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    Sydney building wins UK's RIBA International award

    David Wheeldon

    The Youth Mental Health Building at the Brain and Mind Research Institute (BMRI) in Sydney yesterday won a Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) International Award for 2011.

    Designed by BVN Architecture, it was the only Australian building to make the list of 13 winners.

    Announced in London last night, the winners include some of the world’s leading architects including Zaha

    Foster + Partner for the futuristic Masdar Institute, and Zaha Hadid for the curvaceous Guangzhou Opera House.

    Guangzhou Opera House (Image: Iwan Baan)

    The Youth Mental Health Building at the Brain and Mind Research Institute (BMRI) (Image: John Gollings)

    This year also sees the dramatic rebuilding and renovation of buildings including the Iron Market in Port au Prince — seen as Haiti’s 'Eiffel Tower' and the transformation from empty factory to housing of the Stanislavsky Factory in Moscow, both by John McAslan + Partners.

    A RIBA spokesperson said the awards recognise “a star studded cast of imaginative and breathtaking buildings.”

    The 13 winning projects will all receive awards and will now be considered for the RIBA Lubetkin prize that will be presented in London on the 1 October 2011.

    This is the second time that BMRI has been recognised on the international stage, last November it won the Health Category award at the World Architecture Festival (WAF), giving it the title of ‘Best Health Building in the World’.

    James Grose, BVN National Director said, “This building was designed to take into account many diverse requirements and constraints, it had to provide a human scaled and tactile environment for mental health patients on one hand and address an inner-city streetscape that combines residences and the remnants of the industrial character of Camperdown on the other.”

    The BMRI is part of the Faculty of Medicine of The University of Sydney focused on research into mental health and clinical issues relating to the brain.

    The Youth Mental Health Building consists of two floors of consulting and patient interaction and two floors of research laboratories.

    The Youth Mental Health Building at the Brain and Mind Research Institute (BMRI) (Image: John Gollings)

    The challenge was fitting this new facility into a group of existing buildings - the result is a design that is integrated into the streetscape with a translucent glass box sitting on top of an existing facade making a rich and interesting contribution to the neighbourhood.

    Mr Grose commended his clients, particularly Prof Ian Hickie and Prof Max Bennett for their support through the creative and design process of this now world acclaimed project.

    “To win another award amongst the world’s best is a tremendous confidence booster for Australian architects,’ he said.

    The RIBA International Awards are presented to architecture practices based outside the UK building anywhere outside the UK; or for practices based in Britain and working outside the EU.

    All winners are eligible for the RIBA Lubetkin Prize awarded to the best international building by an RIBA member the presentation. The winner of the RIBA Lubetkin prize will be announced on Saturday 1 October.

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