A mental health facility shaped through a collaborative design process, a school built around student wellbeing and community engagement, a small cottage renovated for a family of six, and a museum designed to last forever were among the winning architectural designs for the Darling Downs and West Moreton region at the Australian Institute of Architects awards evening last week.

The diversity of projects demonstrates the incredible range of talent and skill of architects throughout the region.

Ipswich Hospital Mental Health Acute Inpatient Services

Designed by Hassell for Queensland Health, the mental healthcare facility was honoured with the William Hodgen Award for Building of the Year. The project was also commended in two categories, Interior Architecture and Public Architecture, and recognised for social impact.

Featuring an abundance of natural light, internal green spaces and tranquil sensory rooms, the design focusses on establishing a calm setting, restoring dignity to the healing journey. Wellness areas were also designed for staff, helping to attract and retain quality employees for the region.

Hassell conducted an extensive collaboration process involving patients, carers, clinicians, staff, community groups and First Nations representatives to shape the healing environment. The jury noted that the design is set to “redefine mental healthcare through holistic design”.

Good Samaritan College Polding Place, Toowoomba

Designed by Speculative Architecture and Brammer Architects in association, Toowoomba’s Good Samaritan College Polding Place was awarded Regional Project of the Year. The project also received a Regional Commendation for Educational Architecture and recognition for social impact.

The simple yet robust structure includes classrooms, food technology spaces, a commercial kitchen, cafe, and a design technology workshop. Outdoor learning spaces are located next to traditional teaching spaces, and are flexible for social activities.

The jury described the project as a “piece of adventurous architecture that exceeds the client’s expectations”.

East Toowoomba Cottage Renovation

Designed by Kin Architects, this home renovation in East Toowoomba won House of the Year as well as a Regional Commendation in Residential Architecture - Houses (Alterations and Additions).

Balancing a series of courtyards between new and old, the home was renovated to accommodate a family of six. The line between inside and outside is blurred, allowing the children to zig-zag between spaces with little constraint.

The jury commended the project as “an intuitive and subtle set of adjustments and additions to a small cottage”.

Eromanga Natural History Museum

Designed by Architectus, the first stage of the Eromanga Natural History Museum set in Outback Queensland received the People’s Choice Award and a Regional Commendation for Public Architecture.

The jury described the completed reception and research spaces as the beginning of a building that “aspires to last forever, like the bones it showcases and protects”.

Cunnamulla Hot Springs by COX Architecture, Shed for Propagation in Toowoomba by Marc & Co, and Coulson Creek Shed designed by Reddog Architects won Regional Commendations in their respective categories.

All Commended projects have now been shortlisted for the Australian Institute of Architects’ Queensland Architecture Awards, which will be awarded this month.