ARM Architecture's Geelong Library & Heritage Centre. Image: John Gollings.

State architecture awards held last week in Victoria, Tasmania and the Northern Territory all agreed on one thing: a focus on community and sustainability is key to quality projects.


Community benefit was the focus of winners of the Victorian awards, according to Victorian chapter president Vanessa Bird, who said it was “’particularly heartening to see architects demonstrating a thinking beyond a specific site to produce benefits for the wider community”.

The Victorian Architecture Medal went to ARM Architecture, claiming a record six medals now, for its Geelong Library & Heritage Centre, which also took out the named awards for Interior Architecture and Public Architecture, as well as the Regional Prize.

The Geelong Library & Heritage Centre. Image: John Gollings

Chair of juries Hamish Lyon said it was “an exemplar public project” for Geelong.

“A striking piece of architecture and major community hub, it has elevated the role of public architecture for both Geelong and the wider regional community,” he said.

“The distinctive spherical form will undoubtedly become a local postcard image while the spectrum of vivid colours throughout the interior will be a talking point for the local community.”

The Allan And Beth Coldicutt Award for Sustainable Architecture went to Six Degrees Architects for the Western Business Accelerator and Centre for Excellence (BACE) in the City of Melton, created as a hub of enterprise, community activity and business development for Melbourne’s West.

The Western Business Accelerator and Centre for Excellence. Image: Alice Hutchison

The jury said the building had an “endless array” of sustainability features that had earned it a 6 Star Green Star – Design & As Built rating.

“The belief that environmental and social sustainability is at the core of community success was shared by the entire team working on this project,” the jury said. “It is this, combined with a high level of care from both Six Degrees Architects and the client, that sets this building apart.

“In every aspect, this project has delivered beyond the client’s expectations and beyond many current standards for environmentally sustainable design. It acknowledges that our relationship with the built environment goes far beyond the basics of health, safety and energy efficiency, and already the activity within BACE indicates a healthy future.”

The Award for Sustainable Architecture went to Croxon Ramsay Architects for the Saltwater Community Centre, designed to service a newly created community, and integrating maternal and child health, a kindergarten and community centre functions.

The Saltwater Community Centre. Image: Dianna Snape

The jury said the building “executed biophilic design with consummate elegance”.

“The building’s connection to the outdoors, gentle flowing form, natural façade patterns, façade processes, and the integration of art, light, space, and simple systems throughout the Centre further the sophisticated sustainable outcome.”


In Tasmania it was again a focus on community, as well as tourism, that was the consistent theme.

“Tasmanian architects have a fantastic record designing award-winning buildings and spaces that benefit our island state’s communities, and this year is no exception,” Tasmanian chapter president Brad Wheeler said.

The Tasmanian Chapter Named Award for Sustainable Architecture went to Five Yards House by Archier, which also picked up the Esmond Dorney Award for Residential Architecture – Houses (New).

Five Yards House. Image: Adam Gibson

“The sustainability logic embedded in this small home never stifles the qualities of each of its spaces, nor its sensitive integration with its garden setting,” the jury citation said. “This is an extremely mature work for a young practice engaged in shifting many of the boundaries of conventional architectural service, particularly those blending design with fabrication and assembly.

“The Structural Insulated Panel System provides high thermal performance with a layout that, when arranged proportionally throughout each of the spaces, sets a hierarchy that accords with family life.”

Northern Territory

Again, community engagement was the major theme running across award winners’ projects, particularly the night’s major winner, Troppo Architects’ Anbinik Kakadu Resort, which took out the Tracy Memorial Award and the Peter Dermoudy Award for Commercial Architecture.

Anbinik Kakadu Resort. Image: David Haigh

“Set in the savannah fringes of Jabiru, on the edge Kakadu National Park, this project is the second stage of an ongoing commercial development by the Djabulukgu Association,” the jury citation read.

“Built on a shoestring, in part using recycled and scavenged materials, its ‘return on investment’ is significant, providing not only a distinctive visitor experience to tourists, but more particularly, sustainable employment opportunities for the Indigenous development team.”

The Sustainable Architecture Award went to the Charles Darwin University Trade Training Centre by MODE.

Charles Darwin University Trade Training Centre. Image: Shaana McNaught

“The Trade Training Centre is at the forefront of local energy saving and green technology in Darwin, implementing a range of strategies including rainwater harvesting, natural daylight and solar collection, cross ventilation and the use of digital and LED lighting,” the jury citation said.

“Rainwater harvesting comprises rainwater collection in an underground tank to be used for irrigating the landscaping that surrounds the building, toilet flushing and other non-potable use.

“The jury was impressed with the energy saving strategies implemented. These include the use of clerestory glazing to allow natural light to penetrate teaching, office and common areas; the substantial bank of photovoltaic cells located on the roof of the building that aims to generate between 25 and 35 per cent of the energy required by the building; cross ventilation via banks of louvres and roller doors to allow natural breezes to pass through the ground floor workshops; industrial scale ceiling fans help to keep non airconditioned spaces cool and the use of digital and LED lighting; all designed to facilitate good practice in energy efficient and sustainable design principles.”

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