By road and air, the 2012 National Awards jury travelled over 22,000 kilometres, visiting fifty-three projects Australia-wide to make their assessments. Jury chair Brian Zulaikha reflects on their findings and favourite moments.
The task of the National Architecture Awards jury is to identify the most outstanding projects by the Australian architectural profession. The projects should embody best practice principles, showcase sustainable solutions and ultimately go on to become part of our architectural history.
The 2012 jury consisted of five members with a nodding familiarity, travelling together at breakneck speed around Australia. We covered a distance of 2,377 kilometres along the country’s roads and 20,013 kilometres in the air. That’s a breathtaking distance of 22,390 kilometres.
We had a “super” jury, as one of the architects we visited described us. In no particular order, the jurors were Richard Johnson of Johnson Pilton Walker, Gold Medallist — he clapped in all the halls to test the reverberation and had a wonderful way of testing projects against other methods we were all familiar with; Kerry Hill, Gold Medallist and an architect with an international practice of considerable note — Kerry kept measuring spaces, comparing costs, and always supported the best outcome, often seeing the poetic where noone else could; Amy Muir of Muir Mendes, a 2011 National Architecture Awards winner and the emerging architect member, who was a wonderful, insightful and energetic part of the team; and Juliana Engberg, artistic director of ACCA (Australian Centre for Contemporary Art), who expected us to explore our thoughts with intellect, humour, grace and eloquence.
A true bond was formed over the countless days and endless flights and days on the road. My heartfelt thanks go to Richard, Kerry, Amy and Juliana — you each made this journey a pleasurable, invigorating and insightful experience.
The jury considered 157 eligible entries and from this we shortlisted fifty-nine projects, visiting fifty-three. This was a very important part of the judging process, as we only (at this stage) had the architects’ statements, drawings and photographs. We were able to speak with jury chairs from all the states and territories — this proved invaluable and as a result we visited a record number of projects. This is the second year that such a large number of projects were visited; this is testament to the quality of work currently being carried out in Australia.
We travelled the suburbs of Fremantle, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Hobart and Brisbane, where architects had found a link to their own ideas and created meaningful contributions to the broader community. We travelled far and wide on country roads: the Great Ocean Road, the magical snow gum forests of the Bungonia nature reserve and Jervis Bay in New South Wales, the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria and through the Regency Downs, west of Brisbane.
There were a few areas of note this year; things that the jury noticed as specific and that possibly inform our current architecture. The first is the sense of community — projects where community values informed the process and possibly outweighed purely architectural goals. There were also projects that were inspired by and could not have happened without the gestures of a great philanthropic client. Thirdly (and the jury believes this deserves a special note) there was a preponderance of animals in one form or another in almost all projects. Mostly alive, but sometimes as artefacts on display.
Each project was presented to us personally by the architects responsible and their clients or building managers, and we relished the opportunity to spend quality time with the best Australian architects.
The inclusion of our international colleagues in the shortlisting of The Jørn Utzon Award for International Architecture was a welcome recent initiative of the National Council. The jury took pleasure in reviewing this international work, but the decision-making can only be based on the material provided. It made this category quite difficult to judge.
The jury wishes to thank and congratulate all the winners in the 2012 National Architecture Awards. With poetics of space and materials you have enriched our communities, and skilfully advocated for the quality of our profession and our professionalism.
National Awards jury 2012
Juliana Engberg, Kerry Hill, Richard Johnson, Amy Muir and Brian Zulaikha (jury chair, and Immediate Past President of the Australian Institute of Architects).