The Melbourne Recital Centre, and its neighbor, the first permanent home for the Melbourne Theatre Company, have taken out four of the highest honors at this year’s Victorian Architecture Awards.
Presented by the Australian Institute of Architects, 37 awards and prizes were announced today at a dinner on Friday, July 10 attended by over 800 guests.
The recital centre and MTC buildings by ARM and the urban transformation of their formerly neglected Southbank site are honored with the 2009 Victorian Architecture Medal for successfully crossing design boundaries and taking out the top awards in three categories: the William Wardell Award for public architecture; the Marion Mahony Award for interior architecture and the Joseph Reed Award for urban design.
Chair of juries, Philip Goad, says the combined buildings make a significant contribution to Melbourne’s arts precinct and may well expand current audiences, sentiments echoed in the Victorian Medal jury citation.
“The robust sculptural facades have already become iconic and the changes to traffic and pedestrian patterns at an urban level have transformed the area into an active domain,” praised the jury.
The Canada Hotel Redevelopment by Hayball is a double winner, honored with the Best Overend Award for residential architecture (multiple housing) and the esteemed Melbourne Prize.
This student accommodation project on Swanston Street impressed the jury by “skilfully integrating the existing fabric as the new 13-story tower hovers over the original hotel building”. Those who regurgitate criticism of high density housing are advised by the jury to visit this solution which “greatly enriches its urban precinct”.
The top award for commercial architecture, the Sir Osborn McCutcheon Award, went to NSW firm Durbach Block Architects for Headquarters Sussan Sportsgirl in Richmond. Housing 5000m2 of offices, a private art gallery, corporate dining room, boardrooms and studios, the Headquarters caught the jury’s eye with its exceptional interior detailing and an exterior exuding a “subtle emanation of the creative wealth within through the use of opaque glass paneling”.
Another major winner is the Bendigo Bank Headquarters by BVN Architecture + Gray Puksand P/L, honored with a Commercial Architecture Award and a Regional Prize. Gray Puksand P/L also picked up a Public Architecture Award for the new Epping Views Primary School in Melbourne’s north, and a second Regional Prize was awarded to Hepburn Springs Bath House Redevelopment by Cox Architects & Planners.
Making it two in a row is architectural firm McBride Charles Ryan, winning the Harold Desbrowe-Annear Award for residential architecture with Letterbox House. After taking home the same award last year, their Klein Bottle House went on to win the nation’s highest residential architecture prize.
The Letterbox House is celebrated for its experimental ambitions and the architectural confidence of its resolution, noted the jury.
Winner of the John George Knight Award for Heritage is the Prefabricated (Singapore) Cottage: Conservation + Adaptation by RBA Architects & Conservation Consultants + JAM Architects. Originally imported from Singapore in 1852-3, the restoration and conservation of this modest South Melbourne building is described by the jury as an inspirational example of heritage architecture: “a revelatory intersection between history and the present”.
Siglo, the rooftop drinking hole by b.e. architecture which crowns Con Christopoulos’ Spring Street epicurean empire (European, City Wine Shop, Melbourne Supper Club) was presented with the Small Project Architecture Award. Siglo is described by the jury as quintessentially Melbourne, with an understated sense of glamor.
A commendable example of a commercial building embracing sustainable design within the constraints of a commercial capital budget is The Gauge by Darren Kindrachuk of Lend Lease Design. It is awarded the Sustainable Architecture Award for its all-embracing approach to environmentally sustainable design and construction, through to ongoing maintenance.
Not just a toilet stop is the Calder Woodburn Rest Area by BKK Architects and Vic Roads, taking out the Colorbond Award for Steel Architecture. Celebrating the long and rich history of the service station, the rest area serves as both shelter and icon.
There were 196 entries competing across 11 categories in the 2009 Victorian Architecture Awards, described by Professor Goad as another bumper year.
“The standard and quality of design entries continues to rise ever higher, showing the strong local commitment to the advancement of ideas in this state,” said Professor Goad.
Of the 37 accolades announced, 29 winners of Victorian architecture awards move into national contention to compete against winners from around the country. The National Architecture Awards will be announced in Melbourne in late October.
An exhibition of all Victorian Award entries is on display as part of the State of Design Festival: Guildford Lane Gallery, 20/24 Guildford Lane, Melbourne, Australia, until July 26.