New and renovated homes, a community-based medical centre and an innovatively designed pool awning were some of the big winners at the prestigious Australian Institute of Architects’ NSW Country Division Awards 2016, which honoured seven projects showcasing the best in architectural practice and design. The award winners were announced at the NSW Country Division’s Annual Conference on 29 September 2016.

Spanning public and commercial, residential, heritage and small projects categories, the award winning entries are testament to the benefits that outstanding architectural design can deliver to local communities. Commendations were also conferred on three projects by the jury while the People’s Choice Award was tied between Phoenix House by Chris Jenkins Design and Surf Coast House by Ian Sercombe Architect.

Notable winners on awards night included the Gull House in Byron Shire by Harley Graham Architects, which took out the hotly contested Residential Architecture – Houses (New) award. The Dorrigo Health and Wellbeing Medical Centre won the Public and Commercial Architecture category as well as the Termimesh award for its highly sensitive and successful use of timber. Surf Coast House by Ian Sercombe Architect on the NSW mid north coast won the Residential Architecture – Houses (Alterations & Additions) award.

Congratulating the award winners, NSW Chapter President Shaun Carter commented on the rising understanding and appreciation among people of the benefits of great design in country areas. He observed that communities in country areas have greater access to good architects and good architecture than ever before, thanks to technological innovation and infrastructure improvements.

He added that the winning projects demonstrate how architects working in regional areas can craft a design that responds sensitively to the site and delivers a high degree of local environmental amenity.

NSW Country Division Awards 2016: Full list of winning projects

People’s Choice

Winners (tied): Phoenix House by Chris Jenkins Design and Surf Coast House by Ian Sercombe Architect
SurfCoastHouse_IanSercombeArchitect_Photo-ClaudiaGabrielLim_02.jpgPhotography by Claudia Gabriel Lim


Winner: Mayne Street by Cameron Anderson Architects
MayneStreet_CAARCH_Photo-AmberHooper_01.jpgPhotography by Amber Hooper 

Jury citation: ‘The Mayne Street project demonstrates a thoughtful approach to the inclusion of additional new living spaces within the context of two separate heritage buildings, with consideration of the links between the interstitial spaces. The work is well scaled to the neighbouring heritage buildings and is an appreciated form in the public domain and private sphere alike. The elevations are well composed to reflect the existing buildings while adopting a modern approach to the openings, to provide abundant light and ventilation and the framing of views. Within the context of the sensitive heritage town of Gulgong, the clients and architect must be commended for their faith in this unapologetic modern approach, which truly reflects the intent of the Burra Charter.’

Public and Commercial Architecture

Winner: Dorrigo Health and Wellbeing Medical Centre – Dorrigo by Regional Architects Pty Ltd
DorrigoHealthandWellbeingMedicalCentre_RegionalArchitects_Photo-SinclairBlack_01.jpgPhotography by Sinclair Black 

Jury citation: ‘The Dorrigo Medical Centre project successfully executes a holistic approach to the delivery of the design and construction of a building which reflects the philosophy of this community based medical centre. It adopted elements which contribute to the health and wellbeing of all its users, patients and practitioners alike. The selection of timber for many elements including structural, interior lining and framing of external secondary structures highly appropriate to their application is integral to the success of the project. This innovative and well thought out building would be key to attracting medical practitioners to work in this regional area, by providing positive workplace environments which help to offset the services imbalance between metropolitan and regional areas.’

Commendation: Town Beach Public Amenities by Chris Jenkins Design

Jury citation: ‘Recasting this simple public facility as an iconic and site-appropriate meeting place for the residents of Port Macquarie, the response to location and a stringent budget extend on the client’s brief creating a building which will prove an aesthetic and functional investment for years to come. The conceptual relationship to the ocean and surrounding buildings are suitably subtle, providing a timeless building that will engage the broader public without challenging them. The intelligent use of finishes and materials to suit the climate goes further ensuring that the modest budget was well spent.’

Residential Architecture – Affordable Housing (under $350,000)

Winner: Wingello House by Ian Sercombe Architect
WingelloHouse_IanSercombeArchitect_RowanConroyPhotos_01.jpgPhotography by Rowan Conroy

Jury citation: ‘In a semi-rural setting, this sensitive design for a family home demonstrates how much can be achieved while designing with a tight budget. A strong connection to place, thoughtful material choices and efficient yet generous planning. Earthen walls support an archetypical shed roof, anchoring the building to site and giving it a sense of belonging and connection with the ground. They provide thermal mass and impart an air of generosity and elegance to the living spaces. The building’s textural quality is achieved through the juxtaposition of timber cladding and the strong presence of the rammed earth. Rough sawn vertical timber is detailed for its setting - embracing the process of weathering and creating a lively facade. This project is exemplary in its ambition to unite environmental performance, site-specific design, generous planning and affordable construction.’

Residential Architecture – Houses (Alterations & Additions)

Winner: Surf Coast House by Ian Sercombe Architect
SurfCoastHouse_IanSercombeArchitect_Photo-ClaudiaGabrielLim_02-1.jpgPhotography by Claudia Gabriel Lim

Jury citation: ‘The Surf Coast House is a haptic renovation to an uninspiring, modest coastal dwelling. Thoughtful re-planning and the inclusion of seven new skylights have been transformative, without resorting to extending the footprint of the building. External figurative cladding has lifted its presentation remarkably from the public domain and the private open space, while internally the original blockwork walls are left exposed and juxtaposed with new plywood innings. With a very modest budget this project is an outstanding example of how the skill of the architect can achieve more with less.’

Commendation: Tom and Doll’s by Space Studio

Jury citation: ‘This sensitive addition to a traditional cottage within a heritage area successfully enhances existing spaces while adding an open, light filled living pavilion and adjacent master bedroom. Sound planning principles balance separation of old and new. A lower roofed link admits welcome north light into the south facing new addition; while connecting the home as a cohesive whole and keeping a compact footprint. Careful detailing, particularly of the various shade structures, combined with subtle context and climate appropriate material, texture and colour choices, create an airy and delightful home with a strong connection to the surrounding gardens.’

Residential Architecture – Houses (New)

Winner: Gull House by Harley Graham Architects
GullHouse_HGA_DavidTaylorPhotos_01.jpgPhotography by David Taylor

Jury citation: ‘Gull House is a playful and expressive project which is the culmination of a close and effective collaboration between client, builder, engineer and architect in producing a dynamic composition from the street while creating a sanctuary from within. The materials are thoughtfully arranged, reinforcing the overall composition, while the subtle bending in weatherboard alignments enhance the three dimensional aspect of the dwelling. The planning of both the external and internal spaces reflects the site’s constraint for creating privacy while connecting the home to the landscape beyond. This project was influenced by the novella, Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach.’

Small Projects

Winner: Light Wave by Harley Graham Architects
LIGHTWAVE_HGA_DavidTaylorPhoto_01.jpgPhotography by David Taylor

Jury citation: ‘Confident as a folly, Light Wave is a pool awning transformed. It is an expression of shelter, lookout and exhibition while also creating a surprising moment visible from a nearby public pathway which is discussed, admired and enjoyed. The materiality and execution reinforces its intent and the arrangement of associated entry and amenities are well conceived. Once again the architect demonstrates their skill of lifting a project from the prosaic to the poetic.’

Commendation: Broken Head Studio by Harley Graham Architects

Jury citation: ‘The Broken Head Studio is a classically composed garden pavilion which has been elegantly detailed and realised. The success of the project is not with innovation but with its understanding of the typology of the pavilion within the landscape. In a culture of excess, this is a modest studio that fulfils the client’s wish of a retreat in the forest.’

Termimesh Award

Winner: Dorrigo Health and Wellbeing Medical Centre by Regional Architects Pty Ltd
DorrigoHealthandWellbeingMedicalCentre_RegionalArchitects_Photo-SinclairBlack_01-1.jpgPhotography by Sinclair Black 

Jury citation: ‘The use of timber in the Dorrigo Health and Wellbeing Medical Centre corresponds beautifully with the aims of the holistic health program of the medical centre. The manner of its utilisation and execution contributes greatly to the success of the project. Great care has been taken to select local species and to source most of the timber from local sustainable mills. The selection of timber for many elements including structural, interior lining and framing of external secondary structures is highly appropriate to their application and is integral to the success of the project.’