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National Architecture Awards

The National Architecture Awards is an integrated, hierarchical program resulting in annual awards at National, Chapter (State and Territory) and, in some states, Regional levels. To enter the National Architecture Awards, Institute members are required to submit projects at the relevant Chapter or Regional level depending on the project’s location.

Entering the Awards

The 2019 Awards are closed for entries. The 2020 Awards Program will open from November 2019.See the Key Dates & Events page for all Chapter program dates.

Prior to commencing your entry, entrants are required to read the Awards, Prizes and Honours Policy, the Awards Terms and Conditions, and the Awards Entry Handbook. These documents can be found on the Important Documents page

Entry in the Australian Institute of Architects Architecture Awards Program is open to registered architects who are Institute members. See the Membership page for information on joining the Institute. A+ Members receive 10% discount on entry fees. 

Entries must be submitted in the state or territory in which the project is located. Questions relating to submissions should be directed to the relevant local Chapter.

National Architecture Awards Categories

Award categories 1 through to 12 are consistent across all state and territory Chapters, except where some Chapters have subcategories. Chapters may also include other Chapter-specific awards that are not part of the National Awards Program. These awards do not progress to the National Awards.

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, generally falling within BCA Class 1a and must be new builds. Projects with up to two self-contained dwellings may be entered in this category.
Category 4: Residential Architecture – Houses (Alterations & Additions)
Projects must be residential, 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 and comprise of, or include, two or more self-contained dwellings (whether or not the building includes uses for other purposes).
Category 6: Commercial Architecture
Projects in this category must be built primarily for commercial purposes, generally falling within BCA Classes 3b, 5, 6, 7 and 8.
Category 7: Heritage
This category is for any built conservation project or study developed in accordance with the Australian ICOMOS Burra Charter, or any adaptive reuse of a heritage structure.
Category 8: Interior Architecture
Projects in this category must be interior spaces and environments within a new building or the 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
Projects in this category will be those considered to be 'small' in terms of area or budget as determined by the Jury. Projects are recognised that have been constrained by space or cost restrictions, but have achieved a level of invention, creativity and craftsmanship beyond these constraints. This category can accommodate projects, typically projects in the public realm, which may be over-looked against larger scale projects in other categories or may be transient or experimental in nature, such as exhibition design, set design, playgrounds, architectural sculptures or installations that may or may not be able to be visited by the Jury. Projects of all functional types may be considered.
  • Residential projects are not eligible for this category. 
  • Projects concurrently entered into any other category are not eligible for this category. 
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).

Members are not able to enter this category directly. All Awards entries may be considered in this category. Entrants are required to provide information regarding the sustainable design of the project as part of the entry process.

Upon review of entries that provided a sustainability statement in their online submission, the relevant Jury will determine a shortlist of entries for consideration in this category. 

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.

Category 12: Enduring Architecture

Buildings of at least 25 years of age may be considered for this Award.

Buildings nominated need not be previous award winners but must be buildings of outstanding merit that, considered in a contemporary context, remain important as high quality works of architecture. Projects should be assessed in terms of national significance, technical advancement, innovation for its time, symbolic significance and/or creative leadership.

The project attribution and award citation must acknowledge the original architect(s), either individual or firm. It may also acknowledge subsequent work done by another architect in the conservation or maintenance of the original work.

However, this award category is designed to recognise the enduring features of the original work, not any substantial adaptive re-use, which should be considered under Category 7: HERITAGE.

Members are not able to enter this category directly. Projects considered in this category will be determined by the Chapter Committee and/or assembled jury tasked with judging this category.

The original architect or any third party (including non-members and non-architects) may recommend to the relevant jury projects for consideration in this category.

The jury may give an award where less than five nominations are received. It is not mandatory for the jury to give an award.

No more than one award is to be made annually at National level or by any Chapter. This award is not given at Region level.

No commendations are given in this category.

Category 13: International Architecture

Entries in this category must first be considered for International Chapter Architecture Awards and Commendations by the International Chapter Jury under the following categories.

  • Public Architecture
  • Educational Architecture
  • Residential Architecture - Houses (New)
  • Residential Architecture - Houses (Alterations and Additions)
  • Residential Architecture - Multiple Housing
  • Commercial Architecture
  • Heritage
  • Interior Architecture
  • Urban Design
  • Small Project Architecture

Please refer to the International Chapter Specific Requirements for more information.

Category A1: Colorbond® Award for Steel Architecture
This category recognises buildings in which steel products play a significant role in the architectural solution and which exemplify innovation in the use of steel products.

BlueScope Steel has the naming rights for this award, but use of BlueScope products, including Colorbond, is a criterion for selection or award. Jury consideration of entries in this category will include consultation with a nominated BlueScope representative at chapter and national levels. Projects may not be entered directly in this category. Nominees will be selected by the jury from all entries that submit a COLORBOND statement in each chapter.

Engineering, infrastructure and other non-building projects are not eligible for this category.

Architecture Awards – Region/State & National

Awards in each category are based on a three-tier system, in decreasing order of merit. Only State or Territory Named and Architecture Awards progress to be considered for a National Award.

Core Criteria

To ensure an equitable basis upon which entries can be judged, jury decisions are guided by a uniform set of criteria called the 'Core Criteria'.

The Core Criteria are as follows:

  • Conceptual framework: underlying principles, values, core ideas and philosophy
  • Public & cultural benefits: amenity and concepts contributing to the public domain
  • Relationship of built form to context: concepts engaged with new and pre-existing conditions
  • Program resolution: functional performance assessed against the brief
  • Integration of allied disciplines: contribution of others, including engineers, landscape architects, artists and other specialists to achieve the outcome
  • Cost/value outcome: effectiveness of decisions related to financial issues
  • Sustainability: benefit to the environment through design
  • Response to client & user needs: additional benefits interpreted from the brief, serving the client or users and the community.

Read the Awards, Prizes and Honours Policy for more information about the Awards Program.



1. CONTACT DETAILS: The first time you use the online entry system, it will prompt you to register as a User. Please note that the address entered here will receive the automated emails from the system to do with this entry and the online entry system (eg. notifications of entry submitted, payment pending, etc.). The contact for the project entry (whether an Institute Member or not) should register as the User, and also provide their details in the Contact Details section of the form. There will be another opportunity within the form to provide the Member’s email address for approval of the submission. If you have registered before in previous awards programs, you will not need to re-register. Please use your previous log in details. 

2. EMAIL ADDRESSES: Please refrain from providing generic email addresses for your entry (for example: admin@ or enquiries@, etc.). Communications often go missing if these inboxes are not well-monitored, so it is preferred if you provide a direct email address.

3. PHOTOGRAPHY: If you haven’t already, organise a photographer to take photos of your project straight away in order to avoid missing the submission deadline in your Chapter (check closing dates here). 

4. PROJECT ATTRIBUTION: Confirm the name of your project and practice attribution with all contributing authors before you begin your submission. 

5. DEADLINES: We are not accepting any late submissions for the 2018 Awards program, so familiarise yourself with all Chapter submission deadlines early and get started on your submission.

6. HERO IMAGE: Choose your hero image, and upload this first to the entry system. *NB: Your hero image should be landscape orientation, and will be used in all promotional material for your project.

7. NATIONAL JUDGING: National judging is based on online submission material. Do not rely on your presentation or site visit at State level, as the National Jury will only receive your online entry material submitted in the first stages of judging.

8. BROWSER: Do not use Internet Explorer to complete your submission, as it is no longer supported by Microsoft. Other browsers we recommend include Google Chrome, Safari, and Firefox. 


The structure and hierarchy of the National Architecture Awards process is outlined below:

  1. Entries are made via the online entry system at Regional/Chapter level (in NSW entries winning at regional level are invited to progress to Chapter level).
  2. Chapter Juries judge in each of their categories, and name Commendation, Architecture Award and Named Award winners.
  3. Entries winning Architecture Awards or Named Awards in the National Award Categories only progress to become the pool of entries at National level.
  4. The National Jury judges entries based on their online submission, and selects a National Shortlist. 
  5. National Commendations, National Awards and Named Awards are chosen from the nationally shortlisted entries.


It is important that you familiarise yourself with the National Awards Policy and Entry Handbook before starting your submission. There have been a few changes this year, including;

  • Entrants must be a financial Institute Member for the duration of the year in which the award is given
  • The International Chapter now offers the full suite of categories as per other Chapters
  • The use of Bluescope Steel products is a criterion for the COLORBOND Award for Steel Architecture 
  • Juries must determine a Named Award if there is one or more award given in a category


This year, we will have the facility for someone to submit the entry material on behalf of the member, and then send the entry for approval. If you are not the nominating member, but are providing all information and wish to remain the contact for the submission, please ensure that you put your own information and contact details in at the beginning of the registration process. You will have an opportunity to provide the Member’s details during the submission form, and they will be prompted to approve the submission once it is finalised.


Images will no longer be named automatically by the online entry system, so to ensure that appropriate credit is attached to your images, we ask that you please rename them in the following format before uploading them as part of your submission:

Entry ID_Project_Practice_Photographer_imagenumber.jpg. 

For example: 53-heritage_JonesResidence_ABCArch_XYZ Photographers_01.jpg

Entry  ID – This is assigned to your entry at the start of the submission process and contains a number and the category  tag. It is listed to the left of your entry name in ‘My entries’. 
If your Project or Practice names are particularly long, please abbreviate them to the most important/recognisable information and add ‘etal’ after this section in the file name. This will prevent the file name from becoming excessively long. 
For example: 53-heritage_JonesResidence_ABCArchetal_XYZ Photographers_01.jpg
*NB: It is imperative that your photographer is credited in your image file name, otherwise they may not be appropriately credited in promotional materials.


Copyright and consent forms are now to be filled out and uploaded as part of your entry. Therefore, it is important that you have confirmed the project attribution at the beginning of the process and ensured all authors have given you their consent.


Credit card payments will be accepted via the online entry system in the near future, and will incur a surcharge of 1.5% per transaction. Currently, the awards system is raising an invoice for you at the point of submission, and you have the option of direct deposit or credit card payment over the phone.


If you have any questions about entering a project into the 2019 National Architecture Awards, please contact your Chapter. Good luck with your submission, and we hope to see you at the upcoming Awards presentations for 2019.