Australian buildings pushing new boundaries â€“ including a â€˜testosterone-chargedâ€™ creative learning center in Queensland, an iconic public building in China, and a â€˜determinedly avant-gardeâ€™ house in the Victorian countryside â€“ are among major winners at this yearâ€™s top architecture awards.
The Australian Institute of Architectsâ€™ National Architecture Awards are Australiaâ€™s most prestigious annual architecture prizes. The 2008 awards were presented to the nationâ€™s most inspiring recent architectural projects, and the architects who created them, at a special ceremony last night in Adelaide. A total 31 awards and commendations across 12 categories were awarded to projects in Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania, the ACT, NSW, Western Australia, South Australia, China and Singapore.
Presenting the awards and commenting on this yearâ€™s winners, Jury Chair and widely acclaimed architect Alec Tzannes said: â€œ2008 represented an exceptionally strong year for architecture, with new benchmarks set in a number of key categories â€“ such as public architecture, single housing and multi-residential architecture, along with heritage. In particular, public architecture was very well represented, with many outstanding submissions from urban, suburban and regional locations. The most remarkable were projects involving private secondary school buildings.â€
Topping the list, is the recipient of Australiaâ€™s top annual national architecture award - the 2008 Sir Zelman Cowen Award for Public Architecture, awarded this year to the â€˜robustâ€™ Cherrell Hirst Creative Learning Centre at Brisbane Girls Grammar School by dynamic young Brisbane-based architects m3architecture. It is the second consecutive year the top public building award has gone to a project in the city of Brisbane.
Mr Tzannes said: â€œThis building is designed for young women and based on research indicating teenage girlsâ€™ needs - for social interaction, to congregate in groups, and to see and be seen. The centre aims to develop initiative, creativity and independence by encouraging unstructured student interaction for personal development, in parallel with more typical structured learning. To this end, a multi-level â€œsocial interactionâ€ space is integrated with specialized teaching facilities. This space provides an extraordinary learning environment filled with vitality.â€
National Awards for Public Architecture were also presented to the Seaford Life Saving Club in Victoria by Robert Simeoni Architects Pty Ltd, the Albury Library Museum in rural NSW by ARM and another educational facility setting new benchmarks - the Nigel Peck Centre for Learning and Leadership in suburban Melbourne by John Wardle Architects.
In a quartet of wins that stamped 2008 as their year, and as the masters of educational facilities, John Wardle Architects also received a National Commendation for Public Architecture for the Hawke Building at the University of South Australia (joint project delivery with Hassell Ltd), a National Commendation for Interior Architecture for the Queensland Brain Institute (with Wilson Architects architects in association) at the University of Queensland, and the Emil Sodersten Award for Interior Architecture for the Nigel Peck Centre for Learning and Leadership at Melbourne Grammar.
For the third consecutive year, Australiaâ€™s most prestigious residential award â€“ the Robin Boyd Award for Residential Architecture - Houses, was presented to an innovative house on Victoriaâ€™s Mornington Peninsular â€“ the Klein Bottle House by Melbourne couple Rob McBride and Debbie Lynn Ryan of adventurous practice McBride Charles Ryan. The jury said: â€œThis determinedly avant-garde house uses a complex mathematical model as a metaphorical generator for a new spatial experience. The spiral form of the house makes the most of what is potentially a difficult sloping site by slowly twisting out of the dark tea-tree at ground level and reaching up to the light-filled views.â€ They added: â€œThe overall perception of the house is one of a distinctive new language for domestic architecture, a language that draws from mathematics to develop an architecture of excitement, intrigue and new possibilities.â€
The Frederick Romberg Award for Residential Architecture - Multiple Housing was presented to Sydney-based practice Stanisic Associates for EDO in inner-city Woolloomooloo. The jury said: â€œThe architects have demonstrated sensitivity, skill and experience in negotiating an impressive balance between the commercial interests of the client, the comfort and amenity of the occupants and architectureâ€™s responsibility to the public domain. They have created an exemplary model for multiple housing in an urban setting.â€
Australiaâ€™s top award for international architecture, the Jorn UtzÃ¸n Award for International Architecture, was awarded to a venue recently intriguing billions of people around the world - â€“ the innovative Watercube National Swimming Centre Beijing by the Sydney-led team of CSCEC + PTW Architects + CCDI + ARUP. Situated along the main axis of the Olympic Green across from the National Stadium, the National Swimming Centre was one of the two main venues for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, with the jury saying: â€œThe â€œWatercubeâ€ and the â€œBirdsnestâ€ have become the symbols of the Games, and they are worthy companions. The design of the National Swimming Centre combines the idea of the molecular structure of water with the symbol of the square to create an inspired and inventive architecture.â€
A â€œmodest budgetâ€ commercial project required to fit â€œin a large, open, shopping mall car park adjacent to a freeway and near a railway stationâ€ â€“ the Hume City Council Offices by Melbourne-based practice Lyons - was awarded the Harry Seidler Award for Commercial Architecture. The jury said these issues had â€œnot deterred the architects from creating a bold and inspired designâ€, adding â€œthese apparent constraints have stimulated invention and set in motion a straightforward, direct approach to the functional, practical and economic parameters that are routine in this type of commission.â€
The reinvigoration and sensitive transformation of a vast complex of 120-year old inner-city railway workshop buildings â€“ the CarriageWorks at Eveleigh by Sydney practice Tonkin Zulaikha Greer - was awarded the prestigious Lachlan Macquarie Award for Heritage. The jury said: â€œThe buildings have been transformed to create vibrant performing arts spaces that will, the jury hopes, establish a precedent for the retention of other industrial buildings within this important historic precinct. Eveleigh CarriageWorks demonstrates the benefit of a â€œless is moreâ€ approach to restoration, the importance of appropriate continuing uses and, above all, the need for intervention within historic buildings to be of the highest design quality.â€
An iconic address on Sydney Harbor, The Wharf by Vivian Fraser in association with the NSW Government Architect, received the National 25 Year Award for Enduring Architecture, being described by the jury as continuing to set an international benchmark for this type of architectural project. The jury said: â€œIt represents a skillful blend of sound urban design, conservation, adaptive reuse and contemporary architecture and as a consequence is an essential aspect of Sydneyâ€™s urban culture. The Wharf remains an essential community and tourist facility after more than two decades of continuous, robust use.â€
A major new residential and mixed-use development located in the outer western suburbs of Sydney on a greenfield site - Rouse Hill Town Centre by Rice Daubney, Allen Jack+Cottier, Group GSA â€“ received the Walter Burley Griffin Award for Urban Design. â€œRouse Hill breaks away from the â€œbig boxâ€ model of internal retail centers and creates a network of open and semi-open streets, lanes, squares and public spaces more closely aligned with the values of the traditional small town,â€ the jury said. â€œThe consortium of architects, planners and developers has worked hard to create a relaxed environment of human scale, pedestrian amenity and material quality on a large greenfield site.â€
The National Award for Small Project Architecture was presented to the Childrenâ€™s Activity Centre by PHOOEY Architects, with the jury praising the project as providing lessons for architecture of every scaleâ€. They added: â€œThe architects have worked tirelessly and directly with their clients and end users to create a wonderful building that is inventive, flexible, contextually strong and environmentally considerate. Rather than proving a hindrance, the tight budget has become a driver of the project and necessitated some original and creative decision making on the part of the architects. The project has become an important and well-used part of a disadvantaged community. It provides a valuable resource, much needed infrastructure and a flexible, inspiring space that is full of possibility.â€
A project at Melbourneâ€™s new RSPCA headquarters - RSPCA Burwood Redevelopment - Stage 1: Kennels by NHArchitecture â€“ received the National Award for Sustainable Architecture. Careful research led the architects to implement a range of strategies effectively minimizing the dogsâ€™ stress - reducing barking and increase the comfort of both human and canine occupants. These strategies included a â€œwell-conceived ventilation system, which provides a high air change rate, minimizing the transfer of scent, which significantly reduces barkingâ€. They added: â€œThe buildingâ€™s striking architecture in combination with its happy canine and human occupants has led to increased adoption rates, a tangible example of the benefits of architect-designed facilities.â€
The ColorbondÂ® Award for Steel Architecture was presented to Hobart-based firm Heffernan Button Voss Architects for the Aurora Operations Facility in Tasmania, described as â€œan elegant and inventive building that delights in many waysâ€. The jury said: â€œIt sits well in the landscape, it uses materials cleverly and it transforms the big industrial shed, taking it to a new level of sophistication. This clever structure demonstrates how long spans can be achieved with minimal steel sections and material quantity. The project achieves internal spans of 38 meters with a 12-meter cantilever for the truck bays, with a modest 460 universal beam.â€
All images by the Australian Institute of Architects.
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