Friday, 18 November 2011

Project wins award for best apartment building

A project on which I worked over a number of years has recently won the Australian Institute of Architects highest award for multiresidential architecture.

The name architect is Candelapas Associates, already known for a number of previous awards for this building type. But the project is interesting for a much more complicated history than the conventional architectural attribution would tend to suggest.

My involvement began just after the preliminary development application for the site. That design had been prepared by an altogether different architecture firm, PTW Architects, more famous for the Watercube at the Beijing Olympics.  The scheme already contained most of the fundamental attributes for which it would be eventually recognised. But the development of the design was subject to critical re-evaluation of two amenity compliance issues which are characteristic of the residential flat development regulatory settings in Sydney — solar access and natural ventilation for apartments, and preserving solar access for its neighbours. That is why I was consulted.

Achieving the numbers required by SEPP65 and the Residential Flat Design Code often requires several reworkings of an initial concept. Much of that work was carried out by a small architectural practice Frost Architecture, which to the best of my memory had spun off from PTW. We went through at least three major variations of the original design, introducing innovative ways to tweak the apartment mix, and of some of the apartment types, before obtaining development approval.

Finally, the developer brought in Angelo Candelapas, with whom he had worked fruitfully on one of our previous projects. Angelo has a special touch, especially with the material palette. Almost as a last transformative gesture, we turned a number of the open verandas into wintergardens, offering the approving authority an appropriate description of their beneficial climate control performance, and achieving undoubted improvement of livability of the smallest apartments.

Hard work, often seemed like trying to deal with obstructions, but a lovely feeling when careful attention to the regulations intended to produce enhanced livability pays off.


Anonymous said...

The fact that this project won the Australian Institute of Architects highest award for multi-residential architecture really conveys such an important message to many architects out there that to create an award-winning design is way more about merely having unique building forms and structures that are one-of-a-kind and wows the public. It mainly should also be about paying close attention to codes and regulations that exist to enhance the quality of living in the first place; and not what many people assume of it- something that restricts designers’ creativity on site.
Too often as young blooming architects or designers, we tend to be pre-occupied with creating buildings/ designs that would stand out in every way, assuming that the outrageousness and the way our designs stand out from others are what it takes to make the building an award-winning masterpiece.
Codes and regulations are presumed to be obstructions to putting the designers’ creativity into a concrete reality piece. Not many are actually willing to go through the processes of re-working on the initial concept and not to mention, making changes to the original design in order to comply with the regulatory setting for fear that this could take up more time and cost than initially planned before the project could be completed. And most important of all for designers, it’s for fear that with these changes, the end-product will alter a great lot from what was initially thought of as the best solution for the site.

Below is a link that shows some opinions towards building regulations in other places.

Steve King said...

Thanks for that link. Fascinating examples. Really enjoyed reading the Guardian article, and I've bookmarked the blog!