Northern Rivers Urban Design Awards
The Inaugural Northern Rivers Urban Design Awards were held recently and brought the urban development industry, community leaders and politicians together, for the first time, in a spirit of urgent excitement.
“There is the feeling that the built environment of the Northern Rivers has been neglected” says Ian Oelrichs, Regional Planning Expert and Chair of the Northern Rivers Regional Development Board. “Population projections we are hearing have provided a wake up call. As a region we have put a lot of effort into stopping development and into our natural environment, but we have not, to date, placed any great focus on planning our urban development. Issues such as preserving our village atmospheres, creating town centres that have heart and that work well for the community and business, all of this helps ensure that we maintain our differentiation to South East Queensland”.
A joint project between Northern Rivers Regional Development Board and Mayne Investments, the Northern Rivers Urban Design Awards received entries ranging from town centre redevelopments to multiple occupancy developments to residential developments to art galleries and research projects. “We should be able to produce good urban design”, says Oelrichs, “considering the wealth of creative talent in the Northern Rivers, our strong arts community, our historical character and the availability of local materials such as timbers”.
Australia’s first Green Mayor, Byron Shire’s Jan Barham, is facing the challenge of encouraging developers to come up with proposals that the local community can support. The Shire has a long history of opposing inappropriate development. “The north coast is a beautiful natural environment that deserves to be complimented by sensitive, smart buildings”, she says. “We are ideally positioned to nurture a development industry that is at the forefront of sustainable building practices”.
A big winner in the Design Awards was the Ballina Shire, taking two of the five awards. Mayor Phil Silver has been very active in the town centre’s beautification project. “Good sustainable urban design is critical to the future of the north coast”, he says. “Through activities such as the urban design awards we can encourage not only developers, but all professions involved in the building industry, both government and non-government, to lift their standards and promote excellence in urban design, which will in turn result in stronger and more close knit communities”. Two main prizes and three Merit Awards were given.
For further information about the Northern Rivers Design Awards, contact Caroline Desmond, Public Relations Consultant, on phone (02) 6687 2378 or mobile 0415 499 429.
Award For Design Excellence – Commercial
Rainforest Ridge residential development in East Ballina.
A project by Kovalan Pty Ltd (Project Director Steve Woodfield). Judges’ comments: A single family residential development which achieved a higher density but due to very clever design retains a spacious feeling and an overall texture which fits with the surrounding neighbourhood. There is a good balance of public streets and private security. The rainforest on the site has been preserved and combined with common use facilities to form a central open space.
Award For Design Excellence – Government/Community
Tweed River Art Gallery at Murwillumbah.
A project by Tweed Shire Council and consultants (Architect Bud Brannigan, Builder Multispan Australia and Project Manager Ken Fraser of Quad Consulting). Judges’ comments: A development of exceptional quality, with a design in an Australian style, using corrugated iron and shaded verandas appropriate to the region. The Gallery is beautifully sited to capture magnificent views, and has a very good site plan. The project is more than just a Gallery: it is a community facility, with well-used function rooms and a restaurant. It has a number of sustainable aspects including the use of hoop pines from the property to create design highlights.