The International Chapter Architecture Awards program was introduced in 2012. Prior to this year, projects entered in the International category were considered directly by the National Jury of the National Architecture Awards program. Projects were eligible for award of either the Jørn Utzon Award for International Architecture, Awards for International Architecture, or Commendations for International Architecture, each of which were introduced to the program in 2007.
Prior to 2007, the Institute from time to time bestowed the RAIA National International Award to worthy projects. The list of recipients of this Award includes the following:
2006 – House on Rochalie Drive, Singapore by WOHA
2006 – Sukhumvit Soi 53 Apartments, Bangkok, Thailand by Kerry Hill Architects
2006 – (Commendation) ITC Sonar Bangla Hotel, Calcutta, India by Kerry Hill Architects
2006 – (Commendation) National Library Building, Singapore by TR Hamzah & Yeang Sdn Bhd
2000 – Westpac Trust Stadium, Wellington, New Zealand by Bligh Lobb Sports Architecture + Warren and Mahoney Architecture
1999 – Emerald Hill Road Terrace House, Singapore by WOHA & WH Architects
1999 – 20 Years in Papua New Guinea, PNG by David Week, Ken Costigan and Iain Stevenson
1998 – Menara UMNO, Georgetown, Malaysia by TR Hamzah & Yeang
1997 – Genisis, Singapore by Kerry Hill Architects
1996 – Menara Mesiniaga, Selangor, Malaysia by TR Hamzah & Yeang
1995 – Meridien Bank, Lusaka, Zambia by Walter Dokins & Anderson and Anderson
1994 – The Datai, Langkawi, Malaysia by Kerry Hill & Akitek Jurarancang
1994 – (Commendation) Kuching Waterfront, Kuching, Malaysia by Conybeare Morrison/United Consultants
1993 – Muang Thong Thani, Bangkok, Thailand by Nation Fender
1992 – Australian Embassy, Beijing, China by Denton Corker Marshall
2011 Jørn Utzon Award for International Architecture: The Met, Bangkok, Thailand by WOHA
The establishment of a specialist high school for the visual and performing arts, in the civic heart of Singapore and at the gateway to the arts and entertainment district, has given WOHA the chance to juggle many disparate uses and demands. The site is not large but the building would need to be; the climate is hot, humid and almost breezeless; the brief calls for public spaces, thoroughfares and performance theatres, yet also for secure, flexible teaching spaces.
The resulting building is massive and at first hard to read, a monumentally scaled base with three finger-like blocks on top and bridges at the highest of roof levels. Its podium, referred to as the “backdrop,” is a shaded, cool, naturally ventilated public thoroughfare. A short cut between streets, it houses the performing arts theatres and even retail.
Designed as a “machine for wind,” the podium channels and intensifies light breezes to make comfortable the gathering spaces where the public and students interact. Visible from this level is the “blank canvas,” the three secure, flexible teaching blocks in which students’ creativity can be fostered within minimal constraints.
WOHA has adeptly fulfilled a complex brief, initiated green measures, brought light into a deep plan, created neutral territories in which to demystify the arts and achieved an architectural expression that connects its podium to the historic scale of its surrounds and offers an alternative to the tower atop a podium via its three striated forms.
Materials are robust and energetically detailed, resulting in an architecture that is both welcoming and of civic value.
2011 Award for International Architecture: Amankora by Kerry Hill Architects
The architect’s respectful fifteen-year association with Bhutan’s natural environment and its indigenous buildings is evident in the careful and varied site selection for the five lodges and the architectural expression of each.
Buildings are Bhutanese in form and general materiality. However, they have been configured variously as a series of rooms (from eight to twenty-four) to create lodges. One is discovered through a forest walk, another in an orange orchard beside a restored farmhouse, another as a “village” and another as a series of random rubble buildings, drawing on traditional valley institutional and domestic building. The resulting architecture is noteworthy for its elegance of plan and the quality of external spaces for journey or contemplation.
Designed as plywood boxes within the building shells, the interiors are enriched by custom-designed furnishings, fabrics and lighting, which contrast the rustic with the crafted.
However, it may be that the legacy of this remarkable project is the transfer of Western Australia’s stabilized earth technology to Bhutanese contractors. The traditional mud building technique, susceptible to earthquake and rain, now has a substitute in stabilized earth, which could prolong the traditional form of building expression.
2011 Commendation for International Architecture: Suzhou Industrial Park Logistics Centre by Johnson Pilton Walker
Known for the almost overnight changes to its industrial and development landscapes, China offers a challenge to architects to design buildings and places that will have enduring meaning, even if later surrounded by towers of indifferent disposition.
The Logistics Centre addresses an uncertain urban future by being two things at once. It is a tower proportioned as a series of sixteen “boxes,” purposefully scaled to relate to the (currently) low-height buildings and shipping containers. There is even one red tower “container” loosely stacked to acknowledge its ground-hugging cousins. At the same time it is a tower of elegant composition, projecting confidently a refined architecture that will ensure longevity of its landmark status at the entrance to the Suzhou Industrial Park.
Attention to passive environmental initiatives throughout the podium and tower has delivered the highest possible sustainability rating in China (equivalent to Australia’s six stars), an achievement that is all the more impressive given the industrial setting.
The project demonstrates a meticulous resolution of form, structure and detailing, which collectively enhance the amenity and experience for all building users.
2010 Jørn Utzon Award for International Architecture: The Met, Bangkok, Thailand by WOHA
The Met in Bangkok, Thailand, represents major advances toward a possible future vision of ecologically responsible, highly dense urban housing. It is often claimed that high-rise buildings, particularly in hot climates, cannot be naturally ventilated, and that if we are to intensify urban density we are therefore doomed to inhabit closed, airconditioned glass boxes. The Met proves that claim wrong by creating tropical houses in the sky, with breezeways, outdoor living areas, planters, gardens and communal facilities on open-air terraces. Innovation and brilliant architectural strategic thinking answer extremely challenging climatic questions. In tropical and subtropical cities and many other urban conditions, high elevation offers more privacy, better views, lower humidity, stronger breezes and less noise and dust than street-level living. In the Met, WOHA has created enjoyable living conditions within an extremely high residential density – a plot ratio of 10:1 – by cleverly staggering the block arrangement to show all apartments access to light and air on all four sides, enabling living without airconditioning. The sixty-six storey form, of towers linked by sky terraces at every five storeys, creates a slender, light and porous lattice. Vertical facades are shaded by creeper screens rising up the full height, protecting the apartments and the dramatic yet human-scaled external spaces in the sky. Originality and beauty come together in The Met – a great solution to the issues of density in tropical Asian cities and, excitingly, a model directly translatable to many Australian cities.
2010 Award for International Architecture: Kesho Leo Children’s Home, Sinon, Tanzania by Watson Architecture + Design
Kesho Leo, meaning “today, tomorrow” in Kiswahili, is a home and community centre with educational, social and health facilities for eighty women, children and orphans and the wider remote rural community of Sinon in Tanzania. The extremely limited budget and the site configuration required the building footprint and surface area to be contained, retaining as much agricultural land as possible. Other major factors were the challenging tropical climate and the high expense and poor availability of often inferior materials. As is often the case with good architecture, adversity inspired innovation throughout the project – in planning arrangements, systems such as the unique “kanga” roof system and site precast concrete walkway elements, and processes.
The site had no services at all so the whole complex is totally self-supporting. The building is surrounded by a permaculture farm. Energy is generated on site – electricity from solar, methane gas from an in-ground biodigester. Harvested rainwater is stored in tanks under the building, the surplus going to an artificial aquifer built from old truck tyres.
The local community was involved in construction, volunteer builders imparting building knowledge to local subsistence farmers. The architects and the whole team have shown generosity (their work was gratis), vision and ingenuity in intelligently addressing real social problems. Although attractive architecture, this was most certainly not a superficial aesthetic exercise. This was a project literally conceived and built from the ground up, created from absolutely minimal means in almost impossible conditions. Australian architects have created in Kesho Leo an architecture of great meaning and an international beacon for social and ecological responsibility.
2010 Award for International Architecture: Bras Basah Mass Rapid Transit Station, Singapore by WOHA
Bras Basah Mass Rapid Transit Station is the result of WOHA’s winning design for an international competition, which elegantly resolves the issues of a very deep station set in the historic district in the heart of Singapore. Their strategy was to create a station roof as skylight and landscape watergarden. This water-filled glass skylight is a reflection pool when viewed from the surrounding park and buildings, while from the station below it offers visual connection to the exterior and daylight penetration, greatly enhancing the travel experience for commuters.
The watergarden reflects historic buildings, creating a formal civic forecourt to the museum, cathedral and library of the Singapore Management University. As skylight, it provides natural light and views deep into the ground, achieving an ambience not traditionally associated with underground transit. The commuter experience, way-finding and safety are greatly improved. Other technical aspects of the project are similarly well resolved, including ventilation shafts and service elements generally. The combination of watergarden and skylight cleverly reduces thermal transmission without compromising daylight.
This is a contemporary work deftly handled by the architects, with a degree of sensitivity and formality that allows this new transit station to enhance the civic qualities of the historic district. It serves as an exemplar for the retrofitting of public transport infrastructure into existing city fabric.
2010 Award for International Architecture: Wall House, Shizuoka, Japan by Peter Stutchbury Architecture with Keiji Ashizawa Design
An extraordinary commission to design for one of Japan’s most revered designers has resulted in an extraordinary house. In a country with an ancient tradition of exquisite refined landscapes and architecture, it is perhaps surprising that an Australian architect would be asked to add to that culture. The Wall House doesn’t disappoint. Rather than enclose or frame the landscape, the house becomes part of it, with large timber sliding doors opening to the shores of the Pacific Ocean.
The structure becomes a wall between street and garden, creating a place of tranquillity and contemplation. An elegant frame structure extends well beyond the house, supporting the sliding doors and slatted screens, and emphasizing the range of screening, filtering options. The gently warping twisted shingled roof, the ordered plan, the simple palette of timber and stone, the calm of water and the restrained, consistent detailing combine to produce a house of rare beauty and serenity.
Australia’s growing international reputation for unique residential architecture that relates to landscape is further enhanced by this simple, elegant house that beautifully demonstrates the richness of cultural fusion.
2010 Commendation for International Architecture: Alila Villas Uluwatu, Bali, Indonesia by WOHA
Perched high above the sea on a south-facing limestone outcrop, the Alila Villas in Uluwatu, Bali, Indonesia, comprise a fifty-suite hotel and thirty-five residential villas. In the dry savannah landscape of the Bukit Peninsula, the resort addresses two contemporary architectural concerns.
The first is the way architecture might contribute to the development of an emerging luxury hotel genre. Hotels like the Alila Villas cater to design-savvy travellers seeking an ecologically sustainable, socially responsible holiday experience. The significant sustainability initiatives of this project embrace the passive and the active, the material and the social – including large overhangs and cross-ventilation, sewage treatment and sewage water recycling in a grey water system, and locally sourced materials and furnishings created by craftspeople from Java and Bali.
The second concern is for the creation of an architecture that is both vernacular and modernist. Alila Villas has the atmosphere of traditional Balinese pavilion architecture and a reassuring internationalism that derives from a broad church of architectural references.
2010 Commendation for International Architecture: Aman New Delhi, India by Kerry Hill Architects
There is a palpable sense that the Aman New Delhi is a haven of tranquillity in the bustling city. This is an urban response to the type. It is the architecture that reconciles public engagement with the city and the discreet experience of a hotel resort.
Located near the centre of the city, within the order of Lutyens’ Delhi, the hotel’s program gathers around an elegant, enclosed courtyard with a lawn, reflection pools and mature trees. The quiet dignity of the resort is hewn from a restrained suite of materials – dark-stained timber panelling, olive-hued Rajasthani Khareda stone and handmade carpet. The principal element is a resolutely rectilinear column, inherent in much Mughal architecture. These columns articulate the mass of the building form, edge the courtyards and circulation spines and frame delicate screens. Referencing traditional Indian architecture, the screens are interpreted here in glass-reinforced concrete and fixed with stainless steel brackets. These screens are an atmospheric and experiential device – curating sunlight, privacy and views, and animated by daytime shadows and the glow of evening.
2009 Jørn Utzon Award for International Architecture: TKTS Booth and Redevelopment of Duffy Square, New York by Choi Ropiha, Perkins Eastman and PKSB
The jury especially liked the vibrant character, logical public meeting place and practical sales point offered by this competition-winning design,. The “red steps” are a new and potent symbol of New York.
The project began in 1999 with an international competition to redesign the popular TKTS booth at the centre of Times Square.
The brief simply requested a small-scale architectural structure to replace the existing ticket booth. However, Choi Ropiha believed an urban design response was needed. They felt a conventional building in Times Square would undermine the powerful spatial character of the place and also that public space in Times Square is precious – as one of the city’s great gathering points and a focus of urban theatre.
Choi Ropiha’s scheme terraces the square’s public domain upward as a series of tiered red translucent slabs to form an inclined public space with the booth housed beneath. This gesture forms new public space to pause and take in the “theatre” of Times Square while creating a built form that is “un-building-like”.
Lit from below, the whole staircase glows at night, strengthening the presence of TKTS within the visually charged context of Times Square. The structure also forms a heightened backdrop for the nearby statue of Father Duffy and resolves a long running debate about the presence of the booth within the curtilage of the statue.
Following the competition, the design was developed and taken to construction by Perkins Eastman and PKSB Architects (responsible for the plaza design). The concept has evolved to become an exceptional glass structure sitting on an expanded open plaza.
The functional requirements of the booth were expanded to twelve ticket counters and have been accommodated within an extremely compact compartment beneath the steps. Technical achievements include the all-glass structure of the steps, the geothermal heating of the booth and steps, and LED lighting.
This successful project shows that, through good design and a commitment to the public realm, difficult client groups can come together to achieve rich outcomes.
2009 Award for International Architecture: Qatar Science and Technology Park by Woods Bagot
The jury especially liked the strong structural/sculptural qualities of this major development, and the contrast provided by abstract filigree canopies and screens.
Qatar’s new Science and Technology Park (STP) is a key initiative of the Qatar Foundation in establishing Qatar as a knowledge economy in the Middle East. The masterplan for the STP encompasses 123 hectares, with phase one construction comprising 115,000 square metres. At its heart is the 12,000 square-metre Incubator Centre, incorporating the administrative hub and business centre, flanked by the first two tenant laboratory Information Transfer Centre buildings (each 20,000 square metres). All three buildings sit on a landscaped podium, providing undercroft car parking for 1,450 cars.
The design draws on Islamic cultural references in an abstracted, contemporary expression using cutting-edge technology. An important feature of Islamic architecture is the focus on interior space as opposed to the outside or façade. The buildings are generally enveloped by double-skin facades that respond to climate, and the internal, highly elaborate atriums are equivalent to the inner life of a traditional courtyard.
The distinctive wave-like roof of STP’s circulation spine has a delicate, sculptural quality that strongly contrasts with the horizontality of the landscape. It shades the outdoor areas and connects the buildings physically and symbolically, creating a floating veil of intensive, abstract and appropriate patterning.
Capitalizing on its strategic location, the Incubator Centre has an aeronautical, hovering quality, which gives it a subliminal presence.
The linked buildings provide a vast complex for new initiatives in Qatar. In their scale, resolution and architectural interest, in particular the contrasting of robust metal-clad frames with delicate floating canopies, they have achieved a futuristic entity with an accessible reference to local tradition.
2008 Jørn Utzon Award for International Architecture: Watercube – National Swimming Centre by CSCEC + PTW Architects + CCDI + ARUP
Situated along the main axis of the Olympic Green across from the National Stadium, the National Swimming Centre is one of the two main venues for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. These two buildings have become the symbol of the Beijing Olympics, and the “Watercube” and the “Birdsnest” are worthy companions.
The design of the National Swimming Centre combines the idea of the molecular structure of water with the symbol of the square to create an inspired and inventive architecture. Conceptually, the square box and interior spaces are carved out of a cluster of foam bubbles, nature transformed into structure.
The Watercube uses state-of-the-art materials to create a visually striking building that is also energy efficient and ecologically friendly. The entire geometry is based on a unique lightweight construction system made up of a transparent dual cushion envelope captured in a steel frame, integrated as one element. The building has a chameleon-like quality that captures light in an extraordinary and memorable way. In every respect the Watercube is an engaging and ethereal building, which straddles comfortably the traditions of both Chinese and Western architecture.
2008 Award for International Architecture: Stadium Mass Rapid Transit Station by WOHA
The Stadium MRT Station in Singapore is a major new underground transport facility, servicing an adjoining indoor sports stadium and surrounding entertainment, leisure and residential precincts. WOHA won the commission through an international design competition and the result is an outstanding contribution to international architecture.
Conceived as a massive underground sculpture, the station is like a geological fissure or fault line that has opened up to reveal a secret underworld. The station works as a major dramatic space that offers the public a moment of spatial grandeur in their daily commute, much in the manner of the great stations of Europe.
The form of the station is generated by the flow of crowds down to the platforms below, as well as a tectonic play on two contrasting geometric shapes – a linear element against a curved one. A continuous central skylight creates a dramatic day-lit interior, while openings in the above ground forms allow views down to the platform level from the arrival plaza.
Journeying into the station is like descending into a giant shimmering grotto that draws crowds to its interior. This is an inspired piece of urban architecture that adds delight to the world of the underground train station.
2008 Award for International Architecture: Newton Suites, Singapore by WOHA
Newton Suites is an exemplary model of a tropical high-rise residential building in an established urban setting. Sustainability initiatives are integrated into the building’s design and contribute to its engaging appearance. The exterior of the thirty-six storey tower uses sunshading elements, patterned planes, perforated screens, protruding balconies and a living vertical landscape as part of the building’s language. The extensive use of landscape material adds great drama and textural effect through sky gardens, green walls and rooftop planting. This also contributes to building comfort and visual delight, with the extensive use of greenery bringing the indoor/outdoor potential of the tropics to life. Whilst these devices are not new, WOHA has produced an inspired and disciplined building that advances the idea of sustainable high-rise living.
The residential tower sits on a four-storey base building which houses car parking and resident amenities. The above-ground car park is wrapped in creepers and topped with a roof garden and swimming pool. The integration of tower and base is particularly well handled, as are the overall urban manners of the complex.
Extensive environmental elements, liveable apartments and generous communal areas combine to create a unique tropical building. It achieves both Singapore’s national vision for a green city and an improved living environment for the residents.
2008 Commendation for International Architecture: Beijing Olympic Green Tennis Centre by Bligh Voller Nield in collaboration with CCDI
The new Olympic Tennis Centre is located on a gently sloping western edge of Forest Park, the vast new landscape that terminates the axis of the main Olympic site. The centre piece of the complex is the 17,400 seat stadium, which sits above the terrain like a large opening flower. The balance of the facility is organised around a linear sequence of four giant platforms that step up the sloping park edge and so bring in the surrounding landscape into the site.
There is a clear hierarchical and compositional organisation to the site that culminates with the striking profile of the main stadium. The centre court stadium is composed of twelve segmented raking plates separated by tapered openings, which invites vision into the inner bowl. Combined with the dramatic cantilevered roof, this makes for a memorable structure. This is a very formal architectural solution but one delivered with consistency and strength of purpose.
2007 Jørn Utzon Award for International Architecture: Manchester Civil Justice Centre by Denton Corker Marshall.
This extraordinary new project in Manchester was the result of an international design competition for what is the largest court complex to be built in the United Kingdom for a number of years.
The design of the complex advances a range of ideas about how an institution with hundreds of years of precedent can be made relevant to contemporary society. The bold design replaces the traditional solid courthouse structure, which contains and encloses justice, with an idea about transparency and connection.
The layered walls, which give the building its distinctive plan form and profile, are essentially varying layers of transparency and solidity, each layer proposing a specific relationship with either the city of Manchester or the court users. The high glazed wall for the public atrium at the building’s forecourt links the building directly to a space of the city. Within the interior of the courts, this transparency continues to mediate the public’s relationship with the court functions. The major courts themselves are arrayed in a dramatic series of cantilever forms at the ends of the building, suggesting quite literally the courts’ dynamic connection to the city.
The effect of these architectural strategies is to position the courts as open and accessible within a contemporary democratic culture.
The project also reinforces the value of design competitions for major public buildings, in advancing new ways of thinking about traditional building types.
2007 National Award for International Architecture: Soho Shangdu by Lab Architecture Studio
Working within the rapid-growth economy of China provides serious challenges to international architects. These challenges include the vast scale, complexity and speed of major development, but also, more specifically, the question of how Western architects can provide culturally appropriate design strategies within contemporary Chinese culture.
The Soho Shangdu development clearly meets these challenges. It is an utterly contemporary development, which also engages seriously with the characteristics of Chinese cultural traditions and urban types. The planning is a hybrid, with a Western generic commercial development overlaid with traditional Chinese street and courtyard structures. These references fold back into the contemporary design, to differentiate it from being merely a Western “import” and to connect it directly to a local tradition.
Similarly, the external form of the buildings makes use of traditional Chinese ice-ray patterns (often used in joinery and paving), and scales these references up for use on the mega object. The result in three-dimensional form creates an energetic relationship with the surrounding streets, further adding to the project’s engagement with the local. This relationship with the streets clearly counts, and reinforces the success of the project as a relevant proposition for mega-scale urbanism.