Award Categories & Prizes

Below is a list of the different Award Entry Categories, which are consistent across all State Chapters. Winners of these award categories at State level subsequently progress to consideration by the National jury for National Architecture Awards.

In addition, the NSW Chapter award a number of Prizes which are either awarded to relevant entries in the awards submission pool, or presented following independent nominations. Prizes open for nomination include the Marion Mahony Griffin Prize, Adrian Ashton Prize, David Lindner Prize and Emerging Architect Prize. For more information on how to nominate, please select the relevant links below.

NB. Categories 1-9 can be entered into directly. Categories 10 – 12 are selected by jury from relevant entries, and cannot be entered into as independent categories. For International projects, please see details below for submission at national level.

Entering the Newcastle Architecture Awards? Please visit our dedicated information page for details of award categories, key dates and how to enter. 



Category 1:  Public Architecture
Projects in this category must be predominantly of a public or institutional nature generally falling within BCA Class 9. It does not include projects falling within the definition of Educational Architecture or any BCA Class 9b building used primarily for educational purposes.

Category 2: Educational Architecture
Projects in this category may be any preschool, primary, secondary or tertiary educational facility and/or joint research facilities in which an educational institution is a significant partner. Education projects may not be entered in the Public Architecture category.

Category 3:  Residential Architecture – Houses New
Projects in this category must be residential in nature, generally falling within BCA Class 1a, and must include renovations or alterations or additions to an existing building, whether or not the building was residential in nature in the first instance. Projects with up to two self-contained dwellings may be entered in this category.

Category 4:  Residential Architecture  – Houses Alterations and Additions
Projects in this category must be residential in nature, generally falling within BCA Class 1a, and must include renovations or alterations or additions to an existing building, whether or not the building was residential in nature in the first instance. Projects with up to two self-contained dwellings may be entered in this category.

Category 5: Residential Architecture – Multiple Housing
Projects in this category must be residential in nature,  and comprise of or include two or more self-contained dwellings (whether or not the building includes uses for other purposes).

(SEPP65 requires multi-residential buildings in NSW to be designed only by architects. It covers buildings of three or more storeys and four or more self-contained dwellings. The SEPP definition does not generally include villas or town houses, where the dwellings are side by side, rather than on top of each other. The NSW definition is out of step with the national awards policy for multiple dwellings and is currently under review).

Category 6:  Commercial Architecture
This category recognises achievement in the design of projects used primarily for commercial purposes. Generally, projects considered in this category fall within BCA Class 3b | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8.

Category 7: Heritage 

This category is for architectural projects that prolong and enhance the cultural significance of heritage places using the conservation processes defined in the Australia ICOMOS Burra Charter – and possibly including the introduction of new materials (please refer also to the Burra Charter Practice Note for New Work).

Creative Adaptation
This category is for architectural projects that adapt buildings to new uses through innovative design solutions and sustainability measures, while successfully retaining the design integrity of the original structures.

NB. Winners of the CONSERVATION and CREATIVE ADAPTATION categories will  progress to the National Heritage Awards category. Heritage category definition- National awards policy: This category recognises achievement in the conservation, restoration and/or adaptive design of historic building fabric, which may include a study developed in accordance with the Australian ICOMOS Burra Charter.  Projects considered in this category can be of any type or class of building.

Category 8:  Interior Architecture
This category recognises achievement in the design of an interior spatial environment and may include projects completed within a new buildings or the interior refurbishment of an existing building.

Category 9:  Urban Design
Projects in this category may be single buildings, groups of buildings or non-building projects, studies or masterplans, which are of public, civic or urban design in nature. Awarded projects must have enhanced the quality of the built environment or public domain or contribute to the wellbeing of the broader community.

Category 10:  Small Project Architecture
This category recognises achievement in design considered to be ‘small’ in terms of area or budget. Generally, projects considered are those which have been constrained by space or cost restrictions, but have achieved a level of invention, creativity and craftsmanship beyond those constraints.  This category can accommodate projects which might be over-looked against larger scale projects in other categories. Generally, projects of all functional types may be considered.

Category 11:  Sustainable Architecture
This category recognises projects which excel as architecture, and also display innovation and excellence in terms of environmental sustainability. Juries will assess the environmental performance in terms of the Institute’s Environment Policy (Supplement: Sustainable Design Strategies for Architects). Other non-building projects that contribute to the advancement of architecture and to the goals outlined in the Environment Policy may also be considered for this Award.

Members are not able to enter this category directly via the online entry system, but all submitted Awards entries may be considered. Entrants should provide information regarding the sustainable design of the project as part of the entry process. Upon review of all entries, the relevant Jury will determine a shortlist for consideration in this category. Juries will determine a Named Award in this Category where at least 5 entries have been shortlisted for consideration.

Category 12:  Enduring Architecture
Open to buildings of at least 25 years of age, this award recognises achievement for the design of buildings of outstanding merit which remain important as high quality works of architecture when considered in a contemporary context. Nominations for the award are open to all, and members, non-members and non-architects are encouraged to put forward recommendations for consideration by the jury.

Category 13: Colorbond Award for Steel Architecture
Entrants can elect to be included for consideration in this category at the time of entering their project details. The ColorBond Award for Steel Architecture is sponsored by Bluescope Steel and recognises projects in which steel products play a significant role in the architectural solution and exemplify innovation in the use of steel products. To be considered for this Award the use of BlueScope products, including ColorBond, is not mandatory. Bluescope Steel will offer short-listed entrants in this category one complimentary ticket to attend the  Awards Presentation Dinner.

Category 14:  International Architecture
This award acknowledges the work of Institute members resident outside Australia and local members undertaking commissions overseas. Projects in this category must be located outside the eight State and Territory jurisdictions of the Commonwealth of Australia. This award is not considered at Chapter Level, and all members wishing to submit entries for the International Architecture Award should refer to 7.9 INTERNATIONAL AREA in the Awards Entry Handbook for full details. All enquiries should be directed to Peter Beratis ( tel: 03 8620 3861


Adrian Ashton Prize for architectural writing and criticism, sponsored by Bates Smart
The Adrian Ashton Prize is awarded annually to recognise an outstanding piece of architectural reporting and criticism, as part of the NSW Architecture Awards. Open to journalists, editors, authors, producers and others reporting on architecture and design in NSW, the prize recognises quality communication, public engagement and high-quality debate. SUBMISSIONS CURRENTLY CLOSED 

David Lindner Prize 

This prize is named in memory of the architect David Lindner who disappeared whilst travelling in Iran in 1993. Initiated by David Lindner’s family as a means to honour his memory, this prize aims to inspire graduates and emerging architects to engage in important and challenging design issues involving the public realm through a funded body of research.

Nominees can either self-nominate or be nominated by a third party. The winning proposal will be announced at the annual NSW Architecture Awards and awarded funding of $5,000 towards carrying out the research. The proposal will be published in the Architecture Bulletin and featured in a public exhibition. 2017 SUBMISSIONS NOW OPEN!

Emerging Architect Prize – sponsored by AWS
The Emerging Architects Prize recognises an emerging architect or architectural collaboration’s contribution to architectural practice, education, design excellence and community involvement that advances the profession’s standing in the public arena. The Emerging Architects Prize is an initiative of the Emerging Architects and Graduates Network (EmAGN).

Nominees can either be put themselves forward with a self-nomination, or can be a nomination made by a member of the Australian Institute of Architects. 2017 NSW NOMINATIONS ARE NOW CLOSED. 

Marion Mahony Griffin Prize – sponsored by Bespoke
Named for the pioneering woman architect, Marion Mahony Griffin, this prize was established to acknowledge a distinctive body of work by a female architect, be it for their contribution to: architectural education; journalism; research; theory; professional practice; or built architectural work. 2017 NSW NOMINATIONS ARE NOW CLOSED. 


The following Prizes are selected from all eligible entrants to the main Awards program, and no separate entry or nomination is required.

City of Sydney Lord Mayor’s Prize for Design Excellence
The City of Sydney Lord Mayor’s Prize is awarded to a project that improves the quality of the public domain through architectural or urban design excellence. The project is to be located within the City of Sydney local government area, and may be for or include public art. The project team should include a member of the Australian Institute of Architects. A shortlist is to be compiled from entrants in the NSW Architecture Awards by the City of Sydney Council’s Director of City Planning, Development and Transport. Eligible entries can be from all categories, except single residential dwelling houses and residential alterations and additions. The Lord Mayor selects the winner from the shortlist.

Blacket Prize
This regional prize is awarded to a project situated in the area encompassed by the Newcastle & Country Divisions. It is judged by Jury Chairs in consultation with Country and Newcastle Division Committee Chairs.

NSW President’s Prize
This prize is awarded at the discretion of the NSW Chapter President and is given to an individual who has made a substantial contribution to the profession of architecture

NSW Premier’s Prize
This prize is awarded by the NSW Premier from a shortlist of projects selected by the NSW Government Architect which are of benefit to the people of NSW – whether they be educational, cultural, transport or accommodation facilities.