Projects from all over the country flooded our news desk over the month of April and they came in as varied as they did frequently.

The Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) regional Queensland architecture awards commenced and we began to see what QLD projects will be making headlines in 2015.

In NSW, the University of Technology Sydney opened their latest building as part of their City Master Plan and we also heard that plans were developing for a new city airport in Badgerys Creek.

Across the month we also covered commercial projects from Tasmania, housing news from Melbourne and a new-look interior design model from the largest fast food franchise in the world; McDonalds.

Below is the list of the top 10 stories for Architecture & Design in April. Click on the title or images to be taken to the original story, and let us know which your favourites were - or what else we should have covered.

1.Cumulus Studio transforms hydroelectric power plant into wilderness retreat

Cumulus Studio’s repurposing of an abandoned Tasmanian hydroelectric power plant into a wilderness hotel was easily our most read story in April. Cumulus gutted the inside of the two derelict buildings on the abandoned site and inserted 18 new guest suites. Click through and see how the architects completed the fitout whilst keeping their facades untouched.  

2.Design Delta Architects produce Australia’s first Byzantine style monastery

Perched on Mangrove Mountain, about 90 minutes north of Sydney, the Pantanassa Monastery stands as a contemporary rendition of ancient Byzantine architecture, combining current day design practices with ancient materials to create Australia’s first Greek Orthodox monastery produced in this ancient style. The Monastery’s roof was hot conversation for our readers, particularly around how the building, which has no gutters, would cope with heavy rain and dew.

3. University student accidentally invents cement alternative that traps CO2 [video]

When chemist David Stone was a PhD student at the University of Arizona in the United States, an experiment that went wrong allowed him to create an eco-friendly alternative to cement that will be brought to the market through his company, Iron Shell, this year. The product has since been tested to be about five times stronger than Portland cement and features iron as its key ingredient

4. Plans leaked: Sydney’s Badgery Creek Airport to commence construction next year

Confidential plans for Sydney's second airport at Badgerys Creek were leaked by an Australian mainstream media outlet in April, who also revealed that stage one construction could begin next year and that the airport would eventually rival the size of JFK International Airport in New York. Click through to see those plans and maps.

5. Australia’s apartment design going backwards: Vic Architect weighs in on the great apartment standards debate

We caught up with Michael Smith, Director and architect of Victorian firm Atelier Red + Black, to discuss the idea of a set of apartment standards for Victoria. Smith and his firm were recently responsible for an online survey project which has since produced quantitative evidence that could lend weight to the argument for minimum apartment standards in Victoria. His response certainly rekindled the heated discussion about the relevance and parameters of apartment design standards.

6. McDonalds Thornleigh by Juicy Design signals localisation of restaurant concepts

Tom Williams, Design Director of Juicy Design was responsible for the interior fitout of the recently opened ‘Create Your Taste kitchen’ Thornleigh McDonalds restaurant and he explains that his architectural contribution reflects the new customer-focussed mantra for the Kingpin of fast food restaurants.

7. Small project turning heads: Copper House by Takt | Studio for Architecture

Set protected in the shelter of the northerly Coogee headland on Sydney’s coastline stands a new copper clad residence by Takt | Studio for Architecture, so small it’s barely visible from the street, but unique enough that it still turns a head or two.

8. Local House by MAKE Architecture contrasts timber screens with off-form concrete

Local House, an extension to a St Kilda Californian Bungalow in Melbourne by MAKE, doesn’t deviate from the firm’s strong sustainability ethos. Inspired by how its owners live and enjoy life, the home is conceived more like a favourite local café than a house, and sustainability is addressed with small but playful and efficiently designed spaces built to last.

9. First look: Durbach Block Jaggers and BVN design rippling facade for new UTS Science and Graduate School of Health

When you have a Gehry-designed building at the heart of your billion-dollar City Campus Master Plan, it is easy to let your other developments fade away to the background. For the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), however, this was never an option. Its third building to be opened under the plan is a $154 million structure designed by Durbach Block Jaggers in association with BVN Architecture, and it has a few tricks up its sleeves if you care to take a closer look.


10. Bidding begins for Sydney’s tallest tower

Developers Leighton Properties, Walker corporation, Dyldam and Centurion Custodians have been shortlisted to build the 90-storey Aspire Tower designed by Grimshaw Architects and what could be Sydney’s tallest building in New South Wales’ Parramatta.