Australian Architecture Awards 2007
Sustainable Council House
The City of Melbourne undertook Council House 2 (CH2) to provide a working example of energy-efficient building for the local development market — an important element of the City's goal to achieve net-zero emissions for the municipality by 2020. Designed by City staff and DesignInc, CH2 received a national RAIA award for sustainable architecture.
CH2 exceeds the six-star rating system administered by the Green Building Council of Australia. The building features solar hot-water heating and photovoltaics. With thermal mass to help, CH2 is cooled in the summer by opening windows for four hours each night. "Shower" (cooling) towers produce and store cold water for use in chilled ceilings and beams.
"At times these [sustainable] elements have a certain whimsy," said the jury, citing "the shower towers on the east elevation and the brightly coloured rotating [wind] turbines on the roof."
The jury also recognized the broader value of CH2. "This project extends the educational potential of sustainable building practices to an entire city, and for this strategic decision alone both the client and the architects should be commended."
At the modest end of the size scale is the Park Street House in the Fitzroy North suburb of Melbourne. This 70-square-meter (750-square-foot) home by Robert Simeoni Architects received a national award for small project architecture.
The exterior of the house responds to the scale of its neighbor to the south, then changes as it wraps the building. A double-height glass window screened by full-height curtains provides park views and daylighting on the northern side, where vertical steel cables are hung as trellises.
"In detail the house is particularly 'Australian,'" remarked the jury — "surprisingly direct and focused on the task." The material palette includes concrete, plasterboard, steel, zinc, marble, and wood.
"Internally, the house unfolds as a well-measured sequence of spaces," said the jury, adding that the "inventiveness of these details — double-height curtains, integrated stair barriers, sliding doors, vertically pivoting windows — is anchored in a sober analysis of the problems at hand."
Mamaruni School by Build Up Design stands in tiny Minjilang, a mostly indigenous community of about 200 people on Croker Island, northeast of Darwin. The school earned the Colorbond® Award for Steel Architecture "for its understated, but intelligent and accurate use of steel structure and steel cladding systems," the jury said.
The use of steel allowed prefabrication off site, with connections and fixings designed for ease of erection. The design of the steel work also addresses the need for a cyclone-proof structure. "This steel structure is both 'rough' and highly considered," said the jury.
In this wet-dry tropical climate, operable windows and veranda corridors allow for natural ventilation as an alternative to air conditioning during the dry season. Verandas, a breezeway, and a wet-work area create outdoor teaching spaces as an alternative to the indoor classrooms.
The jury also appreciated the nuances that suit structure to its location. "The steel roof structure creat[es] a series of sun lit spaces through to places of deep shade — specifically designed to suit the dramatic seasonal shifts of the top end.
The RAIA national architecture awards jury for 2007 was chaired by Carey Lyon, and also included Professor Tom Heneghan, head of the University of Sydney Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning; Professor Brit Andresen, University of Queensland Department of Architecture; John Wardle, head of Melbourne-based John Wardle Architects; and Gerard Reinmuth, architecture critic and one of three directors with Terroir, based in Sydney and Hobart.
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