Artisan Apartments

EME Design has taken out the Building Designers Association of Victoria 2016 Building Design of the Year award for the Artisan Apartments development in Heidelberg in Melbourne.

It is the first time a multi-residential project has won BDAV’s top gong, with the project also winning awards for energy-efficient design, multi-residential design and environmentally sustainable design.

“The team at EME Design have ‘designed for the future’, creating a true exemplar of sustainable living and ticking all the boxes in a convincing and credible manner,” judging panel chair Timothy Ellis said.

“Through features such as carefully detailed building fabric and internal daylighting, water efficient plumbing fixtures and a 20,000 litre rainwater tank, as well as energy-efficient lighting, occupants will benefit from lower running costs and healthier spaces.”

The development’s design also ensures high levels of natural cross-ventilation through the relationship between the apartments and common areas. Internal thermal mass, a well-insulated building fabric, framing and shading the glazing to optimise thermal performance, and energy-efficient lighting all contributed to the apartments achieving an average NatHERS rating of 8.6 stars and a STEPS rating of 339.9.

“Truly sustainable design is a challenging exercise, as it actually has many dimensions to address: energy and water efficient performance, prudent material usage and durability, social liveability, even aesthetic attractiveness,” the jury citation said.

The judges also noted the use of Universal Design principles, including a continuous accessible path of travel throughout the building and pre-planning to ensure adaptability within the apartments if the needs of residents change due to ageing or disability.

EME Design also took home another award in the residential design: new houses up to $300K category for its Cathedralette project in Brunswick.

The judges said the “budget makeover” of a small cottage using a simple, robust palette of finishes including lime-washed walls and timber ceiling claddings created a “light-filled and airy modern home”.

“The home reflects the client’s passion for sustainability, love of nature and Australian materials. It is a brave little building.”

Other award-winners also highlighted a growing trend for sustainable design.

The Culvert House in Trentham by Maxa Design won the residential design: new houses $300K-500K category. The home has been sited to maximise the outlook and winter solar access and “demonstrates the essence of passive solar design principles”, the jury citation said.

Culvert House, Trentham

“The design provides the occupants a zero energy and zero water future through low-tech integrated systems, allowing them an uncomplicated lifestyle in a beautiful rural setting.”

The Culvert House was also highly commended in the best environmentally sustainable design category “because of the comprehensive and effective steps taken in the design process to address sustainability criteria”.

“At a relatively modest capital cost, the Culvert House demonstrates the leading-edge resource management features that reflect best practice,” the judges said.

“Energy neutrality and water management self-sufficiency are not only highly appropriate to the Trentham setting of this property, but also point the way ahead for residential buildings in sprawling coastal cities where a large number of Australians live.”

The judges also commended the project for its use of local materials, including spotted gum, and an attention to embodied energy, “an initiative that is actually well in advance ahead of national building code considerations.”

The judges noted that overall it was gratifying to see how many submissions to the awards recognised the importance of good energy performance as an “integral feature of any building laying claim to design excellence”.

“However, many claims for passive solar design and high insulation levels were not supported by solid evidence such as accredited NatHERS energy ratings,” they said.

The award for best environmentally sustainable design – non-residential was won by NRG Systems for the Winton Wetlands Hub.

The Winton Wetlands Hub

“The client brief called for the Winton Wetlands Hub to be environmentally sensitive, technically innovative and socially engaging for the local community. This criteria can actually been read as code for sustainable design in its purest sense,” the judges said.

The Hub addressed this design brief in an effective and credible manner, they said.

Its “comprehensively worked” sustainability features and its function as a community resource to heighten the awareness of visitors and locals to the significance of the surrounding wetlands and the area’s Indigenous cultural heritage were also said to be “particularly commendable”.

  • Read the full list of 2016 BDAV Awards winners here