Silvia Cupik, senior associate at Woods Bagot, is a judge for this year’s Sustainability Awards.

You can nominate for the awards here:

Cupik has 12 years of experience delivering major projects in London, Germany and Australia. Prior to joining Woods Bagot, she led the teams delivering the City Square in Perth, City Central in Adelaide and the Evolution Tower in Moscow.

Architecture and Design spoke to her about what she’s looking for in the awards, Russia’s approach to sustainability and why sustainability is important.

Why is entering award programs important?

The main reason that entering award programs is so important is because it is imperative to promote good architecture, the work that a team has created and promote a company’s brand. It is equally important for the public to understand the various forms of architecture and to get involved in the design process and thought aspirations behind this.

What are you looking for in entries?

When I am looking at an individual entry there are a number of different areas that I consider. This includes whether the project is innovative or cutting edge and whether the design team has deployed any new models, or ways of designing, to make the project unique and exemplar in its own way.

What is a favourite project of yours that has won an award, either your own or another firm’s?

It has to be the SAHMRI project. Woods Bagot worked with the South Australian Government to design the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI). The institute’s nine research modules house up to 700 researchers that foster innovation and improvements in health services, leading to improved health outcomes for the whole community. The project has continued to receive state, national and international acclaim and has won numerous awards including the SA Architecture Award in 2014 and more recently it won the R&D Laboratory of the Year award.

You have previously worked in Russia. How would you describe Russia’s approach to architecture?

When I worked in Russia I was involved in the design of very large-scale commercial architecture. This was what companies were chasing at the time; big bold statements of architecture. At the Evolution Tower in Moscow we had an artist work with us to create sophisticated and unique forms for the building. 

How would you describe Russia’s approach to sustainable architecture?

In recent years sustainability has become more prevalent in Russia, and the Russian Sustainable Architecture and Building Council was established in 2011.

Sustainability is often considered as an additional ‘cost’ factor, despite these misconceptions it is not, especially when you are talking about smart design. On the Gazprom tower in St Petersburg we were able to make sustainability a key component of the design because it was integral for the building from a technical point of view, functional point of view and workplace point of view.

Why is sustainability important to you?

Sustainability should be important to everyone and something that is thought about throughout the entire design process. We all have a responsibility. Technology has developed greatly in all aspects of life, however buildings often fall behind.

We need to continue to drive the “smart creative” design in buildings in relation to technology, but on the flip side we need to reflect back on traditional building methods that were deployed and see how we can bring these into the present and future.

You came to Australia in 2008. Were there any buildings or structures that stood out to you when you first got here?

The first one that springs to mind would have to be the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Having already spent a year in Northern England in Newcastle there is almost an identical copy of this bridge that has been designed by the same engineer. What fascinates me about this beautiful steel structure is its shape and the visionary approach that was taken for the design. It was fit-for-purpose in regards to the volume of people that now use the bridge to commute to and from work each day and it was really designed as a future proof structure.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of being an architect?

To me one of the most rewarding aspects of being an architect is the ability to create spaces that people not only use, but becomes a part of their life and their community.