The NSW Chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects has announced the winners of the 2018 NSW Student Architecture Awards. The awards recognise the best student work completed in the last year from the four accredited schools of architecture in NSW.  


Beneath the Surface: Taking the Waters in Moree | Andrew Hannah-Davies | The University of Newcastle

Image: AIA

Beneath the Surface: Taking the Waters in Moree by Andrew Hannah-Davies takes us on a social, physical and ethereal journey of healing. It is a bold demolition of the old, cleansing away the negative karma of the past via the acknowledgement of that past, and a poetic reconstruction of the new. It is an imaginative, passionate response in its use of iconography, collective memory, physicality, materiality, form and landscape.  It creates a highly transcendent, experiential narrative through the use of drawings, models, animation and text that communicates the author’s intensity of feeling and conceptual framework. Social injustice and commentary are not the sole generator of the project but so too is a desire to demonstrate how the built environment has the potential to create new relationships, foster community and rejuvenate society spiritually as well as physically.


Between Anchors | Connie He | The University of Sydney

Image: AIA

Between Anchors is a project rich in complexities which are distilled into an architectural proposition of captivating beauty. It has reimagined The Domain as a landscape for discussion, display and performance by celebrating the non-linear and favouring playful discovery. Through rigorous analysis and explorations of threshold, boundary, programme and materiality, a choreographed landscape unfolds to reveal a collection of analytical and interpretive architectural encounters. 

Stumble upon performers and be entertained on warm concrete bleachers in the winter sun. Take to the stage at Threshold 2.6.1F and become a lunchtime comedian. Meander through the Permanent Art Space and be mesmerised by shifting skies rolling over the truncated volumes of the galleries. Careful consideration of siting in conjunction with programmatic and spatial intersections generates a taxonomy of architectural propositions which encapsulate the nuances of site and public experience. The proposal has not been overwhelmed by the open-ended parameters of site; instead Between Anchors introduces a built scale most suitable for the given programme. Its strength lies not in its monumentality but in its ability to entertain and entice patrons through subtlety and the unexpected. 


Bodies/Ground | Miriam Osburn | The University of Sydney

Image: AIA

The jury was greatly impressed by Osburn's intricate approach to the design and to the site. Masterful consideration was given to both the spatial experience of the user as well as the balance between program requirements and impact to the site and broader surroundings. Her understated approach to the design of this public building enthralled the judges, while her communication and presentation of her design and its ideas were very clear and captivating. 


Jazz Garden | Brennan Clody | The University of Sydney

Image: AIA

The Jazz Garden demonstrates an architectural language that is sophisticated and well-researched. Various influences are drawn into the research process, including Jørn Utzon’s Kingo Houses, the structure and counterpoint of Jazz, and the performance potential, both symbolic and actual, of architecture itself. Through various forms of mapping, the research has taken a journey along an abstract narrative that has informed the final outcome and form, without losing sight of the starting point. In the final proposal we can see the ghost of Utzon in the approach to materiality and sensitive treatment of site, the spirit of Jazz in the playful disruption of elements, and the hand of the designer in the well-mannered realisation of the whole.


Jazz Garden | Brennan Clody | The University of Sydney

A complex and layered design process was communicated in a remarkably simple and unpretentious manner that allowed the depth of thought and resolution in the design to shine through. This was a very complete and consistent presentation; from verbal presentation through to sketches, drawings, model and delightful black and white vignettes that captured the poetics of space. The drawings were textured and nuanced, with careful consideration of what to show, and what to leave out. The design process was well-described and was pulled together as a narrative with minimal but relevant text. The verbal presentation in particular was professional and well-rehearsed, showing us the importance of using the ‘performance’ to capture the jury’s attention.


Reh-zophora | Melinda Barbagallo and Francesca Capicchioni | University of Technology Sydney

Image: AIA

Reh-zophora by Melinda Barbagallo and Francesca Capicchioni embraces technological innovation as a means to shift society towards more sustainable futures. Located at the mouth of the Prosperine River adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef, the project targets the problem of eutrophication through the extraction, treatment and repurposing of algae for food and medicine.

 Through a detailed investigation of systems for harvesting and filtering algae, and an interrogation of the aesthetic opportunities of their display, technology and architecture are combined in a performative landscape of mechanical pillars. A complex system of column typologies and variations address the various functional requirements of algae treatment, water catchment and bird habitat, while simultaneously offering diverse experiences for human habitation. The manipulation of the ground plane as a (literally) fluid terrain variously expands and contracts the territory available for occupation by different species throughout the day. The deliberate blurring of technological and natural landscapes is echoed in the overlaying of finely detailed technical drawings with washes of muted colour. This project, skillfully synthesises conceptual and technical ambitions in an articulate and refined architectural proposition.