Short Lane, a new mixed use apartment complex in Sydney’s inner-city neighbourhood, Surry Hill has won the Australian Institute of Architects’ National Architecture Award in the Residential Architecture and Multiple Housing category.

The jury chose Short Lane for the award based on the building’s ability to provide its residents with a sustainable, private environment within a dense, urban setting, particularly noting that the project maintained a connection to its surroundings with walkable laneways and public venues at the ground level.

Woods Bagot Principal and Global Design Leader Domenic Alvaro, who led this project, described the award as “an affirmation of good design that gives more to the neighbourhood than a building alone”.

Alvaro says, “We brought the garden into the very fabric of their living spaces. Equally, by reinvigorating the Short Lane at its eastern boundary, the development contributes to Surry Hill’s reactivated laneway network.”

Short Lane’s exterior is clad in board-formed concrete and marked by individual cantilevered balconies for each of its 22 apartments with botanical spaces, highlighting the “greening of a city” concept that is popular in the state for its ability to integrate natural beauty into a built environment. The design team also selected species native to the region to meet minimal water requirements and ultimately prevent pollution through runoff.

Since Short Lane’s immediate neighbourhood is known for its pedestrian-friendly streets and walkability, a void was kept between the project’s eastern boundary neighbour, a Methodist church with similar materiality and cubist forms, allowing pedestrians to walk throughout the neighbourhood via the lane.