2014 winners

Since 1985 this prize has recognised outstanding works of design by architecture students across Australia. \The competition represents the profession’s recognition of quality in design by students of architecture. It acknowledges outstanding design work and communicates this quality to both students and the profession. Established by the Australian Institute of Architects and sponsored since its inception by COLORBOND® steel, the competition celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2010

The2014 jury appraised 66 schemes from architectural students from all over Australia.

10 student projects were shortlisted and from these, three awards were made.

The shortlist was as follows:

Jessica Chidester [re]activating pivotal moments….
Ben Juckes A Funerary Paradigm
Doug McNamara Community Grain
Alan Lau The invisible city
Bernadette Zajd Art and the tower
Bianca Nasato Green Square Library and Plaza
Chris Yandle Kissing Point Tower
James Harbard Delirious Karratha
Steani Cilliers The Faculty of Food
Vivian Johnny & Alan Lau Slaughtered in Melbourne


The Jury was impressed with the high quality of the student works submitted for the 2014 Colorbond Steel Student Biennale and particularly the 10 shortlisted submissions which were all worthy contenders for the prize. The work submitted overall shows commendable maturity with commensurately high presentation standards.

The jury welcomed the strong theme in much of the work submitted where students demonstrated a well developed ability to create a unique experience of and connection to place. Excellent work was seen from students in both undergraduate and masters degree programs. Those in earlier years who might not have been shortlisted are encouraged to maintain their interest in this student biennale.

Jury Members

Associate Professor Diego Ramirez-Lovering Aff RAIA Chair, Head of Department, Monash University
Richard Johnson MBE LFRAIA, 2011 Gold Medalist, Johnson Pilton Walker
Elizabeth Watson-Brown LFRAIA , Architectus
Barnaby Hartford-Davis SONA Vice President


jchidester-bioJessica Chidester,
RMIT University Victoria

Project Summary

[re]activating pivotal moments….. seeks to explore strategies and criteria to stimulate and reinvigorate a difficult, isolated and forgotten part of Melbourne’s CBD toward a ‘Difficult Whole’. The site consisted of two existing built structure, The Mission to Seafarers and adjacent was the North Wharf Shed #5 which aligned its south facing façade to the banks of the Yarra River. ‘If we consider Benjamin Constant’s assertion that in the modern polis it is in private rather than public that freedom and fulfilment are to be experienced, or Walter Benjamin’s declaration that it is in the 1830’s that the ‘private citizen’ appears, it seems that this recasting of concepts of public and private is integral to the metropolis itself, that the modern city’s emergence transformed a dichotomous and hierarchical relationship between public and private into a close and mutually implicating association between the intimate and the social’.i Viewing the site as a ‘city within a city’, investigations were undertaken at three scales; the urban fabric, architectural tectonic and communities interaction. The architectural implications and relationships between space and tectonics were examined through a set of semi-autonomous systems. Existing structures v’s new architecture, hinge moments juxtaposed and arrayed across the site at varying scales, surrounding context along with vertical v’s horizontal connections and finally spatial and material experiences. Spatial moves were curated and woven throughout the site. Blending new architecture with existing built fabric, new networks and programmatic opportunities of gathering and meeting moments were established – creating a sense of place. Thus a new flexibility between what we perceive to be intimate and social – anew flexibility for the ‘private citizen’. i Di Palma, V., Intimate Metropolis

Jury Citation

A very sophisticated and intelligent response to a very difficult urban problem of disjunction. The project acts as a type of microcosm of the dynamism of the city being brought to the river edge. Complexity is very well handled without a reliance on hysteria. It not only accentuates the existing context but also skilfully creates opportunities for experiencing new forms of urbanity. Creating a framework for within which people can experience their own desires and emotions. Demonstrates a skill that has been lacking in increasingly denser urban environments- ie capacity to integrate rather than obliterate the existing grain of the city. It celebrates, enjoys and accentuates the realities of the city. The project understands and celebrates the way in which citizens want to use the city in a fluid and liberated manner. It is fundamentally democratic. Good programming of existing infrastructure, offering a series of surprises and special places through a process of conjunction and disjunction Very good example of making good people places from industrial spaces. Fragmenting and mixing industrial remnants into very doable, credible places Demonstrates good understanding of how architecture works technically and socially.


bjuckes-bioBen Juckes,
University of Western Australia

“A Funerary Paradigm”

Project Description

A cemetery contains within its boundary an historical model of our society, reflecting each era, its culture, achievements and understandings.

The current typology of the cemetery is rapidly becoming inefficient and unable to keep up with the urbanisation and densification of cities. Perth is proving no exception; its current cemeteries are limited by their surroundings unable to expand. The city must now plan its future cemeteries with the opportunity to rethink its funerary paradigm.

This new paradigm will describe future possibilities for repose and remembrance by reflecting on and addressing societal, cultural and ecological trends and issues.

The paradigm will be developed over two stages

Stage one: the ‘Future – Present’

Responds to the deep cultural and spiritual need for remembrance, maintaining the ritualistic and processional values of the ceremonies associated with death, whilst also considering the current urban, ecological and cultural issues of burial space shortages and water shortages. A new concept of information preservation is introduced. Societal shifts towards increased digitalization allows for the reconstruction of our ‘digital lives’ to shape the way we are remembered after death.

Stage two: the ‘Future – Future’,

Ensuring the cemetery continues as a location for remembrance once it has reached full capacity circa 2050, at a point in time where the difference between the real and the digital is diminishing. It employs design speculation as a critical tool to explore the potential ways in which the cemetery is shaped by our ever-evolving city, social values and digitisation.

The outcomes maintain the ceremonies and rituals society requires to honour the dead, enhance remembrance; and create a symbolic and practical unification with ecological needs – finally the cemetery comes to reflect the cycles of change, adaption and understanding that shape society.

Jury Citation

The strength of the project lies in its atmospheric, tectonic and material qualities demonstrated through very skilled and powerful representations. The project is structured around a procession of experience, building up an architectural narrative out of ritual. The project rigorously negotiates notions of the contemporary cemetery with changing notions of death and sustainable development in a coastal ecosystem.

The project boldly engages with a language of abstract monumentality, providing a contemporary interpretation of a timeless paradigm of death- a contemporary temple to death.

The project provides a powerful tension between anonymity, personal and collective experiences. The architecture invites the viewer to partake in a journey of discovery, slowly revealing the layers, intricacies and complexities of death. This slow peeling of architectural layers is further enhanced by the representation of the proposal which unfolds over time under the spectators examination.

dmcnamara_bioDoug McNamara,
University of Newcastle

“Community Grain”

Project Description

Based around the communal atmosphere generated at harvest time, Community Grain is the exploration of the relationship between the grain, the farmer and the community. The scheme embodies the true meaning of community in order to create stronger, more resilient rural economies for the purpose of sustaining and securing rural Australian culture and industry.

The farmer co-op building is the representation of one element in a larger master-planning scheme for the regional township of Young, NSW. The interconnected relationship of learning, industrial and consumption programs within the site provide a meeting place for the purpose of knowledge and information sharing. The site is a mix of industrial and public programs separated and connected at various moments of the design to create an interactive and enriching place of spaces.

Design inspiration is drawn from culturally iconic Australia, the Sunshine Harvester and the haphazard farmer/builder and draws on farmyard materiality. Earth, steel and timber provide an eclectic palette of building materials salvaged from the aging rough sawn timber and galvanized steel sheds that previously occupied the site.

Fundamental elements of void, passage and level of privacy are imbedded in the design used primarily to increase public interaction and observation whilst furniture, architectural hardware, walls and structural components are designed with the intention to assist and encourage social participation and conversation. In this sense the purpose of architecture is to provide a platform for the establishment and growth of socially healthy, vibrant and economically viable rural communities.

Jury Citation

The project sets an ambitious and worthy example of revitalization, one done through the careful combination and rethinking of existing infrastructure and new programs addressing a very real social issue.

The project has a very deep understanding of the broader contexts in which it is located, the social and economic difficulties faced by rural Australia.

The building demonstrates a very good development of planning and the scale of place. There is sophistication in the way in which the project moves seamlessly across scales in a conceptually unified manner- from the scale of the urban context to that of the detail and tectonic.

The representation of the project is of great note, revealing the depth of investigation and mastery of the architectural subject matter.

alau-bioAlan Lau,

The invisible city

Project Description

The invisible city investigates the idea of creating territories without the reliance on physical visible elements. A flower belt defines the edge of the built-up area of Melbourne and promotes environmental and social sustainability by becoming an infrastructure that helps connect rural suburbs and various attractions divided by highways and rivers, encouraging walking and cycling as an alternative transport. Embracing the landscape and weaving between the green wedges and built-up areas, this new infrastructure also works as a firebreak during a bush fire attack.

Smell becomes the primary sense to give identity and shape this new territory. To capture this smell, floral water are extracted from native flowers in ‘perfume’ factories. Planted according to their blooming seasons in a strip around Melbourne’s green wedges, the flowers are then harvested by farmers moving along the belt throughout the year to complete the cycle.

Floral water are distributed to the local suburb residents’ backyards via waterworks. Sprinklers then release the floral water simultaneously at times across the year for thirty minute, filling the entire suburb with an identical smell. The ‘Invisible City’ thus emerges from everyday backyard sprinklers.

The phenomenon of this annual event is celebrated to help build a stronger identity for communities on the ill defined edges of the Australia city without the need of physical structures and substantial built form. The proposal is underpinned by the scientific and qualitative research and precise calculations that demonstrate how the flower belt can be a self-sustaining and contributory environment

Jury Citation

The project presents a unique and memorable contribution to the suburban fringe sustainability debate. While the project is based on highly ephemeral landscape interventions, the project is able to demonstrate the power and influence of this type of thinking across broad urban territories. Of particular note are the project’s highly systemic conceptual armature and its idiosyncratic representational techniques combining collage, ideograms and conceptual models

bzajd-bioBernadette Zjad,

Art and the tower

Project Description

Art and the Tower, a new art school for the VCA, invites the city into the campus and allows the art to spill over into the street.

Situated along Melbourne’s cultural spine, the architecture as a whole is a public statement, a sign for the aspirations of the art school.

Then, as fragments across the site, the role of the buildings shift between didactic, prompting and receding into backdrops for the production of art and life of the people using it. The clash of architectural ideas and influences allude to the chaotic and messy nature of an art school. Remnants from the site’s industrial past have been kept. The existing brick factory walls border the site like a stage set, the new buildings are slightly offset behind. The buildings have a robustness which align them more closely to a factory for production than a revered art institution. The materials are not neutral – the off-white paintwork is roughly rendered, a contrast to the traditional white walls of an art gallery. The intricate tile patterns are purposely incomplete. The rawness and intentional incompleteness of the architecture sits in contrast to the quiet refinement of the commercial residential tower and car-park which share the site. Art and commerce are inextricably linked, and this commercial interruption to the fantastic notion of an art school is accepted as a necessary compromise in the contemporary city. The art school buildings generate a rich dialogue between themselves, and at the same time, they open up and engage with the city. The cloister becomes the market.

Jury Citation

In her scheme for the new VCA art school in Melbourne, Bernadette Zajd has created a robust yet playful place of possibility.Rendered with a conscious naïveté, the scheme is a sophisticated architectural and social conception.Abstracted fragments of the city appear to float in public space which folds up, over and into the built forms.

The architecture is itself accessible and habitable art available to all.Here artists and citizens can mix and can inhabit the places and spaces as they wish.Art, life and the city are a continuum, all elements accessible and in a rich dialogue.There is a delightful ambiguity about the programme and purpose of the collected architectural objects and spaces, suggesting and inspiring myriad activities and uses limited only by imagination.

bnastato-bioBianca Nasato,

Green Square Library and Plaza

Project Description

The Green Square precinct as well as the library program are both in states of transition as they engage with the ‘in-between’, continually shifting in scale and use. An intensive mapping process studied the ongoing growth of Green Square which has led to unconventional urban situations and spatial types. The design explores the varied scales of grain and use throughout Green Square and the tensions they form when in close proximity. Mapping as an act of description has become the proposal, and is used to help address the 21stC public library’s challenge to balance both communal and individual activities. The edge is re-explored as a state of in-between, heightened by a central ramp following the site’s water movement and terrain, allowing the passer-by to experience the library’s changing use, scale and intimacy. The bookshelf is lined against the ramp, allowing the pedestrian both within and outside the building to move along this key axis. The external pedestrian is within and between the bookshelves without physically being inside. Externally this is expressed via a precast concrete sculptural reference to the negative space of bookshelves inspired by Rachel Whiteread. The bookshelf opens out to two different grains of spaces allowing for a variety or reading and learning areas. The undulating wall and geometric form amplifies the site’s unique edge conditions as the overhangs, indents and corners begin to form places of ‘refuge’ both internally and externally. Intimate seating decks lie within raised garden beds to create intimate zones within the public plaza itself whilst continuing to follow the grain of the design.

Jury Citation

This project for a library in Green Square evolves from a mature understanding of the urban context and its current state of transition.

Mapping pathways and movement both pedestrian and water, inspire the proposition for a 21st Century library along a linear spine that balances both communal and individual activities.

The project inventively blurs the boundaries between internal and external space, and is presented with admirable clarity and simplicity

cyandle-bioChris Yandle,

Kissing Point Tower

Project Description

A challenge to density. A the macro, it prioritizes urban densification, regeneration and use of existing infrastructures over urban sprawl by proposing an increased density, whilst not compromising overshadowing and context. At the micro, loft apartments remove the need for access hallways on every second level increasing usable FSR.

A challenge program. Traditional aspects of theatre which are housed internally are extracted to activate the ground plane and public space, opening its use for all to use and enjoy, whilst increasing its exposure for future owners. Multiple programs interact, converge, cross pollinate to create a vibrant proposal which maximises all hours of the day and night.

An integrated public domain. Careful consideration of context, scale, sunlight, overshadowing, color and texture situate a new density and form comfortably within the existing fabric, creating a new public space, activated from program from within.

A contextual development. It connects existing institutions and social policy with the proposed public private theatre. It proposes a high density to utalise the near central station.

Passive environmental principles. Implementation of low energy passive wind, solar and principles derive slender dual tower forms to improve livability, not to mention the social agendas.

Jury Citation

Kissing point tower is a considered, balanced approach to urban densification. It is constructed as a series of ‘challenges’ to problems of urban high rise residential development. Rightly, Kissing Point Tower challenges and reconfigures the metric of light, circulation, sustainability and human scale. The problems are mapped, resolved and integrated with an engaging urban domain that poses a clear solution for future liveable cities. Further, the jury commends Kissing Point Tower as achieving residential density without anonymity.

jharbard-bioJames Harbard,

Delirious Karratha

Project Description

Delirious Karratha addresses the irrationality of Karratha’s social situation created by its massive transient population by studying a series of buildings that subscribe to a highly unique formal vernacular that emerged in Karratha in the 1970s. The process borrowed language from a dated response to climate to identity a unique regional aesthetic for the town. It aims to produce a retroactive manifesto for what the town could be rather than wipe the slate clean as suggested in recent masterplans for the city.

The project proposes to begin to integrate the transient population into the broader community through a mixed use development in the town centre that binds residential and civic uses under a single dynamic roof, inspired by the existing industrial architecture. This is a counterpoint to the proposed masterplans which propose an even more pronounced separation of permanent and transient residents. As the mining reaches its inevitable end, the transient accommodation can be removed, leaving the community programme to expand into the void left behind, in view of creating a vital civic heart that supports Karratha’s proposed role as a future regional centre.

The project attempts to foster an understanding between the different people who use the city and create an understanding of the city itself. The result is one building which is both continuous and discontinuous, a micro expression of a fluctuating place of unusual interactions and differing ways of living and embraces the state of flux of both Karratha and its residents.

Jury Citation

James Harbord’s scheme imagines a viable integrated community in the mining town of Karratha.

The jury congratulates James for tackling a real and gritty contemporary Australian problem in an unglamorous context.

Addressing the issue of a transient population and how that population might be integrated into the broader community, the scheme proposes a mixed use development of residences and community facilities embedded right in the centre of town.  The clever design allows for change; the inevitable future beyond mining when the accommodation units can be removed leaving a viable and vibrant civic centre for this mooted future regional centre.

The unique and rather quirky architecture springs from prefabrication and mining construction materials and methodology  and a deep and well researched and explained local architectural language.

scilliers-bioSteani Cilliers,

The Faculty of Food

Project Description

The Faculty of Food is a result of recent scholarly interest into the revitalization of cities through the implementation of food centred spaces. This proposal presents an exploration of these ideas and their potential to reform the dilapidated city centre of Newcastle.

The Faculty of Food will be a holistic culinary training institute aligning itself with the ethos of the Slow Food movement. It will consist of research facilities, a communal cookhouse, specialtyfood stores, cafes, housing, a ceremony hall and communal produce gardens.

The agenda of the Faculty of Food will be to educate students, visitors and the public about the pleasures of gastronomy and conviviality, the preservation of local foods and traditions, and the benefits of living in a sustainable and dense city community.

The principals of the slow food movement informed the architectural framework, inspiring the use of natural and local materials to create vibrant and communal spaces within the city. The project explores the possibilities of brick; creating intimate and sensory spaces throughout the site that employ the tactile properties of the material to shape enclaves, laneways, courtyards and platforms, allowing people to explore and continuously re-discover the place.

This proposal is in opposition to the prevailing design of isolated shopping centres that have drained activity from the heart of Newcastle. By adopting urban design strategies of Gorden Cullen, Christopher Alexander, Christian Norberg-Schulz and Jane Jacobs, this project presents an architectural form that would both facilitate and celebrate the presence of food in the city.

Jury Citation

This project demonstrates as skillful understanding of place making in the city center of Newcastle.

It adopts urban design strategies, exploring the site plan and section to create a sequence of well – scaled vibrant community spaces.

The crisis tents well considered use of brick relates convincingly to the context, the existing urban scale and to the program.

Vivian-alanVivian Johnny & Alan Lau,

Slaughtered in Melbourne

Project Description

Wagyu Tower raises awareness of cattle being part of our community and where our food comes from by locating an abattoir and cattle hotel in Melbourne CBD.

It focuses on significant programs that respond to cattle’s behaviour that symbolises their importance and help demonstrate proper humane animal handling by referencing Temple Grandin’sanimal science theories.

Cattle are auctioned to diners and groomed in the cattle hotel with a variety of investments ranging from different housing environments, density, and leisure time to alcohol marinates that will affect their meat quality.

The tower references Louis Kahn’s served and servant spaces by locating structures and extensive vertical services on the exterior to create open environments for cattle. Automated conveyors help collect and feed packed meals to the cattle, hence reducing labour.

Thermomass concrete with louvered fins wraps the north end of the building to help regulate temperature for the cattle during different seasons.

Cattle consumption becomes sustainable by generating natural gas from methane collected from cattle’s waste in the power station above, producing six times the energy the tower consumes.

The outcome is a celebration of putting the pieces together, the British high tech tower accommodates industrial program and sits above a Brutalist slaughterhouse.  Raw concrete and galvanised steel mesh is used on the angular slaughterhouse, with a compassionate touch for the animal handling and educational facilities through the use of tensile fabric and curves, portraying the notion of “Nature is cruel but we do not have to be”.

Jury Citation

The project proposes a highly innovative shift to the abattoir typology, one that embraces increasing urban densities as well as a questioning of contemporary notions of humane animal slaughter. The resulting tower typology demonstrates a sophisticated manifestation of these ideas, one that uses the careful and thoughtful combinations of program to both dramatise and spatialise these ideas.