More than 400 guests attended the 20th annual BDAV Building Design Awards to celebrate excellence in building design.
Hosted by editor-in-chief of Vogue Living, Neale Whitaker, the Awards ceremony recognised excellence in design.
Once again, the field was strong with many unique and interesting projects in contention across a range of residential and non-residential categories. In total, more than 30 awards were presented on the night, showcasing the breadth of creativity and expertise among Victoria’s building designers.
Coming from a regional-based firm myself, I was proud to see Warrnambool’s Designers By Nature take home top prize for its Coastal Exposure project and claim the firm’s first ever Building Design of the Year award. The project has since received extensive media coverage in various outlets, including Herald Sun online, Green Magazine and Style Curator.
Bursting onto the scene was Fitzroy-based design practice Taylor Reynolds Pty Ltd, with its Preston Townhouse project winning the ‘Multi-Residential’ category and earning a commendation for the ‘Interior Design – Residential’ category.
Taylor Reynolds designed three double-storey townhouses to appeal to the influx of young professionals new to the suburb.
“We started by undertaking a study of the demographic moving into the area and what was available to them in terms of housing types," said Lauren Taylor, director of Taylor Reynolds. "Inner northern suburbs (like Preston) have changed, and buyers are more ‘design aware.’ The product that is widely available to this group has not lifted to meet the buyer’s sensibilities – there was a gap in the market.
"As self-described 'modernists,' the design team opted for unadorned interiors: prefinished oak boards, concrete, and black kitchen cabinetry to contrast with the white walls. To soften the harder materials, thick woven wool carpets were used, along with sheer linen curtains.
"Externally, the design language references the neighbouring homes, but is reassembled as ‘pitched boxes’ with timber-cladding and bagged brick. A striking polycarbonate-clad entry space became the main axis of the home.
It was fantastic to see a young, energetic, up-and-coming design firm achieve success in this year’s Awards, and we expect to see more of Taylor Reynolds and their projects in the future.
Another standout project was Convertible Courtyards by Christopher Megowan Design, which was judged the best project in the ‘Residential Design – Alterations & Additions up to $200,000’ and ‘Most Innovative Small Works Project’ categories.
The project certainly lived up to its award as an ‘Innovative Small Works Project’ with the design featuring a convertible roof manually operated through a complex pulley, rails and counterweight system – with the counterweights being a steel planter box.
The horizontal shade structure is a combination of both timber battened screening over the transparent roofing and exposed galvanised steel framing; the galvanised steel aqueduct harvests rainwater from the convertible roof, which cascades to a galvanised tank. This basic principle of water harvesting was a significant feature and talking point of the project.
Located in the inner Melbourne suburb of Prahran, Convertible Courtyards is an outstanding example of working within the restrictions of a small site and poor solar access while still achieving desired outcomes on a limited budget.
“The team worked hard to get the orientation right to make the most of natural light and warmth," Christopher Megowan said. "It’s still one of the most essential, yet overlooked, requirements that makes a big difference to people’s quality of life. In this home, living areas were located at the rear of the block (south-facing) so the team introduced feature light-well courtyards to draw light deep into the home.
"We aim to have at least one moment in every project which is part of a larger gesture. In this home, this gesture is retractable sun shades over the courtyards.”
It is quite clear that for projects created by Christopher Megowan Design, details receive love and care. For this home, the timber windows were custom joined on site and sandwiched between spotted gum. The team created a mini ‘aqueduct’ using galvanised tiered open gutters to carry water down to the water tank and ‘give a show’ when it rains.
Megowan’s ‘clever efficiency’ translates into maximising the spaces which require special treatment, and minimising service requirements. Bamboo-floored living and dining zones are white, clean and spacious, while a nifty laundry is tucked away out of sight.
This year’s Building Design Awards also featured a new category called the ‘Best Unbuilt Project,’ with Melbourne Design Studios taking the honours for their Beach House Sorrento project. You could clearly see that this was a very a special project to designer Marc Bernstein-Hussmann, as he shared his intimate insights into the project despite it never achieving its full realisation of becoming a built project.
“An opportunity lost,” he said.
You can see the full list of award winners and project profiles here.