sight lines through a logical and curated sequence of interconnected spaces. Via the considered placement of two modestly sized pavilions, the relationship of the house to its site has been liberated and refigured, framing views and extending the experience of the interior into the garden. Empire creates a conversation between old and new that can be appreciated at every level.

National Commendation for Residential Architecture – Houses (Alterations and Additions) | Teneriffe House | Vokes and Peters | Queensland

With the original house – a 1909 Queenslander – almost lost to years of insensitive adaptation, this project tells a story of repair. Vokes and Peters emptied the plan by removing all interventions and recalibrating the structure into a variety of spaces that both honour the home’s heritage and meet the practicalities of modern life. A concrete plinth and cloister ground the new communal family spaces and link the original interior with the garden, reclaiming the ground and the sky. A work of rich composition, Teneriffe House bespeaks a mature narrative of domesticity and city-making.

National Commendation for Residential Architecture – Houses (Alterations and Additions) | Five Gardens House | David Boyle Architect | NSW

This delightful and whimsical project effortlessly stitches a new and vibrant addition to a modest 1950s house to take full advantage of its setting. David Boyle Architect’s reinterpretation of the typical post-war house plan, and skilful blending of spaces, has created a contemporary family home rich in possibility and habitable opportunity.

The delicately woven collection of spaces has been formed through an expertly handled manipulation of volume. The section creates a complex interplay of light that shifts throughout the day to maintain a warm interior. The architecture frames views into unique landscape settings, including five different gardens, initiating generous connections between inside and out.

RESIDENTIAL ARCHITECTURE – HOUSES (NEW)

The Robin Boyd Award for Residential Architecture – Houses (New) | Daylesford Longhouse | Partners Hill | Victoria

Daylesford Longhouse is utterly extraordinary – challenging in its questioning, enchanted in its outcome. Situated in rural Victoria, the house aims to nourish and sustain. The strategic starting point was a roof large enough to collect water to support a small number of people, some animals and a produce garden on a remote and exposed site. The core activity to be sustained by the architecture was food production, preparation and sharing.

The roof – roughly 12 metres by 130 metres – marks out a linear territory that, together with walls of sheet metal, translucent polycarbonate and agricultural mesh, preserve the interior (which includes the verdant garden) as a discrete climatic zone. The translucent skin, punctuated only by carefully curated picture windows, protects the garden from predators and exposure. Akin to a long shed or conservatory, the structure includes an operational barn at one end and an intimate residence at the other.

Internally, aedicules, arbours and eyries accommodate the domestic functions of kitchen, dining, sleeping and bathing. These spatial “follies” reference other times and places, and form the settings for continuously unfolding theatre. The sense of living within the garden is profoundly delivered.

Partners Hill has scaled up this design to the rural landscape to avoid being diminished by it. The site is a microcosm of the broader setting; “wild” grass mounds that reflect the mounded landforms in the distance are used to signify the building entry and the cultivated production garden extends into the house.

Inside, alongside the flourishing plant life, is a surprising richness of refined architectural detail – raw timber, terracotta and white-glazed brick, all composed harmoniously in a magical and constantly changing light. One is drawn from places nestled in the garden to places of survey in the canopy, in what is a deeply memorable experience of a house.

National Award for Residential Architecture – Houses (New) | House in the Hills | Sean Godsell Architects | Victoria

House in the Hills initially presents as an abstract intervention in the rural Victorian landscape, challenging our perception of rural domesticity. A hovering parasol, inspired by steel-framed hay sheds, performs as place-maker, defining the habitation precinct within the rolling 25-hectare site. Restrained and expansive, it establishes a datum line within the landscape, emphasizing changes in the typography.

Beneath this parasol, a new landscape is established, with two pavilions and the reshaped ground plane surrounding an inner courtyard. Above, the parasol’s operable louvres permit varying degrees of light and shade, depending on the time of year and day, and protect the house from pummelling south-westerly winds.

In contrast to the unashamedly rigorous metallic exterior, the house’s plywood interior is warm and inviting. Inside, the vast landscape views and broad extent of the parasol enlarge the perception of the modestly scaled rooms.

House on the Hills’ evocative silhouette is precise and immaculately detailed. This is an ambitious family home on a beautiful yet unrelenting site.

National Award for Residential Architecture – Houses (New) | Cloister House | MORQ | WA

The experience of this house lingers in the mind. Situated on a bustling and unremarkable arterial road in suburban Perth, the strength of its exterior belies a quality of neighbourliness. There are no fences and the pervious paving and garden is shared with the street.

Entry is through a deep threshold created by the mass of a recycled rammed-concrete wall. An eidetic move of enclosure and void establishes the primary parti of the plan. The house is zoned to accommodate compact living but readily expands for guests and family, with subtle differentiation by deep concrete ceiling beams that partition the main volume. The interiors are enveloping and harbouring.

Externally, a series of deep rammed-concrete surfaces softly redirects natural light into the depth of the plan, reducing glare and focusing the interior towards the verdant green of the courtyard, which is dominated by an enormous Colocasia.

The quality of the house stems from the deliberate and accomplished pursuit of a subtle monolithic materiality. Atmospherically, it recalls the traditional Moroccan riad and is similarly attuned to its locality, where the sun can be harsh. The resolution and economy of detail and unadorned surface is rigorous and poetic, creating a quality of complete embodiment and immersion.

National Award for Residential Architecture – Houses (New) | Hawthorn House | Edition Office | Victoria

Hawthorn House is an abstraction made material. It is a provocative spatial diagram transformed into a powerful experience of refined details and a restrained but luxurious palette of wood, curved glass and concrete.

Cubic, concrete masses, punctured by semicircular apertures, rest on delicate, residual supports, highlighting a constant interplay between heavy and light, solid and open, screening overhangs and curved floor-to-ceiling glazing. This vessel-like glazing defines two radiused, rectangular ground plans that are captured and bounded by thin-shelled concrete cubes. The glazing sets up an interiority that appears to expand outwards. The seamless continuity of the wood ceiling from inside to outside completes the soffit of the concrete shell as an extended membrane; it reinforces a sense of materials acting as singular skins, contributing to the house’s diagrammatic architecture.

The ground floor is a panorama at once open and blinkered. The controlled palette of materials expands only slightly as one moves from the ground-floor living, dining and kitchen areas to the upper-level bedrooms, where the two cubic masses differentiate the children’s and adults’ domains. Walled gardens visually release the internalized upper levels skywards.

National Commendation for Residential Architecture – Houses (New) | North Melbourne House | NMBW Architecture Studio | Victoria

North Melbourne House is a project that speaks to the future and, more specifically, to the important issue of ageing in place. Its social program drives a spatial inventiveness that is truly adaptable, allowing for multiple unprescribed modes of occupation. The architecture invites nesting. Considered detailing relies on neither material richness nor asceticism but is a sophisticated accumulation of the prosaic. Representing a clever assembly on the site and within its urban context, this house is modest and fundamentally sustainable.

RESIDENTIAL ARCHITECTURE – MULTIPLE HOUSING

The Frederick Romberg Award for Residential Architecture – Multiple Housing | Mermaid Multihouse | Partners Hill with Hogg & Lamb | Queensland

It was the determination of the jury to shift the Mermaid Multihouse from its State Award category of “Residential Architecture – Houses (New)” to the National Award category of “Residential Architecture – Multiple Housing.” As its name suggests, the project is something other than a single-family residence. If anything, it is a prototype for residential design that confronts the boundaries classifying housing based on conventional social groupings; this is housing beyond the nuclear family.

Mermaid Multihouse is an experimental dwelling(s) that subverts and plays against type. “Close-habiting” rather than cohabiting, a mother and her middle-aged son share this bi-generational arrangement. The house hides behind a broad, bounded facade that offers few clues to the duplicity of the interior planning. But the entry, through a full-height breeze-block screen, provides the first confounding of expectations: two extremely elongated, double-height symmetrical doors give access to separate but equal “arcades” topped by semicircular slatted ceilings that provide filtered light to the party-wall corridors.

Instead of the usual blankness belonging to a party-wall or terrace-block back, the light and airiness of these corridors is a defining element of the design. There is a grandeur to these spaces that belies the compactness of the two residences. The overall footprint of Mermaid Multihouse retains the scale and density of most of the neighbouring residential plots (some have doubled their spatial density for a single family), yet produces two distinct homes. The bedrooms, the kitchen and the living spaces of both residences are modest, if not elemental, but they are not mirror images; each residence has its own individual spatial order and material exploration. Even the gardens at the end of the corridors display distinct expression.

Offering individuation within a duopoly, Mermaid Multihouse is a rewarding prototype.

National Award for Residential Architecture – Multiple Housing | Whitlam Place | Freadman White in collaboration with Anon Studio | Victoria

Abutting a pocket park in Fitzroy, Whitlam Place is a refreshingly joyful addition to Melbourne’s maturing multiple-housing typology. Confidently negotiating the neighbourhood context between urban condition and park, it offers a model for ambitious infill architecture much needed to densify our suburbs. Subtle references abound. The development’s expressive facade of copper-infused concrete and framed window projections respectfully acknowledge its place.

In contrast to the typical offering, ceiling heights are consciously lifted, providing generous light and space. Expansive terraces celebrate the southern aspect and soft light through the mature park trees to the suburb beyond. On the ground-floor terraces, operable chainmail curtains permit views to the park while maintaining privacy for occupants.

Playful gestures continue inside. Fluted walls with neon lighting and in-situ terrazzo floors elevate the lobby experience. The interiors are light and generous with well-appointed kitchens at their centre. Together with their ambitious client, Freadman White in collaboration with Anon Studio have delivered a model housing project that brings great delight to both its occupants and the neighbourhood community.

SMALL PROJECT ARCHITECTURE

The Nicholas Murcutt Award for Small Project Architecture | Jock Comini Reserve Amenities | Kerstin Thompson Architects | Victoria

Located adjacent to Victoria’s busy Calder Highway south of Bendigo, Jock Comini Reserve Amenities are a welcome rest stop that appear crystalline during the day and radiate a welcome glow at night. Commissioned by VicRoads at a strategic location for travellers, the low-lying roof forms a distinctive intervention between the highway and the landscape.

As part of a building typology that prioritizes hygiene and safety, the project deploys a resilient material strategy to ensure durability, ease of maintenance and graffiti removal. Simultaneously, it offers a light-filled experience of beauty and delight. Composed of a minimal palette of glass and stainless-steel, the walls shift in plan to reflect the surrounding bushland – an unexpected discovery for the visitor. A concealed structure supports an expansive cantilevered roof that generously extends to shelter cubicles as well as circulation and car spaces. Rainwater harvested from the roof is stored onsite and re-used for handwashing and toilet flushing.

Repeat elements of translucent U-channel glass snake under the singular roof, framing secure, private amenity units. Mindful of the social and cultural sensitivities of such spaces, the geometry equalizes the normally gendered spatial order of roadside public facilities. The glazed, undulating wall establishes a safety margin of light around the perimeter circulation path, eliminating blind corners to prioritize personal safety. Stainless-steel T-wall units ingeniously divide zones and contain the operable elements and fittings for each cubicle.

The repetition and rhythm of the building’s elements permit various configurations of this small, rigorous design for future sites. Jock Comini Reserve Amenities is an exemplar for public facilities that bring delight and appreciation of the landscape to the rest-stop experience.

National Award for Small Project Architecture | Doubleground | MUIR + OPENWORK | Victoria

Doubleground exemplifies the opportunity for the creation of powerful spatial and temporal experiences through the amalgamation of landscape and architecture. In this project, Muir and Openwork have worked together to create memorable spatial sequences through a complex and skilful overlay of theory and practice. Rather than an object in the landscape, Doubleground becomes the landscape.

The expressive combination of curated “memories” and formal motifs that exist in the building and landscape at the National Gallery of Victoria have been reconfigured into a single meandering work that sensitively occupies the original courtyard. The project gives us an opportunity to see a familiar public space with fresh eyes and brings Roy Grounds’ original intentions to the surface. It is at once an homage to Grounds’ 1968 design and a creation genuinely of the moment.

Doubleground comfortably occupies the gallery courtyard and establishes a new foreground and background to the existing sculpture garden. Edges are often implied rather than rigidly formed as ground planes shift from floor to topography, inviting inhabitation and discovery, and opening a dialogue between memory and context. The depth, clarity and sensitivity of Doubleground is conceptually remarkable and experientially rich.

National Commendation for Small Project Architecture | Fish River Ranger Accommodation | Design Construct, School of Art Architecture and Design, University of South Australia | NT

The Fish River Ranger Accommodation project was undertaken by the University of South Australia’s Design Construct program for the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation. Students and rangers collaborated to adapt existing steel-framed tent structures to improve the comfort, amenity and privacy for users in the remote location. The project provided a valuable learning opportunity for students and the result is a model that delivers excellent accommodation for rangers and a viable tropical Indigenous housing alternative.

SUSTAINABLE ARCHITECTURE

The David Oppenheim Award for Sustainable Architecture | Parliament of Victoria Members’ Annexe | Peter Elliott Architecture + Urban Design | Victoria

The new Members’ Annexe for Parliament House is an impressive benchmark for sustainability in our public buildings. To fully understand the impact of this building, it is necessary to understand the former Members’ Annexe in the neighbouring heritage building. Inequitable rooms, insufficient access to natural light and poor thermal and acoustic performance all combined to create stressful working environments for our democratically elected representatives and their staff.

In dramatic contrast, Peter Elliott Architecture and Urban Design has delivered a project that, through skilful planning, provides equity in room allocation as well as generous and universal access to light and views. It maintains thermal comfort through the use of a progressive geothermal energy exchange system, eliminating the need for conventional chillers.

A masterful design strategy repurposes the building’s entire footprint as trafficable landscape by excavating the structure into the site so that it morphs with the surrounding gardens. The result is a low-level building that has minimal impact upon the broader precinct yet creates a striking two-storey elevation nestled within a sun-drenched courtyard. Passive solar principles configure the majority of rooms towards this north-facing courtyard, allowing unhindered views to the heritage buildings, garden and broader city fabric beyond.

Internally, local stone and timber has been used, helping to sustain local economies and reduce the project’s carbon footprint. These robust and carefully selected materials combine to create a series of calm and light-filled circulation spaces that connect seamlessly back to Parliament House.

This project shows what is possible when a truly skilled architect works respectfully with a client and has the capacity to embed sustainability credentials into every aspect of the design decision process. The result is an exceptional building that improves the often-hectic working lives of its inhabitants and which will support our democratic system for the next 100 years.

National Award for Sustainable Architecture | Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Primary School | BVN | NSW

Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Primary School showcases a holistic approach where decisions about sustainability are inseparable from the architecture. The project retains the structure of an existing 1970s concrete building – a former Telstra training centre. The linear plan and favourable orientation of the structure was ideally suited to its repurposing as a school.

A mass timber structure of glulam posts and beams, and cross-laminated timber floors, walls, roofs and a beautiful folding stair, is the dominant visible move and provides a significant carbon store. The architects have worked to preserve the timber structure as a finished surface, cleverly integrating services and managing fire safety. The architecture exploits the benefits of timber to wellbeing, applied to a learning environment for children. The use of timber also signals a heartfelt commitment to sustainability.

The plan layout maximizes passive control, with indoor learning areas connecting to generous north-facing outdoor spaces. A high-performance envelope with operable timber doors and windows allows the building to operate effectively in mixed mode. The design delivers demonstrably flexible learning spaces within an architecture that is calm and controlled.

Every experience is a learning opportunity; at Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Primary School, the architecture becomes an educator.

National Commendation for Sustainable Architecture | 25 King | Bates Smart | Queensland

Bates Smart’s 25 King, part of the Brisbane Showgrounds redevelopment, sets a new global benchmark as the tallest timber commercial building with the largest floorplate in the world. Glulam and cross-laminated timber (CLT) form an all-timber structural system that significantly reduces the building’s embodied carbon compared with conventional construction methods using concrete and steel. The carefully detailed expressed timber structure is the hero of the interior, encouraging a light touch for subsequent fit-outs. Working within the limitations of CLT, an efficient six-metre by eight-metre structural grid with side core delivers large, unencumbered floorplates for maximum workplace flexibility. 25 King is worthy, particularly as a potential catalyst for positive change in the construction of mid-scale commercial buildings.

National Commendation for Sustainable Architecture | The University of South Australia Cancer Research Institute | Swanbury Penglase with BVN | SA

The University of South Australia Cancer Research Institute is holistic in its approach to sustainability, from construction impacts to ongoing operation, robust building detailing and urban legacy. Notably, this project employs planning and services strategies that significantly curtail energy use in a typology that is customarily energy-intensive. Manifold laboratory exhausts, C02 monitoring and materials selection create a clean-air environment internally. Natural light is carefully modulated and the sectional strategy organizes research communities vertically, with diverse meeting and social spaces making for a healthy and socially sustainable working and learning place.

URBAN DESIGN

The Walter Burley Griffin Award for Urban Design | Maitland Riverlink | CHROFI with McGregor Coxall | NSW

A community newsletter pinned to a noticeboard in a new riverside cafe in Maitland proudly proclaims the area’s economic and urban renewal. At its centre is an image of a monolithic brick portal that frames a canopy of river red Gums, bringing the trees and the river into the Maitland streetscape. Clearly a remarkable urban proposition has been realised here.

For decades following a devastating flood, the connection between Maitland’s main street and the Hunter River was lost. Originally engaged to design public ablutions, CHROFI, working in collaboration with McGregor Coxall and the Maitland City Council, saw an opportunity to recalibrate the aspiration of the initial brief. What has followed is a masterstroke in urban intervention.

Beyond the original prosaic requirements of the project, the architects convinced the client to acquire a larger share of underused street front. Recalling the traditions of Renaissance urbanism – of civic rooms and gateways – they conceived a monumental gateway between the main street and the river, scaled to act as a public living room.

A quality of considered architectural engagement is evident at every scale. The oblique figure of the plan offers mass and depth to the sense of threshold. It creates tapering width to accommodate amenity and additional commercial functions, which orient to the river, while also setting the rich texture of handmade brick into the surface of the street. This geometry creates an exaggerated perspective that magnifies the proximity of the riverine landscape. The subtle curvature of the brick edge resolves the main gesture of the plan and creates a sharp but wholly tactile resolution to the work.

This is a consummate and inspired intervention, an armature for urban amenity and civic pride.  Through careful and generous processes, the architecture has made promises of a larger future, and reestablished a community’s relationship with its’ river.

National Award for Urban Design | Parliament of Victoria Members’ Annexe | Peter Elliott Architecture + Urban Design | Victoria

The Parliament of Victoria Members’ Annexe is an ambitious yet restrained contribution to Melbourne’s parliamentary precinct. It gives clarity and coherence to an assemblage of government buildings that, over many years, had devolved into a rabbit warren of additions, subdivisions and haphazard enclosures. What has been accomplished is not only of high architectural merit; it is transformative to the practice of government for the state of Victoria.

In contrast to the previous cramped and inadequate spaces, all new parliamentary offices have natural light and external views. Where inequitable space and amenity reinforced hierarchy and temporal political power, all members of parliament now enjoy equal facilities.

The design is as much a piece of landscape as it is a building. It is a “building-scape”, where a new cloister courtyard, sunken and yet full of light and vegetation, makes every office a special one;

where corridors provide opportunities for informal meetings and consultation as much as they enable circulation and movement. The act of recessing the building into the grounds of the Parliament Precinct reduces its outward visibility but heightens its social relevance to the mechanics of government. This is a humble project with powerful urban effects and consequences.

National Award for Urban Design | Yagan Square | Lyons in association with Iredale Pedersen Hook and landscape architects ASPECT Studios | WA

Yagan Square is a critical project that sets a new standard for the potential impacts of genuine collaboration and informed consultation in the design of urban spaces. By layering existing and historical circulation, Yagan Square physically reconnects the entertainment and cultural precinct of Northbridge with Perth’s CBD, re-establishing the site as a natural meeting place for people.

The design turns the combined challenges of access and substantial changes in site levels into opportunities for compelling and previously unrealized views of the city and surrounds.

The dense and cleverly crafted landscape is both engaging and robust as it weaves across the topography, moving pedestrians effortlessly from upper to lower ground levels. Multiple spaces are formed by these topographical shifts, allowing the public domain to be used by large groups or by individuals at any time of the day or night.

A rich and dynamic experience has been created through the layered referencing of Indigenous and colonial history, geography, local materiality and flora. As Perth continues to densify around Yagan Square, this space that celebrates and acknowledges our cultural and colonial past, while offering a glimpse of a positive future, will become an increasingly important part of the city’s urban fabric.

National Award for Urban Design | Green Square Library and Plaza | Studio Hollenstein with Stewart Architecture | NSW

Green Square Library and Plaza was awarded through international competition as a standout for its key design move: to locate the bulk of the library program underground in anticipation of a tall and dense urban future all around it. The built outcome is testament to the generosity of this strategy. It opens up a major portion of the site as accessible public space and ensures that sunlight will reach future southside retail and cafes, undoubtedly enhancing their viability and the vibrancy of the place as a whole.

The four ensemble elements – the entry wedge, the sunken circular garden, the tower and the tiered seating – bring light into the library and cleverly provide different opportunities for access. They are skilfully scaled and placed, giving order to the plaza without dominating it. An array of circular skylights is seamlessly integrated with the pavement; at night they become beacons, illuminating and bringing life to the plaza. The design manages difficult site constraints with apparent ease. It successfully integrates public art both in the plaza itself and within the library, visible from the plaza.

Green Square Library and Plaza is emerging as the urban and community heart of Green Square. This is place-making led by investment in high-quality public space.

COLORBOND® AWARD FOR STEEL ARCHITECTURE

National COLORBOND® Award for Steel Architecture | Yagan Square | Lyons in association with Iredale Pedersen Hook and landscape architects ASPECT Studios | WA

At Yagan Square, steel is celebrated as both a robust and delicate material, oscillating between background and foreground to a narrative that celebrates our past and offers a contemporary public space for the future. Yagan Square is a place created from a rich and dense overlay of stories, ideas, culture and community. Its carefully considered material palette is at the centre of its public expression and the articulation of a significant cultural landscape.

Beyond the use of steel as a structural system, perforated, etched and meticulously crafted Corten steel is deployed as a storytelling device in its own right. Its weathered surface absorbs the harsh Western Australian sun, conjuring up images of the state’s mining and infrastructural heritage as well as the ferrous stone gorges and vast deserts that characterize its unique landscape.

In striking contrast, steel is also used in a delicate and ephemeral digital tower in which fourteen slender steel columns sway gently in the wind, inspired by the reeds that originally grew in the wetlands that once occupied the site and representing the fourteen Nyoongar language groups. This landmark steel structure synthesizes the relationships, conversations and collaborative efforts of the architects, client, Indigenous working group and consultant engineers in creating this memorable and timeless urban public space.

For media enquiries contact:

Fiona Benson
On behalf of the Australian Institute of Architects
+61 (0) 407 294 620 | E. fiona@fjpartners.com.au

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