Friday, October 8, 2010

Sydney architects win at Think Brick Awards

Last night in the shadow of Australia’s architectural icon the Sydney Opera House, a host of designers, builders, landscapers and architects were recognised for their creative application and modern manipulation of man’s oldest building tool – clay bricks.

The gala event of over 150 guests was staged by Think Brick Australia, the representative body of the country’s clay brick and paving manufacturers, with the evening paying homage to the ‘best of brick’ used in many forms of modern Australian architecture.

Think Brick Australia launched its annual awards in 2006 to recognise the excellence and innovation of architects, designers and builders using brick in residential and commercial building projects. Two major accolades are announced on the evening – About Face, an invitation-only competition which challenges architects to ‘rethink brick’ and present original ways of using bricks in a contemporary environment, and the Horbury Hunt Award; recognising architectural innovation and brickwork in built projects and named in honour of renowned Australian architect John Horbury Hunt.

MC James O’Loghlin presided over this year’s Think Brick Awards, announcing this year’s winners of the course of the evening. The results of the Think Brick Awards 2010:

About Face 2010
Winner: Durbach Block Architects (Sydney) – Infinity House

About Face challenges invites architects to design a project within a specific design brief, and this year’s timely theme was ‘The Essential House’ – a small-scale residential project providing sufficient rooms in limited space.

Durbach Block Architects’ Infinity House is a figure of eight brick structure which fits comfortably inside the modest 215sqm lush garden leaving plenty of greenery to enjoy and a few hidden purposes for the modern family. The curved walls and arches allow the home to be integrated effortlessly in to its garden surroundings, and also provide the home-owner with an easily divided house that can be used as a rental income, can separate parents and their teenagers, or simply keep living areas and bedrooms in different areas of the home.

Highly commended:
NMBW Architecture Studio - Core House
Terroir - Prototype

Horbury Hunt Award 2010
Residential winner: Durbach Block Architects (Sydney) - Garden House

In the affluent, perfectly landscaped suburb of Bellevue Hill in Sydney, Durback Block Architects firm has crafted a Tuscan-style residence which invites the eye to appraise its delicately textured walls, clever ‘hovering’ structure, and stark design softened with organic elements and leafy surroundings. The exterior walls of the project have a lacy, woven-looking surface, which was achieved by tapping through the façade alignment, resulting in a handcrafted pattern of brick resembling a soft fabric veil across the front exterior.

The winning residential project captured the imagination of the judging panel, who said: “The Garden House displays a different use of brick that is well-controlled, but at the same time creates organic variation while maintaining the discipline of the wall.”

Highly commended:
Design King - Elizabeth Bay House

Commercial Architecture joint winners:
McBride Charles Ryan (Melbourne) - Fitzroy High School
Donovan Hill Architects (Brisbane)- AM60

So impressed were the judges by the calibre of design in the Commercial category, they awarded Donovan Hill Architects (AM60) and McBride Charles Ryan (Fitzroy High School) joint winner status.

The high rise commercial AM60 tower in downtown Brisbane is a pillar of masterful brickwork in a town with very few brick buildings remaining in its CBD. The front façade of the building features an intricate brick ‘open weave’ system which not only catches the eye and plays with patterns, but also acts as a substantial solar control method, letting Brisbane’s famously intense light in to the buildings windows but filtering out the harsh rays and protecting the glass-build boardrooms.

Fitzroy High School certainly doesn’t blend in to the background – coloured bricks have been used to reflect the surrounding Italianate architecture and the curved, smooth exterior of the main building resembles a wave of bricks flowing out from the original community structure. The project brief was to accommodate an additional 250 students and staff across three levels, and the architects thoughtfully approached this task by researching the suburb of Fitzroy, its history, and the importance of the school as a public marker for the local community.

Urban Design/Outdoor Spaces winner: Jane Irwin Landscape Architecture (Sydney) - Balfour Pocket Park

Balfour Street Pocket Park provides a Pedestrian Connection between Sydney’s inner west suburbs of Chippendale and Broadway. The public space, used as a community breakout area, has a rich material of brick, stone and concrete and uses clay bricks in a decorative medium to link in with the nearby brewery buildings, workers terraces and old factories that loom in the distance. The judging panel praised Balfour Pocket Park for being “more artwork than brick” and were impressed with the range of materials combined as a coherent whole.

Think Brick CEO Elizabeth McIntyre said: “Judging the Awards this year was incredibly difficult due to the exceptionally high standard of design demonstrated by all entrants. Think Brick Australia would like to congratulate all our winners and we are thrilled that these amazing building projects have brought to light just why brick is man’s best building material.”

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