The Australia Award for Urban Design and a number of commendations were presented to some of Australia’s recent outstanding urban design achievement at a ceremony at Sydney’s Customs House in October. Leading built environment professionals from across Australia witnessed the major Award of the evening being presented to two Melbourne projects – Places for People (2004) by the City of Melbourne with Gehl Architects, and the Melbourne CBD and Pedestrian Traffic Study, by Coomes Consulting Group for the City of Melbourne.
The 2005 awards marked 10 years since the Australia Award was first established by then Prime Minister Paul Keating’s Urban Design Taskforce. The Award is now hosted by the Planning Institute of Australia, the Royal Australian Institute of Architects and the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects, and supported by Urban Design Forum.
The Award is sponsored by ING Real Estate Development.
The Award was first presented in 1996, to none other than the City of Melbourne, for the Melbourne CBD Revitalisation Project. The quality of Melbourne’s CBD has been more than twenty years in the making. This Award acknowledges the importance of continued and consistent commitment to creating and maintaining the urban public realm. It also reflects the importance of having rigorous research underpin urban design policy and practice.
City building and place making
This award is an encouragement to all Australian cities to learn from and adopt that city’s commitment to the time-honoured craft of city building and place making. It not only recognises the consistency of, persistence in and insistence on excellence in urban design and planning, and in monitoring and evaluating its outcomes, to learn from – but also consciously supports all those across the country who pursue similar aspirations in their own home cities and towns. The City of Melbourne won the first Australia Award for Urban Design in 1996, for the Melbourne CBD Revitalisation Project, an earlier chapter in the same story that continues to be written. It is testament to Melbourne’s commitment to excellence in urban design and an example of how this city continues to be a leader in the field.
Three category awards
Three other outstanding nominations were also acknowledged receiving category awards.
A Strategic Urban Design Award was presented to the NSW Coastal Urban Design Initiative 2002-2005 and beyond. This nomination was rewarded for the initiatives of the brave and caring councils involved in attempting to ensure the attraction and quality of our coastlines are maintained for future generations. The Award incorporated the following projects:
- Coastal Design Guidelines for NSW – former Urban Design Advisory Service for the former Coastal Council of NSW, and former Tourism NSW & Planning NSW
- Narooma Structure Plan – Office of Knowledge Science & Information with former Urban Design Advisory Service, for Eurobodalla Shire Council, DIPNR (South Coast Office)
- Westport Urban Structure & Built Form Study – former Urban Design Advisory Service, with Ruker & Associates Urban Design for Hastings Council
- Snug Cove Masterplan – former Urban Design Advisory Service for Bega Valley Council and DIPNR (South Coast Office).
A Public Domain Award was presented to Syrinx Environmental and the City of Perth for Point Fraser Stage 1. This small piece of elegantly crafted foreshore public domain was recognised as an expression of a wide and deep set of commitments to ecological reconstruction, urban enrichment, and civic engagement, and a part of a larger strategy by the City of Perth.
Finally, a Research and Publication Award was given to Fluid City: Transforming Melbourne’s Urban Waterfront – a book written by Kim Dovey (with Leonie Sandercock, Quentin Stevens, Ian Woodcock and Stephen Wood), from the University of Melbourne, published by UNSW Press. This book documents observations and assessments about a series of projects and developments along Melbourne’s waterfront, and is an encouragement to support active research and documentation of Australian urban development history.
The Australia Award was established to recognise recent urban design projects of high quality in Australia, and to encourage cities, towns and emerging settlements of all sizes to strive similarly for improvement. It acknowledges the role of good urban design in the development and renewal of our cities, towns and places.
Those who attended the ceremony listened to guest speakers Mr John Mant, former convenor of the Urban Design Taskforce, followed by Mr Chris Johnson, current Executive Director of Urban Renewal for the Department of Planning in NSW. Together, these two notable figures in the built environment reflected on the path of urban design in Australia from the establishment of the Australia Award ten years ago, to the role urban design has in the built environment today and into the future.