Coffs Coast projects compete for architectural excellence awards

Australian Institute of Architects Media Release- 11 September 2018

A diverse mix of public projects on Coffs Coast that showcase outstanding architectural design practice are competing for honours in this year’s coveted Australian Institute of Architects’ NSW Country Division Awards, which celebrate the best in architecture from across country NSW.

‘This year’s entries in the NSW Country Awards, which have been running for more than half a century now, ranged from finely crafted small scale projects to large, complex commercial and public buildings,’ said Ashley Dunn, Jury Chair and co-director of Dunn & Hillam Architects.

Sawtell Surf Life Saving Club Refurbishment by Fisher Design and Architecture presented the opportunity to provide much needed revitalisation of the existing site and surf club building, and transform it to create a landmark beachside destination with an iconic public building which celebrates local history, and contributes to its users safety, health, happiness, and wellbeing. The design’s vision is to revitalise the existing Surf Life Saving Club with economy and creativity, establishing a community facility of outstanding design and visual amenity, with inspiring spaces inside and out that are engaging, and provide a positive beachside environment for current and future generations.

Jettys4Shore Revitalisation Project by Fisher Design and Architecture with Mackenzie Pronk Architects and Coffs Harbour City Council is the result of collaboration with local design professionals, artists and the community. A precinct rich in local history and highly valued by residents and tourists, the precinct has been revitalised through integrating landscape, art and built form to create places for people to live and engage with each other. The design features new picnic shelters, a Stage located around the Market Area reflecting the ‘flight of the Wedge-tailed shearwater’, and refurbishment of existing amenities. The new structures are designed with a robust palette of galvanized steel, brightly coloured soffits, and large sectioned timber screening with inscribed images of marine life.

Jetty4Shores Stage by Fisher Design and Architecture with Mackenzie Pronk Architects and Coffs Harbour City Council is a new public performance facility and key component of the Coffs Harbour Jetty4Shores Revitalisation Project. Providing a ‘special place’ for small events and concerts, the two stage structure is designed with flexibility to be dual sided and allow for a range of outdoor professional and community performances. Reflecting the ‘flight of the wedge-tailed shearwater’ the structure is dynamic in form yet built from a simple robust materials palette which responds to the coastal environment and the site’s history, and connects with neighbouring structures and shelters.

Integrating landscape, art and built form, the Stage is lined with timber panelling which provides a richness in texture and colour, and features an artwork by a local school.

C.A.L.M. by Dominic Finlay Jones Architects is an ‘Integrated Council/Arts Hub’ gathering together the gallery, museum and library under the same roof as Council itself in an ambitious civic development. An internal verandah, overlooking a light-filled double-height public atrium, is used to access these services, encouraging incidental exposure to the experiences each institution has to offer. More specialised, secure areas requiring stricter climate control are pushed deeper into the building, hidden behind high thermal mass walls of concrete and local rammed earth. The atrium’s timber canopy roof is the ‘power plant’ of the building, with a network of photovoltaic cells providing power and dappled light to the space below, reminiscent of the Coffs Creek Mangroves. While the building is designed to be an efficient and relatively low-cost structure, a higher concentration of the budget is attributed the gallery, singling it out as the icon of the project.

NSW Chapter President, Andrew Nimmo, said: ‘Across NSW our distinctive coastal and country landscapes provide challenges but also endless opportunities for truly inspiring architectural design. This year’s award entries demonstrate highly attentive responses to landscape as well as innovation and excellence in creative solutions achieved in many cases within constrained budgets.

‘The NSW Country Division Awards showcase architectural skill of the highest order, reminding us that design excellence is flourishing in rural and regional NSW, delivering built environments characterised by nuanced aesthetics and a commitment to sustainability.’

‘It was an honour to be invited to chair this jury and a clear reminder of the extraordinary talent in our profession right across the state,’ added Mr Dunn. ‘The Jury had a tough but enjoyable challenge deliberating over the many high calibre entries.’

These projects are among 28 competing in 12 award categories, including newly introduced categories for Interior Architecture, Urban Design and Educational Architecture. Winners of 11 categories will be decided by a panel of expert judges Alex Dalglish (Somewhere Landscape Architects), Peter Freeman (Peter Freeman Conservation Architects), Oliver Gee (G2 Architects) and Isabelle Toland (Aileen Sage Architects).

The final category is to be decided by members of the public who can show their support for a local, or favourite, project by voting in the People’s Choice Award before midday on Thursday 4 October.

The award winners will be announced at the awards presentation night to be held as part of the NSW Country Division’s Annual Conference on 4 October 2018.

Since its inception in 1960, the NSW Country Division has provided continuous representation and service to NSW regional architects of the Australian Institute of Architects outside the metropolitan areas of Sydney and Newcastle.