HASSELL’s Global Change Institute took out the David Oppenheim award for sustainable architecture. Image: Peter Bennetts

Sustainability was a key theme that distinguished winning projects across all categories at last weeks National Architecture Awards, according to jury chair and former Australian Institute of Architects president David Karotkin.

Among the trends the jury saw as they toured finalist projects was a “proliferation” of materials choices that suggested an “increased interest in the intrinsic qualities of the materials”, such as sustainably sourced spotted gum, with durability, maintenance minimisation, longevity, patina and sustainability are all factored into materials decision making.

The jury also saw “a strong interest in adaptation and adaptability, once again signalling an awareness of the importance of looking at the long term for our buildings as a key strategy for creating a sustainable built environment.”

Mr Karotkin said inventiveness on the part of architects delivering their own projects demonstrated the benefits of embracing risk as a “necessary ingredient to achieving genuine design innovation”.

“It was particularly encouraging to see many examples of projects where boundaries between private and public realms are broken down in order to better contribute to their urban and suburban contexts and to create opportunities for enhanced community engagement,” Mr Karotkin said.

“This generosity in design is led by the architects and embraced by their clients and results in stronger communities and improved urban activation. This approach was seen in projects ranging from residential alterations and additions through to hospitals and sporting arenas.”

Many of the major winning projects were showcases in sustainable design, such as JPW’s 6 Star Green Star 50 Martin Place, which won the Harry Seidler Award for commercial architecture.

50 Martin Place. Image: Peter Bennetts

The jury said the project was an exemplar of how collaborative teams could push the boundaries of commercially driven architecture and inspire those who reside and work within it.

“The result is a masterful example of the best in sensitive and intelligent building addition, sophisticated engineering for aesthetics and sustainability, clever adaptive re-use and restoration, innovative workplace design and, most importantly, how to create a relevant legacy to complement great commercial architecture of the past,” the jury said.

GPT Group’s Wollongong Central by HDR Rice Daubney also won a National Award in the Commercial Architecture category. The jury said the project “redefines the role of a shopping centre as an important city node and as having a responsibility beyond its property boundaries”.

“An exemplary retail precinct has been created that connects outwards rather than solely focusing inwards. It makes a significant contribution to revitalising the City of Wollongong on multiple levels. It strengthens pedestrian urban connections and sets up a visual dialogue with this regional city.”

They also noted that the centre’s new tenancies have succeeded to the point where leasing demand exceeds supply.

In the Sustainable Architecture category, HASSELL’s Global Change Institute took out the David Oppenheim award. The 6 Star Green Star project was also designed to meet the requirements for certification under the Living Building’s Challenge, which include being net zero for energy and water.

National Awards in the Sustainable Architecture category also went to Bethanga House in Victoria by tUG workshop, and the 6 Star Green Star Library at The Dock by Clare Design + Hayball (Architect of Record).

Bethanga House. Image: Trevor Mein Photo

Another Living Building Challenge participant, The Sustainable Buildings Research Centre at the University of Wollongong by COX Richardson, and also Cameraygal [formerly the Dunbar Building] by the NSW Government Architects Office were both recognised with National Commendations.

In the Urban Design category, the uber-green NewActon Precinct by Fender Katsalidis in the ACT took out the Walter Burley Griffin Award, and the Monash University North West Precinct by Jackson Clements Burrows Architects in collaboration with MGS Architects (masterplan) won the National Award.

The NewActon Precinct. Image: John Gollings

The Daryl Jackson Award for Educational Architecture was won by the Melbourne School of Design at The University of Melbourne by John Wardle Architects & NADAAA in collaboration.

Melbourne School of Design at The University of Melbourne. Image: John Gollings

The jury said the spectacular central atrium, with its finely detailed suspended timber-clad studios, provided excellent visual and physical interconnection between students and staff.

“The building explains its operation through architecture. It reveals layers of construction as tools to teach. The exposure of building systems, jointing techniques and operable elements like windows and partitions is a lesson in itself,” the jury said.

The National Award was won by the UTS Science Faculty, Building 7 by Durbach Block Jaggers Architects & BVN.

In the Public Architecture category, the Shrine of Remembrance – Galleries of Remembrance by ARM Architecture was recognised with the Sir Zelman Cowen Award.

The Shrine of Remembrance – Galleries of Remembrance. Image: John Gollings

The National Award was won by the Adelaide Oval Redevelopment by Cox Architecture, Walter Brooke and Hames Sharley.

#thebarnTAS. Image: Matt Sansom

The Nicholas Murcutt Award for Small Project Architecture was won by #thebarnTAS by Work by Liz and Alex. The adaptive reuse and restoration project also won a National Award in the Heritage category.

The jury said the conversion of a historic barn to a studio apartment was “a brilliant solution to the problem of how to resurrect a tiny service structure that might easily have been left to decay”.

“The historic structure has been lovingly retained – even its original shingles have been scrupulously cleaned and now form a ceiling to the upper mezzanine bedroom. This is an excellent example of how the limits and challenges of heritage and conservation can encourage inventive solutions. Regulatory, technical and structural requirements have not been seen as impediments but rather as creative possibilities.”

Other winners

  • Interior Architecture: Emil Sodersten Award – Bankstown Library and Knowledge Centre by Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp (NSW); and the National Award – The University of Queensland Global Change Institute by HASSELL.
  • Residential Architecture: Multiple Housing – Frederick Romberg Award – Upper House by Jackson Clements Burrows Architects (Vic). The project’s sustainability credentials include zero parking provision for 110 apartments, and no mechanical ventilation for common areas. The National Award was won by Studios 54 by Hill Thalis Architecture + Urban Projects (NSW).
  • Enduring Architecture: National Enduring Architecture Award – Council House by Howlett & Bailey Architects in Perth.
  • Heritage: Lachlan Macquarie Award – Irving Street Brewery by Tzannes Associates (NSW); National Awards – The Abbey, Johnston Street, Annandale by Design 5; Coriyule by Bryce Raworth & Trethowan Architecture; #thebarnTAS by workbylizandalex.
  • International Architecture: Jørn Utzon Award – Pico Branch Library by Koning Eizenberg Architecture Inc. (United States); Australian Award – Aman, Tokyo by Kerry Hill Architects (Japan); Australian Award – Gloucestershire Garden Room by robert grace architecture (United Kingdom).
  • Residential Architecture: Houses (Alterations and Additions): Eleanor Cullis-Hill Award – Tower House by Andrew Maynard Architects; National Awards – Local House by MAKE Architecture; Orama by Smart Design Studio (NSW)
  • Residential Architecture – Houses (New): Robin Boyd Award – Planchonella House by Jesse Bennett Architect Builder (Qld); National Awards Light House by Peter Stutchbury Architecture; Sawmill House by Archier; Villa Marittima, St Andrews Beach by Robin Williams Architect; Balmoral House by Clinton Murray + Polly Harbison (NSW).
  • COLORBOND Award for Steel Architecture: Adelaide Oval Redevelopment by Cox Architecture, Walter Brooke and Hames Sharley (SA).