The Commons by Breathe Architecture. Image: Urban Angles

23 June 2014 — The Australian Institute of Architects annual state awards for Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania were announced on Friday, with those winning the top sustainability gongs going on to claim multiple awards.

Victorian awards

In Victoria, Breathe Architecture’s The Commons took out the Allan and Beth Coldicutt Award for Sustainable Architecture, as well as the Best Overend Award for Residential Architecture – Multiple Housing.

“The Commons is a project that goes beyond audacious,” the jury citation stated. “The brainchild of an architect determined to shove the multi-residential status quo sideways, the project is born out of the desire to create a utopia wedged between train tracks and a panel beaters shop in a part of town not drowning in green.

“It takes ‘dog with a bone’ determination to dream up a crazy idea like this and then see it through to completion. And there’s more; in true Australian ‘put your money where your mouth is’ tradition, the architect is living the dream on a first floor, north facing apartment. It and the other 23 apartments will soon be dripping in green as the tensioned chains tease a selection of climbing plants.

The Commons by Breathe Architecture. Image: Andrew Wuttke

“The interiors are subdued, ‘matter of fact’ and homely. Neighbouring apartments look on with envy as the Common’s crew enjoy rooftop theatre amongst their herb and veggie gardens. The adjacent bike path rockets you southward into the city. Don’t bother bringing your car to The Commons because this is a ‘one shared car for all’ kind of place.

“The communal laundry is all about sharing too, and the great rooftop views back to the city make this a wash house with a difference. Energy, passion and enthusiasm have driven the spirit of this shared home for people looking to give something back to the community. By design, The Commons turns an unloved part of Brunswick into a living, breathing embodiment of the beauty of sustainable architecture.”

fjmt’s Melton Library and Learning Hub. Image: Trevor Mein

The Sustainable Architecture Award went to Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp (fjmt) for the Melton Library and Learning Hub.

“The jury was impressed by the paradigm shift shown by [Melton City Council] in their aim to provide for the community an example of the calibre of building and level of sustainability they envisage for the future building stock within their shire,” the citation stated.

“In response, the design team has demonstrated a true triple-bottom-line approach to the development of the building, going far beyond simply ticking boxes to achieve certain sustainability ratings.

“Examples include sourcing local labour and materials (the nearest Forest Stewardship Council timber resources, despite additional cost) and developing the first Victorian application of structural e-crete.

fjmt’s Melton Library and Learning Hub. Image: Trevor Mein

“In terms of social sustainability, an active social and educational sustainability program is run within the library itself. Furthermore, the library demonstrates a very impressive and detailed level of ESD initiatives focussed on passive ventilation and exemplary air quality (very important in a well used public space); maximisation of daylighting, passive solar design and an 80 square metre photovoltaic array; water recycling and rainwater harvesting. These investments have already begun paying social and financial dividends to the client and ultimately to the wider community.”

Queensland awards

The UQ Advanced Engineering Building by Richard Kirk Architect and HASSELL. Image: Peter Bennetts

In Queensland, the Harry Marks Award for Sustainable Architecture went to the University of Queensland’s Advanced Engineering Building by a joint venture between Richard Kirk Architect and HASSELL.

The building was the big winner of the night, taking out an additional two Named Awards – the FDG Stanley Award for Public Architecture and the GHM Addison Award for Interior Architecture.

The jury described the collaborative effort as a “significant benchmark in sustainability within a complex building program of research, teaching and learning”.

“AEB expertly embraces setting and place and has created an exemplar of engagement with renewable resources and local industry,” the jury citation stated.

“The project provides teaching, research and laboratory facilities either side of a five-storey timber clad, elongated central atrium with a double glazed roof. The axis terminates in an expressive timber trussed off form concrete lecture theatre back dropped by the lake setting. Thoroughly considered and exquisitely detailed.”

The Sustainable Architecture Award went to William McCormack Place 2 in Far North Queensland by CA Architects and Cox Rayner Architects.

William McCormack Place 2 by CA Architects and Cox Rayner Architects. Image: Christopher F Jones.

“This is a well-considered response to a brief for flexible, sustainable office space in the Tropics,” the jury citation cited. “A move to combine the large open foyer with a meeting hub creates efficiency and invites the public into its cool depth. Passive Design couples with efficient, active energy and cooling systems to provide comfortable pleasant working environments.”

Tasmanian awards

UTAS Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies by John Wardle Architects + Terroir was Tasmania’s big winner, taking home the Sustainable Architecture Award, two Named Awards – the Alexander North Award for Interior Architecture and the Alan C Walker Award for Public Architecture – as well as the Colorbond Award for Steel Architecture and the Urban Design Award.

UTAS Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies by John Wardle Architects + Terroir

“The Australian Institute of Architects’ Sustainability Policy tasks architects with reducing energy demand and increasing energy efficiencies – outcomes that IMAS clearly achieves,” the jury citation stated.

“At the core of this achievement is the configuration of the building to mediate climatic conditions and the use of closed-loop heat exchange, using water from the adjacent river to warm and cool the building.

“With IMAS, the architects have demonstrated a state-of-the-art application of sound building operation. Importantly, by locating within the prominent civic space of Sullivans Cove and strongly addressing this urban context, IMAS demonstrates how care for placemaking contributes to a sustainable future.

“IMAS is an exemplar of careful and skilful placemaking through respect for the setting and history of a place and an across the board win for Hobart.

“Locating IMAS in Sullivans Cove resonates powerfully with the city’s historic Antarctic connections, while its detail thoughtfully evokes the patterning of the Antarctic wilderness.”

Projects that received a named award or an architecture award now progress to the 2014 National Architecture Awards to be announced in Darwin on 6 November.