By Tina Perinotto

6 November 2009 – One of Australia’s most magical, charming and sustainable buildings, designed for a  very low budget, has won the prestigious World Architecture Festival Awards, sports section, announced today in Barcelona.

Two other Australian firms also won in their categories – Sydney based Choi Ropiha, with US based Perkins Eastman and William Fellows/PKSB for the TKTS Booth in Times Square, and Melbourne based  McBride Charles Ryan for the Klein Bottle house on the Mornington Peninsula.

Dubbed the “disappearing building”, The Allen Jack + Cottier designed Berry Sports Hall, inspired by the “endless Australian sky” features eccentric holes punched through the concrete walls that at night emulate and merge into the starry sky.

It was built for an amazingly low A$1.3 million.

And proving the value of design over might and wealth, it beat the world renowned Wimbledon Centre Court redevelopment and the Atlantic Health Jets Training Facility to take out the sports category award in these highly contested “Olympics” of architecture.

According to AJ+C account of the project:

“Set on 60 hectares of rolling countryside in Berry, the site was originally an experimental dairy farm and has made way for a fun and innovative multipurpose hall for basketball, netball, rock climbing, dance and theatre.

“Reminiscent of a modern farm shed, the building comprises two long sides of precast concrete panels, each pierced by 500 shards of glass in amoeba-like windows, allowing natural light to flood the halls in the day and interior lights to shine through at night, illuminating the building and making it “disappear” into the night sky.

“The structure reflects this year’s festival theme ‘Less does more’, and shows how innovative and cost effective design can transform the architectural landscape, marrying the realities of environmental and economic necessity.

“Michael Heenan, Project Architect and a Principal of AJ+C, said ‘This project shows how we can do more with less, using cost effective precast concrete to transform a building into an iconic structure, providing a template which can be used for future projects.’

“The building also features ecologically sustainable design, including natural ventilation and recycling of rainwater collected from the roof.”

The Festival was attended by over 2000 architects and designers and attracted 800 shortlisted entrants from 63 countries around the world.

Berry Sports and Recreation Hall also won the Australian Institute of Architects Public Architecture Award and the Blacket Award for Regional Architecture in 2008.

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