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Australia’s Top Architecture Awards for 2019

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The Australian Institute of Architects 2019 National Architecture Awards showcased projects large and small that demonstrate leading-edge design, excellence in place-making and exceptional execution. Some of the important trends in design and construction included, high-rise engineered timber, building under open space and an emphasis on minimising environmental footprints.

“A number of themes emerged across all categories this year: projects that delivered worthy outcomes with little means; projects that demonstrated the value of architecture through public benefit; and projects with clear commitments to social and environmental sustainability,” said Jury Chair Clare Cousins.

Reaching New Heights With Timber  

Lendlease continued its successful track record. It developed award-winning engineered timber projects with architect Bates Smart and won a Commercial Architecture National Commendation for 25 King Street in Brisbane. 

The commercial office tower joins Library at the Dock and International House at Barangaroo as leading exemplars of the new timber products in large-scale projects. Constructed by DesignMake with engineering by Aurecon, it is currently the tallest timber commercial building with the largest floorplate completed anywhere in the world.

The jury noted that the use of glulam and cross-laminated timber (CLT) as an all-timber structural system has significantly reduced the building’s embodied carbon as compared to conventional construction methods that use concrete and steel.

“This is not a boutique, experimental or demonstration project, but rather a commercially viable alternative to steel and concrete construction in mid-scale office buildings. It is also the first timber commercial building in Brisbane, setting a new precedent for the city,” the jury said.

Sustainable Design

Another project utilising engineered timber, Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Primary School in North Strathfield, NSW, designed by BVN was awarded The Daryl Jackson Award for Educational Architecture and a National Award for Sustainable Architecture.

Built by Stephen Edwards Constructions with fitout construction by Grindley, the project transformed a derelict Telstra exchange building into a dynamic, light-filled primary school for over 400 students.

“The use of a prefabricated cross-laminated timber floor and acoustic ceiling panel components required a commitment from both the architects and the client that is to be commended,” the awards jury said.

A two-stage process was involved in the delivery. In stage one, the building was opened up through the demolition of most of the walls and the replacement of the façade. During the second stage, an additional level was constructed on top of the existing building. A four-storey atrium was added as the main entry connecting all learning areas, and a new hall, arts space, balconies and roof-top playgrounds were added as a prefabricated mass-timber construction.

Unique Spaces

The new Green Square Library and Plaza designed by Studio Hollenstein with Stewart Architecture won the Sir Zelman Cowen Award for Public Architecture. Constructed by John Holland with Arup providing key engineering services, most of the 2,500m2 project is situated below ground. This design created numerous challenges around waterproofing, HVAC, lighting and structural engineering.

Another award-winning project where open space is more obvious than the building is the Parliament of Victoria Member’s Annexe by Peter Elliott Architecture + Urban Design with landscape architects Taylor, Cullity + Lethlean. The project won the David Oppenheim Award for Sustainable Architecture and National Award for Urban Design.

Built by Cockram Constructions, the building features a landscaped green roof across the entire built form footprint, internal courtyard and a geothermal energy exchange and natural light to create a sustainable facility. The jury noted the successful delivery of the project demonstrated the benefits of close collaboration between architects, client and the project’s construction team.

Australian Institute of Architects National President Helen Lochhead said all the winners set the benchmark for high-quality and enduring architecture in Australia.

“These awards not only highlight the quality in our profession, they demonstrate publicly the achievements in design, innovation and sustainability that are possible when clients and architects are enabled to aim for excellence.”

See the full list of winners and jury citations here.

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