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In July, winners of both the Victorian and New South Wales (NSW) Architecture Awards were announced by the Australian Institute of Architects.

Hosted by the Institute’s respective state chapters, the prestigious awards are a chance to celebrate the best of each states’ architecture across multiple categories including residential, commercial, heritage, education, sustainability and more.

Both awards presentations were livestreamed online – allowing the public to freely join what is normally a members-only event.

In NSW, the winners presentation was held on the evening of 3 July, with a total of 73 awards given, comprising named awards, architecture awards and commendations, across 13 categories.

A new category in this year’s program was the People’s Choice Awards For Life in 2020, which was created by the NSW Chapter in response to the ways COVID-19 has altered our relationship to housing, workplaces and the public domain.

“We were delighted with the number of entries we had for the People’s Choice Awards – which shows the public’s appetite for good design amongst the places we visit and inhabit,” says NSW Chapter President Kathlyn Loseby.

The Victorian Architecture Awards were held on the evening of 10 July, with a total of 63 awards presented across 15 categories.

This year’s winners list featured a number of revivals of heritage projects, as well as those that offer excellent design outcomes to the public.

“Outstanding design, as showcased by the projects recognised in these awards, is about much more than simple aesthetics. It is about creating resilient, sustainable and adaptive places, sensitive to their context that will be fit for purpose and serve our communities not just today, but for decades to come,” says Victorian Architecture Awards chair of juries Ingrid Bakker.

In celebration of this year’s awards, we’ve spotlighted four of the big winners across Victoria and NSW. The winning projects now progress to the National Architecture Awards to be held later in the year.

Chenchow Little

Chenchow Little is a Sydney-based practice, led by founding partners Tony Chenchow and Stephanie Little.

Over the past 25 years, Chenchow Little has worked predominantly on residential projects of varying scales – with three of its outstanding projects featured in this year’s NSW winners list.

Glebe House, which took out the Wilkinson Award for Residential Architecture – Houses (New), is a striking home elevated above a sandstone cliff in the Sydney suburb of Glebe.

As Chenchow explains, the central design brief for Glebe House was to increase the amount of space and light in the home.

“We realised that an upturned arch window would draw in light from the top of the wall while blocking views to the closely sited neighbouring dwellings – and these large openings became the defining feature of the home,” he says.

“We tailor each of our residential designs to the client’s brief and their particular site, so our approach and the resulting designs are quite unique. ”

Chenchow Little also received Architecture Awards for Redwood (Residential Architecture – Houses (Alterations and Additions)) and Waterloo Apartments (Residential Architecture – Multiple Housing).

Located on a steep site on Sydney Harbour, a major focus of the design at Redwood was the sequence of spaces from the street level to the living space several levels below. Chenchow Little’s addition wraps around two sides of the existing 1840s sandstone cottage at the site, with a form that reflects the shape of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

“We like the synergy of the design with the form of the Harbour Bridge, which dominates the view from the site. The design and its materiality is very timeless,” says Little.

Kerstin Thompson Architects

Kerstin Thompson Architects is a Melbourne-based studio, working across architecture, interiors, landscape and urban design.

Led by Kerstin Thompson, the practice has a focus on creating buildings that forge connections with their surroundings and the people who inhabit them.

In line with this commitment, Kerstin Thompson Architects’ Broadmeadows Town Hall project was one of the Victorian Architecture Award’s most celebrated – receiving the Victorian Architecture Medal, John George Knight Award for Heritage and a commendation for Public Architecture.

With careful attention given to preserving the building’s original character, Kerstin Thompson Architects has transformed the Broadmeadows Town Hall into a landmark contemporary facility.

As Thompson explains, the iconic building, fondly referred to as the Pink Elephant, is a repository of memory for the community in Broadmeadows.

“In life and in photos the town hall interior has functioned as background to decades of personal milestones and civic events: weddings, citizenship ceremonies, debutant balls, tango classes and basketball games, car club meets and so on,” she says.

“Our approach to its upgrade was to improve the building’s performance without diminishing its capacity to trigger memories of the past. The recent renovation re-instates its suburban-civic grandeur and transforms the space around it from sea of carpark to urban place.”

As one of only a handful of architects with winning projects across both the Victorian and NSW Architecture Awards, Kerstin Thompson Architects’ East Street home also received an Architecture Award for Residential Architecture – Houses (New) in the NSW awards.

Located on the outskirts of Albury, East Street is an environmentally responsive home that has been designed for all seasons and moods, allowing the owners to occupy the spaces in different ways throughout the year.

“The stepped floor in combination with the roof angle create living spaces that are shady in summer, sun-filled in winter and completed by magnificent views south towards Mt Huon,” says Thompson.


Sydney-based architectural studio CHROFI holds an international portfolio, including residential, public and commercial projects. Founded in 2000, CHROFI is headed by directors John Choi, Tai Ropiha and Steven Fighera.

In this year’s NSW Architecture Awards, the studio took home two accolades in the Small Projects category.

Marsden Park Amenities was presented with the Robert Woodward Award for Small Project Architecture, in recognition of the outstanding community outcomes the project has achieved in defining a public space within the new residential estate.

The multi-use community centre collects various community sports, recreation and amenity functions under one civic scale roof, serving as an anchor point for the new local community.

“Marsden Park Amenities appears to be one of the first public interventions in this new estate and therefore bore a heavy responsibility,” the awards jury citation states.

“Embracing the side of a main street with its flowering rosettes of columns, these amenities hold a sweeping, unifying, curving roof of suitable civic presence.”

Summer Place, commissioned by Murray Art Museum Albury (MAMA) and Albury City Council as part of MAMA’s yearly experimental architecture program, was also awarded a commendation.

The 1,440 square metre pavilion, composed of a grid of steel poles supporting a fine, canopy net, transforms

Albury’s QEII Square from a barren heatsink over the summer months into a cool, functional space for the public.

“By virtue of its scale and the new spatial qualities generated, the pavilion dramatically changes the nature of the square, encouraging visitors to consider the day- to-day use of the square and its development within the city,”says CHROFI architect and urban designer Joshua Zoeller.

While designed as a recreational space for the public, the project also carries a powerful environmental message – highlighting our collective vulnerability to heat and drought in Australia.

“The best projects have an ambition greater than themselves, and Summer Place reaches for that stretch goal; to act as a catalyst for something bigger; to make a great, green public square,” states the awards jury citation.

Lovell Chen

Led by practice director and founding principal Kai Chen, Lovell Chen is a multi-disciplinary architecture practice based in Melbourne.

Reflecting Lovell Chen’s expertise in heritage architecture, it was presented with a number of awards at this year’s Victorian Architecture Awards for its restoration and refurbishment of three iconic Melbourne buildings: Trades Hall, Regent Theatre and the University of Melbourne Old Quad.

“As always with complex historic buildings, there are many things to be taken into account when works are planned for them,” says Lovell Chen Principal Anne- Marie Treweeke.

“Each project brings a unique set of challenges to be resolved, and the solutions often involve peeling back the layers and changes to find the essential truth of the place that the original architect and artisans set in place – and using that to inform and generate the opportunities for conservation, adaptation and renewal.”

The restoration of Trades Hall received an Architecture Award for Heritage – Conservation, celebrating Lovell Chen’s ability to open up spaces in the building to the general public and better enable education of Victoria’s rich history of the Labour union movements.

“Our recent work at the Trades Hall is part of a wider scheme, and the primary idea of the whole project is to bring the community into the building and make it relevant, so it’s not just ‘locked up’ as a museum,” explains Senior Associate Stuart Hanafin.

Architecture Awards were also presented to the Regent Theatre for Heritage – Creative Adaptation, and the University of Melbourne Old Quad for Sustainable Architecture.

While the Regent Theatre was historically a cinema, Lovell Chen’s interventions at the building have focused on sustaining its future as a working venue for international-standard live theatre.

“For us, the success in this project was making substantial structural changes to the theatre to meet the operational requirements of a 21st Century theatrical production,” says Principal Milica Tumbas.