Adrian Ashton Prize
for architectural
culture and literature

2020 Adrian Ashton Prize winner | John Dunn, Amiera Piscopo and Ben Peake

About the Prize

Congratulations John Dunn, Ben Peake and Amiera Piscopo

The book Sirius by John Dunn, Ben Peake and Amiera Piscopo, while undoubtedly written to articulate the case for the affirmative to stakeholders in the present, also proves equal to the task of detailing this argument for future audiences, adding another layer to the legacy of the building. Sirius efficiently captures so many dimensions of this fraught history, moving from the architectural to the social, the scale of the room to the impact on the city, the politics of the past and the present, intimate portraits of the people for whom all of this has been for, and a frank account of the administration that has failed them. With this book, we are closer to ensuring this does not happen again.

Adrian Ashton Prize for architectural culture and literature

First introduced in 1986 as a biennial award, the Adrian Ashton Prize recognises an outstanding piece of architectural reporting and criticism. Open to journalists, editors, authors, producers and others reporting on architecture and design in NSW, the prize promotes quality communication, public engagement and high-quality debate. In 2016 the prize eligibility was broadened to incorporate books, design focused public events and expanded digital media.

find out more

The 2019 David Oppenheim Award | Parliament of Victoria Members’ Annexe | Peter Elliott Architecture + Urban Design | Vic | Photographer: John Gollings
The 2019 National Award for Public Architecture | HOTA Outdoor Stage | ARM Architecture | Queensland | Photographer: John Gollings
Joynton Avenue Creative Centre and Precinct | Peter Stutchbury Architecture in association with Design 5 - Architects for City of Sydney | Photographer: Michael Nicholson
The 2019 Harry Seidler Award | Dangrove | Tzannes | NSW | Photographer: Ben Guthrie

Background

The 2019 David Oppenheim Award | Parliament of Victoria Members’ Annexe | Peter Elliott Architecture + Urban Design | Vic | Photographer: John Gollings

Purpose

The prize acknowledges the role and contribution of people who:

  • bring architecture to the attention of the general public
  • create awareness of architectural practice
  • generate quality public debate about architectural issues and,
  • provide information for relevant professionals and specialists in the areas of architecture, interior design and environmental design.

Adrian Ashton (1907 – 1982)

Adrian Ashton wrote for a number of architectural journals and was Managing Editor, Building Publishing Co. Pty. Ltd., publishers of architectural, building and engineering journals 1930 – 1967 including ‘Building’, ‘The Australian Engineer’, ‘Construction’. He was the Honorary Editor of the Chapter Bulletin for the Royal Australian Institute of Architects (NSW Chapter) from January 1943 until December 1953. From 1965 – 1972 he edited university publications and undertook public relations work as public information officer at the University of New South Wales.

Ashton was a fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects and life fellow of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects having been a Councillor (1943 – 1952), President (1948 -1950) & member of the Board of Architectural Education of the NSW Chapter.  In 1964 he was awarded a C.B.E. for Services to Architecture. His involvement in architecture and his deep love of old buildings lead him to found the NSW Branch of the National Trust in 1948 and become the first president.

Judging

Evaluation criteria

  1. The submission should provoke active discussion, incite informed responses and challenge public perception about the work of architects, interior designers, urban and environmental designers, both in the built and unbuilt environment.
  2. The submission should reflect an intelligent, balanced yet critical, well-reasoned and evocative view of the subject under discussion. This may well include the author/organiser’s passionate expression or opinion but this should be clearly differentiated.
  3. The submission should demonstrate the author/organiser’s awareness of architecture’s social and educational context.
  4. Coherence of visual, written or spoken commentary is essential.
  5. The submission must reflect standards of excellence expected of the participating media. It should be well designed and well written in plain English to easily communicate with economy, imagination and coherence.

Conditions for award

The Jury may decide, entirely at its discretion, to offer one or more awards that recognise excellence. They may also choose not to award in any year. 

Jury composition

  • Chair of Editorial Committee or a nominated representative
  • Chapter President or a nominated representative
  • A previous Prize recipient
  • A media representative/journalist
  • Additional jurors may be invited

2020 Jury

  • Dr Kerwin Datu (Chair)
  • Andrew Nimmo
  • Catherine Hunter
  • Gemma Savio
The 2019 National Award for Public Architecture | HOTA Outdoor Stage | ARM Architecture | Queensland | Photographer: John Gollings

How to enter

Joynton Avenue Creative Centre and Precinct | Peter Stutchbury Architecture in association with Design 5 - Architects for City of Sydney | Photographer: Michael Nicholson

Eligibility & conditions of entry

Open to journalists, editors, authors, producers and others reporting on architecture and design in NSW, the Prize accepts entries from electronic, print, specialist, popular and online media, as well as specialist architectural and design focused public events. Submissions in 2020 should have been broadcast, published, circulated, or have occurred in New South Wales between 1st January 2018 and 1st August 2020.

To be eligible, submissions need to have been:  

  • written or produced by a resident of New South Wales, or
  • circulated, or occured in New South Wales, or
  • about an architectural topic relevant to New South Wales.

Key dates

Submissions for the 2020 Adrian Ashton Prize have closed.

Submission requirements

To enter you will need: 

  • Details of the submission including author, contributor and publisher details;
  • Confirmation you are the author/owner of the work, and/or have authorisation from the owner to submit;
  • Hard or digital copies of the entry or associated materials available; and
  • All materials must be converted into electronic format and submitted via the online platform.

Contact

For more information regarding this prize, please email kat.han@architecture.com.au

2020 Adrian Ashton Prize Winner

John Dunn, Ben Peake and Amiera Piscopo
Sirius

The battle to retain the Sirius building by Tao Gofers has been one of the most important causes taken up by the NSW architecture profession in recent memory, notable for a profession that is often rather tame politically. It is a battle for everything architecture should be about—the design of good buildings that ennoble the lives of their occupants, certainly, but also a forceful promotion of the public good in every sense, defined over a long term perspective, cognisant of what is fair and just, of what deserves preservation. 

Documenting this battle is critical to ensuring that its lessons continue to be heeded, not only by ourselves, but also by the community organisations who continue to face similar confrontations, and by governments who we hope will be more circumspect in the future. 

The book Sirius by John Dunn, Ben Peake and Amiera Piscopo, while undoubtedly written to articulate the case for the affirmative to stakeholders in the present, also proves equal to the task of detailing this argument for future audiences, adding another layer to the legacy of the building. Sirius efficiently captures so many dimensions of this fraught history, moving from the architectural to the social, the scale of the room to the impact on the city, the politics of the past and the present, intimate portraits of the people for whom all of this has been for, and a frank account of the administration that has failed them. With this book, we are closer to ensuring this does not happen again.

2020 Adrian Ashton Prize winner | John Dunn, Amiera Piscopo  and Ben Peake
2020 Adrian Ashton Prize winner | John Dunn, Amiera Piscopo and Ben Peake

2020 Adrian Ashton Prize Commendation

Michael Bleby
House Rules

Michael Bleby is one of the few journalists writing for the mainstream press who is interested in architecture and architectural issues. His writing is well researched, well written and brings a perspective to architecture that brings it out of the colour magazine and in amongst genuine news articles—giving it a rightful place within our public debates.

‘House Rules’ (The Australian Financial Review Magazine, 6 April 2018) brings to our attention the story behind the creation of one of this country’s most important modern pieces of architecture—Parliament House in Canberra. He highlights a critically important gap in the stewardship of this national architectural asset, and how politicians, not architects or experts, are responsible for decisions regarding changes—both big and small, permanent or temporary. Changes will always be necessary as needs change and all assets need to remain relevant. However, Michael Bleby opens up a larger debate around the management and respect of national assets, like Parliament House, the Sydney Opera House and others, that is timely and necessary.

2020 Adrian Ashton Prize Commendation | Michael Bleby | Photographer: Simon Schluter
2020 Adrian Ashton Prize Commendation | Michael Bleby | Photographer: Simon Schluter

2020 Adrian Ashton Prize Commendation

Tim Ross
Designing a Legacy

Designing a Legacy, the hybrid show by comedian and design enthusiast Tim Ross, expands the boundaries of architectural storytelling. Presented live, with his signature zeal for residential architecture, Ross shares a series of short films, each providing an intimate history of an Australian mid-century house.

In Designing a Legacy, Ross has allowed the houses and the people who live in them to take centre stage. Told from the perspective of both owners and architects—alongside archival footage, photographs, and subtle interjections from Ross—each film is compelling in its own right. As a whole, Designing a Legacy shares the deeply personal stories embedded in residential architecture and establishes the resounding significance of these homes, and others like them to a broad audience.

2020 Adrian Ashton Prize Commendation | Tim Ross | Photographer: Alexander Mayes
2020 Adrian Ashton Prize Commendation | Tim Ross | Photographer: Alexander Mayes

2019 Adrian Ashton Prize Winner

Catherine Hunter

The documentary ‘Glenn Murcutt: Spirit of Place’, traces the construction of the Australian Islamic Centre in Newport, Victoria – possibly Murcutt’s most important public building to date – alongside reflections on his overall body of work by leading architects and critics including Haig Beck, Keith Cottier, Norman Foster, Frank Gehry and Françoise Fromonot. This work adds another valuable record to the documentation of Australia’s only Pritzker Prize winning career to date.
More importantly, Hunter shows us an Islamic community in an evolving industrial suburb of Melbourne, who might otherwise have been considered a marginalised voice in a marginalised place, invoking its agency to take control of the narrative that has built up around it, and seeking to prove that it is just as much an Australian community — an active and integral participant, inclusive and embracing — as any other in our society.
Hunter’s work does so by deploying architecture to evoke these values and embody this openness, thus demonstrating even to architects the power of our own practice and product. The community’s struggles — with budget and time overruns, with wet weather, with self-doubt and weakening morale — is not brushed over but shown ultimately as part of the reward of the process.
By reaching out to a broad television audience, ‘Glenn Murcutt: Spirit of Place’ does not simply exhibit architecture to passive viewers, but captures the act of one section of the Australian public speaking to the whole — a dialogue spoken through the medium of architecture, and documented through the medium of film, arguably the best available medium for the task.

 

2019 Adrian Ashton Prize winner Catherine Hunter, juror Dr Kerwin Datu and Prof Glenn Murcutt | Photographer: Alexander Mayes