House at Hanging Rock, Kerstin Thompson Architects
photo: Trevor Mein

Awards in Victoria

The Australian Institute of Architects' Architecture Awards program is a National Awards program. In the first instance, entries are submitted and judged in each State and Territory. The State level winners of named awards and architecture awards progress to become the national pool of entries for the Institute's National Architecture Awards.

Three tiers of recognition are given in each State and also at National level.

Named Awards

The highest accolade awarded in each category is a 'named award'. Each 'named award' bears the name of an architect whose contribution in a specialist area is still highly regarded. There is only one 'named award' in each category in any year at State level and only one 'named award' in each category in any year at National level.

Architecture Awards

Architecture Awards are awarded in each category to projects of excellence which demonstrate consummate architectural skill and contribute to the advancement of architecture in Victoria. More than one Architecture Award may be given in each category in any year at State and National level.

Commendations

Commendations are awarded in each category to projects of special merit which demonstrate significant architectural skill. More than one Commendation may be given in each category in any year at State and National level.

Named Awards in Victoria

The HAROLD DESBROWE-ANNEAR Award                 Category: Residential Houses - New
The career of Harold Desbrowe Annear (1865-1933) in the late 19th century and early decades of the 20th century epitomised much that is desirable in the residential work of this country - a keen appreciation of local conditions, a firm commitment to quality in design and execution and a poetic vision of the future and its possibilities. Desbrowe-Annear is remembered as one of those who consistently sought to advance the art of architecture and the standing of architects. Desbrowe-Annear's Chadwick House is one of the most important homes in the history of 20th century Australian architecture.

The JOHN and PHYLLIS MURPHY Award                   Category: Residential Architecture – Alts & Adds
John Murphy (1920-2004) and Phyllis (1924 - ) Slater married and formed an architectural partnership that endured until their retirement in 1982. In conjunction with Peter McIntyre, Kevin Borland and engineer Bill Irwin, the Murphys submitted the winning 1952 design for the Melbourne Olympic Swimming Stadium which became a key example of post war structuralist architecture in Australia and the only remaining sporting stadia of the 1956 Games. Much of the early work of the Murphy’s practice was founded upon their domestic output. The Murphy’s experimented with open plans complimented by outdoor living spaces, glazed north facing living areas, cantilevered balconies, sculptural fireplaces and the use of new materials. The Murphys were also involved in the new style O-Y-O housing developments on land reclaimed by the Housing Commission of Victoria, such as Hotham Gardens flats, North Melbourne (1958). In the mid-1960s the Murphys became involved in the establishment of the National Trust of Victoria, helping to save many buildings public and private. 

The BEST OVEREND Award                                     Category: Residential Architecture – Multiple Housing
Acheson Best Overend (1909-77) was one of Australia's first architects to be truly committed to modernism. An adventurer and charismatic figure, he travelled widely through-out Europe and Asia visiting the 1937 Paris Exposition, working on the interiors of the new BBC headquarters in London and skyscraper apartments in Shanghai. From 1934, he regularly wrote for The Argus in the service of modernism and when appointed to the Housing Commission of Victoria Architect's Panel (1938-55) he was a vocal advocate for prefabrication. Overend's well-known 1936 'Cairo Flats' remains an important early example of modernist functionalism.

The WILLIAM WARDELL Award                                Category: Public Architecture
William Wardell (1823-99) was the head of the Victorian Public works department through its heyday: 1872-76. He left his mark on the public buildings of almost every town in Victoria. Wardell was also one of the key private architectural practitioners in Australia in the 19th century with an unsurpassed reputation in ecclesiastical design. Government House is one of Wardell's noted buildings and with its classically detailed tower, provides an important landmark in the city's skyline south of the Yarra River.

The HENRY BASTOW Award                                      Category: Educational Architecture
Henry Bastow (1839 – 1920) was Victorian Architect and Surveyor for the Victorian State Schools Division, and guided major Victorian education infrastructure development until 1894. In his time with the Division, he designed more than 900 school buildings. Bastow created templates for various sized buildings and adapted each to meet the specific environmental needs of the individual schools, allowing him to build 600 of them in just 5 years. An example of one of his schools includes the Prahran South State School, now Stonnington Primary School, displaying the eclectic asymmetry that became a signature of his style.

The SIR OSBORN McCUTCHEON Award                  Category: Commercial Architecture
Sir Osborn McCutcheon (1899-1981) was one of Victoria's great 20th-century architects who rose to early prominence as a partner at Bates Smart McCutcheon. He remained at the pinnacle of the profession until his retirement. McCutcheon was respected as an architect of great substance; a champion of modernism and the head of Melbourne's longest lived architectural firm. One of his noted buildings is Wilson Hall at the University of Melbourne.

The JOHN GEORGE KNIGHT Award                           Category: Heritage Architecture
John George Knight (1824-92) was a London born architect who became a prominent member of Melbourne's nineteenth century architectural profession. Knight was devoted to the study of materials, workmanship and fine design. He was admired for his common sense and resource and was particularly renowned as an authority on building stones. Parliament House is one of his buildings which epitomises the lofty ideals of nineteenth century civic architecture.

The KEVIN BORLAND Award                                      Category: Small Project Architecture
Kevin Borland (1926-2000) was an important Australian architect in the decades following WWII and is widely acknowledged as shaping the 'trajectory of Melbourne architecture'. However, his contribution was not limited to the design output of his practice, Borland was also a generous supporter of younger architects and an inspirational design studio teacher. Borland was involved in producing innovative and experimental works alone in in collaboration, many of which remain significant and influential examples of modernism: Rice House (1954), Olympic Swimming Stadium (1956), Preshil Junior School Hall (1962) and Harold Holt Memorial Swim Centre (1969) one of the earliest and most notable examples of the Brutalist Style in Victoria.

The JOSEPH REED Award                                          Category: Urban Design
Joseph Reed (1822-90) was an accomplished and eclectic architect with an aptitude for skilful picturesque composition in virtually every stylistic idiom. Reed arrived in 1853 during the gold rush era and quickly established a successful and enduring architectural practice which in 1862 became Reed & Barnes. Reed was responsible for some of the largest and most important buildings in the city and was thus instrumental in making Melbourne one of the great Victorian cities of the 19th century. Reed's designs include the State Library of Victoria (1854), St Michael's Church, Collins Street (1867) and the Royal Exhibition Building (1880).

The MARION MAHONY Award                                     Category: Interior Architecture
Marion Mahony (1871-1961) trained in the office of Frank Lloyd Wright, becoming responsible for Wright's interior design and furnishing. Mahony was extraordinary in her ability to evolve and resolve complex designs and decorative schemes and to express these clearly and beautifully through her exquisite drafting. As the wife and partner of Walter Burley Griffin and head of his Sydney office she played a vital role in the evolution of many of the firm's major designs in Australia. The Capital Theatre in Melbourne is a noted piece of Mahony's work which is a crowning architectural achievement.

The ALLAN and BETH COLDICUTT Award                   Category: Sustainable Architecture
Allan and Beth Coldicutt were pioneers in the development of research into energy efficient design and courses in the environmental sciences as lecturers at the University of Melbourne, in the late 1960s-70s. The Coldicutts' research identified user behaviour as an important factor in the thermal behaviour of buildings. Their TEMPAL sourcebook (1985) provided a significant resource for estimating heating & cooling loads and simulated internal temperatures with and without heating/cooling over specific periods using CSIRO solar tables and decades of hourly climatic data.

Victorian Specific Awards

The Melbourne Prize

The Melbourne Prize is awarded for projects that have made a significant and unique contribution to the city of Melbourne. Projects will exhibit a level of significance, innovation and expression that make a substantial contribution to Melbourne's cultural, civic and communal realms, and are likely to do so for decades to come.

Projects considered for this prize will have made their contribution to the public realm by means of built form, urban design solution or may be an initiative that has influenced and improved the fabric of Victoria's capital city.

Projects must be located within the Melbourne Urban Growth Boundary to be eligible for this Prize. The Melbourne Prize is a state specific award which does not progress to National Award level.

The Regional Prize

The Regional Prize is awarded for projects that have made a significant and unique contribution to Regional Victoria by means of a built form, an urban design solution or be an initiative that has influenced and improved the fabric of the region.

Projects located outside Melbourne's Urban Growth Boundary are eligible to be considered for this prize. The Regional Prize is a Victorian specific award and does not progress to the National Awards.

Victorian Architecture Medal

The Victorian Architecture Medal is a descendant of the Victorian Street Architecture Medal introduced in 1926 by The Royal Victorian Institute of Architects (RVIA) as an award for the design of a building of exceptional merit.

At that time, buildings were judged on their urban propriety and architectural etiquette; the building had to front a street, road, square or court to which the public had access and it was expected to have a civic character, offering its architectural qualities to the greater public realm of the city.

Today's Victorian Architecture Medal is awarded annually and is selected by the Jury Chairs from the field of Named Award winners, the top award in each category. The criteria for selection of the Victorian Architecture Medal reflects the sentiment expressed by the original Victorian Street Architecture Medal for which a buildings relationship and contribution to the public realm was a strong consideration.

The 2017 Victorian Architecture Awards