2007 national awards

the winners of the 2007 RAIA national architecture awards have been announced, Victorian winners are (there are too many to lists them all, hence the parochialism):

  • John Curtin School of Medical Research – Stage 1 Redevelopment (ANU, Canberra, ACT): Lyons
  • Cape Schanck House (Mornington Peninsular, VIC): Paul Morgan Architects
  • Yve Apartments (St.Kilda, Melbourne, VIC): Wood Marsh Architecture
  • Southern Cross Station (Spencer Street, Melbourne, VIC): Grimshaw Jackson JV
  • Manchester Civil Justice Centre (Manchester, England): Denton Corker Marshall
  • SOHO Shangdu (Beijing, China): LAB architecture studio
  • Eureka Tower (Melbourne, VIC): Fender Katsalidis (Aust) Pty Ltd
  • 1010 LaTrobe Street (Docklands, Melbourne, VIC): ARM
  • Great Smith Aussie Home (Blackrock, Melbourne, VIC): Cassandra Complex
  • Council House 2 (CH2) (Melbourne CBD, VIC): City of Melbourne + DesignInc Melbourne
  • Stage One ACE, Kangan Batman TAFE (Docklands, Melbourne, VIC): Lyons
  • Park Street House (Fitzroy North, Melbourne, VIC): Robert Simeoni Pty Ltd Architects

a few surprises there. something i find really interesting was in The Age article about the awards: “The cautionary tale of 2007, the jury said, was that the economic boom created a strong market for ideas, and yet perversely also meant quality sometimes suffered in the drive for higher profits.”

this is something i’ve heard from a few people. basically it seems that thanks to a fat, fast economy, there is a push to get things finished really quickly so that the developers can move onto the next project. which is fair enough, but when the buildings aren’t finished properly it’s pretty stupid. it seems that this also stems from the fact that architects are no longer in control of the project, that’s left to project managers at the developer’s end.

i can’t help but wonder if it will come back to bite them on the backside when poorly finished buildings start to show wear very badly, very soon.

but enough of that, congrats to the winners.


4 Responses to 2007 national awards

  1. kirk333 says:

    Yes, congrats to the winners – in SOME (not all) cases the PR people for architecture firms.
    Style over substance.
    Who cares if it lasts? Who wants last season anyway?
    Environment? A building that should last more than 50 years? 100 years?
    What is that? Emperor’s should not wear clothes anyway!
    Political jargon me thinks.

  2. ari says:


    though you raise an interesting point: should buildings be built to last 50-100 years? because not only does design change, but the way a building will be used changes. perhaps building should be designed to be impermanent. i once advised someone to use one particular material over another because it would last longer, 50 – 100 years rather than 20 or less. they made the point that they wouldn’t be living in the building in 20 years, and possibly wouldn’t even be alive, so why should they spend more money on something they wouldn’t use? i was kind of stuck for an answer to be honest, because good materials don’t necessarily translate into higher sale prices when it comes time to move, especially if they’re invisible.

    the real argument against buildings that only last 25 years or so is that it takes about the same amount of embodied energy to produce them as to produce a building that will last 100 years. but how do you spread the cost construction over 100 years?

  3. kirk333 says:

    I don’t think it can be justified in terms of money – it is more an ethical (yes, read dogmatic) approach. We can get wound up in looking at the impact of materials we specify (and David Suzuki has some excellent things to say about this) – and there are people out there who love getting into that stuff. Unfortunatley I don’t have the personality to develop such a fundamentalist streak – however – buildings tend to outlast us (unless you live next door to someone who enjoys the odd game of tennis and have $6 million bucks to burn), and they tend to outlast our clients.
    My personal manifesto (or as close as a lazy person can get to that) is that buildings should be maintenance free (as possible) and should last at least 50 years and I try and specify materials and details accordingly. The doesn’t mean we need to dumb down or bore people to death with design (although there are lots of people doing that already who are fashion tragics- but that is another story for another day)

  4. ari says:

    50 years is a fairly reasonable term for a building’s fabric to last before needing anything beyond routine maintenance done to it, but it’s hard to say to people that they should spend more on something that can’t be seen, especially if they’re not going to be there in 50 years.

    well, not so much hard to say as hard to be listened to!

    but it takes about the same amount of energy to produce a flimsier product as it does to produce a more durable product. so over a buildings lifetime, the embodied energy taken to build it will be the same in absolute terms but less in proportion to the amount of time the building is standing if it is built well in the first place. which is about the only way you can argue it with a domestic scale build, but i’d imagine it is a bit harder with a developer who isn’t even building something for the person who is going to use the building in the end anyway.

    i like bernard tschumi’s idea that you can’t really get an idea of what a building is like, how well it was designed, until you’ve looked at it at at least five years after it was finished. something can look all shiny and new when it is built, but look like rubbish five years down the track if it was designed badly and made from rubbish. actually, i’m not sure if it was five years exactly, but its been about that long since i read “architecture and disjunction” which that idea is from.

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