17 June 2022

ANU refurbishment shines in ACT architecture awards

| Ian Bushnell
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Australian National University's Birch Building

Australian National University’s Birch Building. Photo: Mark Skye.

The Australian National University Birch Building Refurbishment by Hassell has taken out the top ACT architecture prize at this year’s awards.

Hassell won the Australian Institute of Architects ACT chapter’s Canberra Medallion for its thoughtful reinterpretation of the 1968 heritage-listed building. Their work celebrates its past and transforms it into a best-practice building that supports contemporary education and research.

The building was also awarded the J S Murdoch Award for Heritage, the Enrico Taglietti Award for Educational Architecture and the W Hayward Morris Award for Interior Architecture.

The Sir Roy Grounds Award for Enduring Architecture went to Manning Clark House by Robin Boyd.

The 69-year-old building contains many design features which were considered innovative for their time and are now accepted as sound design and sustainable elements for modern houses.

READ MORE Sustainable design advocate takes top architecture prize

Twelve projects vied for the Residential Architecture – Houses (New) category but the Jingston House by Rob Henry Architects came out on top, taking out the Malcolm Moir and Heather Sutherland Award.

The jury noted: “Situated in a cul-de-sac adjacent to a suburban nature reserve, the project’s restrained exterior presents a contextual politeness that counters the strength of the interior.”

Hugh Gordon Architect received a Commendation for McPhee Place House and Thursday Architecture received a commendation for SALO.

Rob Henry Architects also won the Robert Foster Award for Light in Architecture for Blue Sky House in the inner north.

The jury noted that Blue Sky House’s resourceful inversion of a standard roof truss revealed an array of design opportunities that capture and deliver northern light, enhancing a key design move of connecting the dwelling with the south-facing rear garden.

Secret Garden House by CCJ Architects took out the Gene Willsford Award for Residential Architecture – Houses (Alterations and Additions) and the Pamille Berg Award for Art in Architecture.

A modest monocrete house that has been transformed into a delightful and comfortable home charged with a new lease on life, the Secret Garden House is characterised by a vertical garden screening the length of the house that generates from one of the client’s paintings.

De Rome Architects received an award in the Residential Architecture – Houses (Alterations and Additions) for Ziwa House and Cox Architecture received a Commendation for Smitton House.

Jury chair Erin Hinton said the ACT Architecture Awards were an opportunity to reflect on and celebrate the significant and enduring contribution that architects and architectural projects make to our region and our communities.

“Several project themes emerged across the categories such as architecture as a catalyst for bold civic and public engagement, architecture as a mediator between past and future, and architecture as foundational to the values of family, safety and retreat,” she said.

The House with Old Roots by The Mill: Architecture & Design was awarded the Derek Wrigley Award for Sustainable Architecture.

This highly liveable and functional family home achieves high levels of energy efficiency through passive solar design.

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Bates Smart took out the Sir John Overall Award for Urban Design for Constitution Place, the John Andrews Award for Commercial Architecture, and an Award for Interior Architecture.

The jury noted: “Constitution Place is a masterly contribution to the centre of the Griffins’ city beautiful vision for Canberra.”

Cox Architecture received the Sydney Ancher Award for Residential Architecture – Multiple Housing for the Alexander and Albemarle buildings in Phillip.

Their work has delivered a valuable contribution to Canberra’s apartment landscape and a lesson in adaptive reuse, sustainability and high-quality outcomes, the jury said.

Finn Street House by Ben Walker Architects won the Colorbond Award for Steel Architecture.

The jury observed: “Finn Street house extensively demonstrates the versatility and potential of steel in residential architecture, from use as an expressive structure to intricate and highly crafted interior detail elements.”

Ms Hinton said it was encouraging to see the breadth and depth of how architecture was conceived and delivered across the 46 projects entered. She also paid tribute to the projects from emerging architects who represent the future leaders of the profession.

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The EmAGN (Emerging Architects and Graduate Network) Project Award went to the sole practice Owen David Architecture for Scissor House in Curtin.

In this stunning renovation, Owen Abbott has imaginatively reinvented a humble ‘ex-govie’ to make it functionally and stylistically aligned with modern living while maintaining a modest size.

The ACT winners will now progress to compete in the National Architecture Awards program, recognised as the most prestigious and rigorous of its kind.

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