Fremantle Esplanade Youth Plaza

15 July 2014 – Projects in Fremantle, Canberra and Sydney were recognised for excellence, winning the top awards at the Planning Institute of Australia’s Planning Australia Award for Urban Design held at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra last night (Monday).

Two awards were given in the Delivered Outcome Large Scale category – NewActon Precinct in the ACT, developed and delivered by Molongo Group with design by Fender Katsalidis and Oculus; and Sydney’s Prince Alfred Park and Pool, designed by Neeson Murcutt Architects, Sue Barnsley Design and City of Sydney.


New Acton is a mixed use precinct on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin, and includes the uber-sustainable Nishi residential development, the avant-garde ApARTments, cafes, landscaping, galleries, retail, public art works and two refurbished heritage buildings.

The Prince Alfred Park and Pool also incorporates a heritage element, the pool itself, which was refurbished as part of a wider redevelopment of the site which incorporated a high level of sustainability measures and innovative landscaping elements such as folding the ground of the park over the roof of the pool’s changing rooms.

  • Read our case study on the Prince Alfred Park and Pool.

In the Delivered Outcome Small Scale category, the award went to Fremantle Esplanade Youth Plaza, designed and delivered by Convic and the City of Fremantle in Western Australia.  The plaza, which was officially opened in April 2014, brings together public performance and gathering space, hard and soft landscaping, WA’s first outdoor parkour park, a family ping pong area, and areas for wheeled sports including skateboarding, BMX riding and scooter riding.  A promenade also passes through the plaza that connects an adjoining car park to a railway pedestrian crossing.

Pilbara Vernacular Handbook

Big picture top end projects were also lauded, with The Pilbara Vernacular Handbook by CODA Studio and LandCorp  and the Darwin City Master Plan by City of Darwin, the Northern Territory Government and Design Urban Pty Ltd both recognised with a Commendation in the Policies, Programs and Concepts Large Scale category.

In the small scale Policies, Programs and Concepts category, the award went to The Goods Line, ASPECT Studios with CHROFI for the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority. Two projects were given Commendations in the same category, Thinking outside “the box”: Key design elements for apartments in Ku-ring-gai, Ku-ring-gai Council Strategy and Environment Department (NSW), and King’s Square Urban Design Strategy, CODA Studio, City of Fremantle, Creating Communities Australia (WA).

The Goods Line

A new award was also given for Sustained Contribution to Urban Design. This went to Bruce Echberg, Bill Chandler, John Byrne for their book, Urban Voices – celebrating urban design in Australia, a collection of writings from 53 different authors that reflect on urban design in Australia over the past 25 years in the context of addressing the challenges of the next 25 years.

PIA President Dyan Currie said it was fitting that the new award went to a book that recognises 25 years of the Urban Design Forum, one of the AAUD’s host organisations.

“These three gentlemen are legends of the planning and urban design professions, and their work on Urban Voices is a testament to their life-long commitment to promoting the importance of good urban design,” Ms Currie said.

“The book is a gift to the current and future ranks of urban designers and planners, who will be able to look back at Australia’s fascinating history of urban design and learn from the things we’ve done well, and those we’re not done so well.”

Ms Currie said the awards program overall served to reinforce the power of urban design to solve and prevent some of the challenges emerging among urban environments around the world.

“Having just returned from overseas, I have seen first-hand that many of challenges facing Australia as our population flocks to the cities are confronting urban designers and planners the world over.

“But it was heartening to see that innovative approaches to urban design have succeeded in tackling these challenges throughout the cities I visited, and tonight demonstrates that urban innovation in Australia is alive and well.”

The Australia Award for Urban Design was first presented in 1996 after being proposed by the Urban Design Task Force under former Prime Minister Paul Keating.

The award is hosted each year by the Planning Institute of Australia and supported by the Australian Institute of Architects, the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects, Consult Australia, Green Building Council of Australia, Property Council of Australia and the Urban Design Forum.

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