Australian Architecture Awards 2007
Connecting the major elements of the building's program is the "Knowledge Walk," a linear, multilevel interior entry space that is open to the outdoors and accessible around the clock. A varied series of public rooms — including an open terrace, and a room that extends over the adjacent river promenade — promote an expansive view of the role of the institution in the community.
"Culturally and climatically a 'Queenslander,' it promotes contact with information as a sequence of local experiences," said the jury. "[T]hese spaces have a transformative effect... They are spaces with a generous spirit, intended to provide the public with more than a chair in which to read or a desk with a computer."
The Cape Schanck House by Paul Morgan Architects is located on the Mornington Peninsula near Melbourne. Analysis of light and wind patterns on the coastal site led to development of an aerodynamic external skin, with the building sited to preserve remnant stands of native tea tree. Praising it as "an exemplary empathetic development of a pristine coastal site," the RAIA jury gave the home its top national award for houses.
The house's exterior combines two contrasting parts: the bedroom area, clad in a sweeping form of stained plywood, and the living area, clad in shear glass.
A bulb-shaped rainwater collection tank doubles as a primary structural element of the house. The centralized steel tank also cools the house enough in the summer, aided by cross ventilation, to make air conditioning unnecessary. "This splendidly eccentric element provides comfort, character, and good company," said the jury, "while defining the radial point of this articulate and inventive small home."
The Cornwall Apartments in Brisbane were designed to preserve the informal scale and character of a typical suburban street, thus offering a respectful option for increasing housing density. Donovan Hill designed the nine-unit project with a courtyard and an active street presence. The jury honored it with the highest national award for multiunit housing.
In managing budgetary constraints, the architects chose to focus on "architectural experiences" and flexible floor plans while sacrificing some details and finishes, thus creating a certain careful unevenness. For example, large, wood-framed sliding windows liven up the main spaces, with off-the-shelf aluminum windows elsewhere. "The architects have achieved a quality and inventiveness of detailing and space-making which are astonishing in this type of developer-driven project," said the jury.
"The project demonstrates an extraordinary, and surely exhausting, commitment by the architects to the development of everyday housing of the community."
Southern Cross Station connects Melbourne's central business district with the rapidly expanding Docklands district. Designed by a joint venture of Grimshaw Architects and Jackson Architecture, the permeable structure earned the RAIA's top award for urban design.
To knit the surrounding urban fabric while accommodating an annual volume of 15 million passengers, the design team created an open, adaptable transit facility with pedestrian routes passing right through the building. Extensive glass facades form a transparent interface between the station and the adjacent streetscape.
Located on a brownfield site, the station features natural ventilation, daylighting, and rainwater collection from the 3.5-hectare (8.6-acre) roof.
The jury praised the station's "singular and monumental roof" and the "great open public room" that it defines. "The undulating exterior roof terrain reinforces the grand scale of the interior and takes on a visual prominence within the city from various approaches."
In Manchester, United Kingdom, another public building by Australian architects eschews traditional more-solid forms for openness and layered transparency. The Manchester Civil Justice Centre by Denton Corker Marshall received the RAIA's highest award for international architecture.
Courtrooms cantilever from two ends of the 15-story building, creating a dynamic profile and sculptural end elevations. Core functional space is thus visibly extended into the public realm, while still partially veiled by a steel screen.
Individual courtrooms are double-skinned, with an outer layer of clear glass over the interior materials. A glazed multistory atrium forms the building's public domain, punctuated by meeting rooms and waiting areas. The building is naturally ventilated throughout, and received a BREEAM rating of Excellent.
The jury lauded the "bold design" as evidence of the "value of design competitions for major public buildings, in advancing new ways of thinking about traditional building types."
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