The Australia Award for Urban Design is Australia’s premier award for urban design achievement. Winners were announced and presented at a dinner at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra at the end of June. In her introduction, Kirsty Kelly, CEO of the award host Planning Institute of Australia, said, ’This is a very significant year for Urban Design in Australia. The adoption of Creating Places For People – An Urban Design Protocol For Australian Cities, brings together Australian Federal Government, the States and Territories, Local Government, peak industry bodies and community organisations in a collective agreement on the importance of Urban Design and provides a framework for improving our urban environments. It highlights just how central the issue of good urban design is to the future liveability, sustainability, wealth and prosperity of our nation’.
The Award is hosted by PIA, and supported by the Australian Institute of Architects, the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects, Consult Australia, Green Building Council of Australia, Property Council of Australia and the Urban Design Forum. Entries are assessed against agreed criteria by a jury made up of experienced practitioners from the supporting organisations.
This year the judging panel was challenged by the diversity of entries covering a range of urban places, urban design programs, policies and new initiatives. The entries included bold inner city corporate projects that showed strong leadership in corporate responsibility through to remote community town centre enhancement plans seeking to make stronger communities in our resources sector. All entries showed a fundamental concern for the wellbeing of people and a desire to contribute to our nation-building through the creation of more inclusive, successful and engaging cities, towns and places. The awards and citations are as follows.
Darling Quarter The Darling Quarter project by Lend Lease, Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, fjmt, Aspect Studios, Arup, and Hyder Consulting, was the winner in the Delivered Outcomes Large Scale category The Darling Quarter precinct is a 1.5 hectare site beside Sydney’s CBD and Darling Harbour South. The redevelopment of this area has created a vibrant and dynamic mix of commercial and public space that includes grassed community areas, a children’s theatre, a retail terrace beside Commonwealth Bank Place, and a 4,000m² illuminated water playground. The innovative design of this precinct allows for more activated public domain, with better connections of the areas and creates a place that can be shared by a wide range of city users. The sustainability features and eye catching architecture give this project both an iconic presence and enduring integrity and, as a place, it not only is a success in itself but significantly contributes to the urban environment it is sited in. As such it brepresents the aspirations of good urban design.
River Quay, Brisbane The River Quay, Brisbane project, by Arkhefield and Cardno SPLAT, was the winner in the Delivered Outcome Small Scale category. As a conversion of one of the last key riverfront sites near the Brisbane CBD, the project has done well to respond to a wide range of considerations such as sustainability, natural heritage, maritime history and setting in an informal and appealing project. The project blends the iconic character of the Goodwill Bridge and the landscape through simple bold emblematic forms that are urban and contemporary, but also reflective of local tradition. The result is an elegantly delivered exposé of best practice in urban waterfront enhancement. From the gentle bowl of the river side park with its carefully considered urban and river walks and edges, to the arrangement of restaurants and buildings to create intimate meeting and gathering spaces, to the elevated decks looking through the riverine trees, and to the recycling of the old wharf as a look out, the project expresses care for the place as part of our history and as a part of our future.
The Future of Penrith, Penrith of the Future The The Future Of Penrith, Penrith Of The Future Project, by Campement Urbain (Sylvie Blocher, Francois Daune, and Tim Williams), was the winner in the Policies, Programs and Concepts Large Scale category. This vision for the Regional Centre of Penrith has been created by valuing the issues, observation and ideas of local inhabitants. It has resulted in a concept that embraces urban design fundamentals such as accessible public space, recreational precincts, densification, pedestrianisation, sustainably and connectivity. The Future of Penrith is also an inspirational vision. While it is utopian in its idealistic imagery, the concept sets out to meet every challenge with fresh imagination, re-connecting Penrith to the river, proposing environmental initiatives that might be supported by the private market and identifying economic opportunities.
Parramatta River Urban Design Strategy The Parramatta River Urban Design Strategy by McGregor Coxall and Equatica was the winner in the Policies, Programs and Concepts Small Scale category. The Parramatta Council commissioned strategy has resulted in an advanced concept that carefully blends management of peak river flow and the desire for river front green space with a strong activated urban edge. Beyond the concept, the strategy takes a dynamic leap forward by introducing a broad mix of land uses that directly relate to the river, opening up new lifestyle and economic opportunities. The vision of the open space network, public spaces and future development, demonstrates the potential for the City to reclaim its relationship with the river while being environmentally responsive and assisting in resilience for future generations. The project is a highly competent demonstration that well considered urbanism can contribute to the environmental assets of our cities and encourage us to revalue them.
Taronga Zoo The Taronga Zoo project, by BVN, was awarded a Commendation in the Delivered Outcomes Large Scale category. This project has redressed the balance between parking needs and the experience of arriving at and engaging with one of the world’s great Zoos. The sweeping away of the forecourt parking into a simple multi level parking station tucking against the hillside opens up the view to the historic grand entry building and provides a large new plaza. The way the new entry, shops and spaces have been grouped as a cluster of buildings with hillside-village-like gathering spaces overlooking a landscape play area creates a very special place combining urbanism and the environment with inspiring simplicity, demonstrating our best hopes for the future of Australia’s cities.
Next Generation Planning Handbook The Next Generation Planning Handbook by Deicke Richards and Buckley Vann Town Planning Consultants, Council of Mayors (SEQ) and Queensland Government (Growth Management Queensland) was awarded a commendation in the Policies, Programs and Concepts Large Scale category. The Queensland-focused handbook documents a wealth of learning from successful traditional places and neighbourhoods as well as best practice urban projects. In doing so it assists to create contemporary urban environments that are successful and engaging. The simple, concise and informative handbook provides a guide to and broadens the reach of those professions who are concerned with our communities as places for all, and helps expedite decision making. The handbook also puts urban design in the hands of the community demystifying it and enabling ordinary people to ask questions about what is being delivered and whether it meets the benchmarks for good urban design. It will enable them to become positively vocal in overcoming misaligned regulations and supportive of well considered place making.The Handbook represents a wonderful combination of visionary intent and pragmatic research. It is well positioned to help improve the cities and towns of future generations.