Articles Grimshaw’s Monash University Woodside Building receives highest honour at Australian National Architecture Awards with Gunyama Park also awarded

Grimshaw’s Woodside Building for Technology and Design has been awarded Australia’s highest architectural honour: The Sir Zelman Cowen Award for Public Architecture at this year’s National Awards. The Woodside Building also received the David Oppenheim Award for Sustainable Architecture.

The 40th anniversary of the Australian Institute of Architects National Awards was held virtually, celebrating the most prestigious, peer-reviewed architecture that highlights the immense value architects add to their communities through truly exceptional design.

The jury singled out Woodside saying, “The universality provided to this building through structure, daylight and amenity, through order in the plan and poetry in the whole, brings to light the architectural discipline like no other building noted by the jury this year.”

“In all great works of architecture, the structure and the uses, the architecture and the senses, the space and its composition have a proclivity toward a deeper understanding of the way a perfect form can develop one’s consciousness about universal values in nature. The form in many of the great buildings seeks such a oneness with internal alignments and considered structural rhythms.

“Buildings can become assets to society through their adherence to something simple and apprehensible but also something profound and intangible. It is for this reason that the jury unanimously promoted this work to be a work of public status. For this work is indeed a very public building with universal reach.”

From a sustainability perspective, the jury recognised “The passive design strategy shapes the architecture to showcase the performance-based approach and to provide unique learning opportunities. Currently the largest Passive House-certified project in the southern hemisphere, the building has established a pathway for Monash to achieve net-zero carbon by 2030. Its tight thermal skin of clear, high-performance glazing, combined with whole-house mechanical ventilation with heat recovery, are key Passive House principles to even out indoor temperature and lower energy consumption. The building is 100 percent electrically powered, providing 60 percent of its own power through solar panels. Water is collected and re-used as grey water on site.

“The scale and complexity of the volumes necessitated fire protection and the steel framing is celebrated with signature rose-red “San Franciso Bay” intumescent paint. The apparent simplicity of the structure and services is evidence of a meticulous design process. Monash Woodside Building for Technology is the work of successful collaborations between architect, client, engineers, academics and industry, epitomizing immersive learning.

Gunyama Park Aquatic and Recreation Centre was also awarded the National Award for Public Architecture at this year’s awards. A partnership between Andrew Burges Architects, Grimshaw and TCL in collaboration with the City of Sydney, the jury’s citation notes how the design provides a new awareness of how these important public rooms have raised our sense of communal self, giving us the opportunity to engage with one another in playful and uninhibited structural and architectural space.

“This is a playful work that inspires a consideration of how the enjoyment of water-based environments has developed the psyche of an entire culture. The work represents a significant departure from the now-familiar utilitarian approach to enclosed pool environments in New South Wales, prompting a nuanced conversation about how the indoor pool can provide a community room in which there can be architectural expression.

“The work is accomplished in delivering a familiar program in a new way, with the architectural expression itself reflecting the ethos of the project. Architecture, in the eyes of this architectural team, has been prioritized in the form of certain exaggerated formal propositions, such as the grand pergola, which acts as an ‘urban gesture’.”

“It is precise and poetical without idly seeking novelty of form. This highly resolved building develops a relationship to the ironbark forest into which it is sited and around which it exists. The careful composition of colour and form is not blithely considered but rather seriously and carefully delivered with loving precision. This can be seen in the simple decisions made with great judgement about the alignment of wall and structure, corridor and light, room and form. There is nothing missing in this building’s understanding of what it is offering and, in this understanding, there is also something brought to bear that has little tangibility or measure."

National Architecture Awards Jury on Monash University Woodside Building

Monash University:
Architect: Grimshaw in collaboration with Monash University; Project team: Andrew Cortese, Michael Janeke, Cristian Castillo, Sarah Gilder, Carolin Funcke, Benjamin Donohoo, Damon Van Horne, Ivana Pejic, Tomasz Rejowski, Gaspard Michaud, Benjamin Chew, Gilbert Yeong, Robert Held, Alberto Sangiorgio, Nicole Allen, Pamela McGirr, Mark Marin, Lee Sawyer, Alan Tier, Ana Subotic, Takanori Hanai, Wayne Henkel, Carolina Rodriguez Dias, Yawen, Michaela Coe, Merridith Bergstrom, Michael Edmonds, Rose Fan, Susana Loureiro, Tom Donald, Benjamin Baertschi, Patricia Salgado, Amalia Mayor, Karolina Wlodarczyk; Builder: Lendlease; Structural, ESD, civil, fire, mechanical, electrical, lighting, hydraulic and acoustic engineer: Aurecon; Landscape consultant: Aspect Studios; Certifier: BSGM; Facade consultant: Minesco; Project manager: Root Projects; Other consultants: Six Ideas, Bollinger and Grohman; Photographers Rory Gardiner, Michael Kai

Gunyama Park Aquatic and Recreation Centre:
Architect: Andrew Burges Architects and Grimshaw with TCL in collaboration with the City of Sydney; Project team: Andrew Burges, Andrew Cortese, Michael Janeke, Regan Ching, Cameron Deynzer, Min Dark, Eric Ye, Lucas McMillan, Charles Choi, Gero Heimann, Louise Lovmand, Isabel Adam, Alex Wilson, Nard Buijs, Tom Vandenberg, Marcel Press, Chris Mullaney, Elena Lucio Bello, Robert McFee; Builder: CPB; Structural engineer: Taylor Thomson Whitting; Civil engineer: CJ Arms; Mechanical engineer: BRT Consulting; ESD and facade engineer: Surface Design; BCA and DDA consultant: BCA Logic; Geotechnical engineer: Douglas Partners; Structural , lighting and acoustic engineer (stages 1–3): Arup; Acoustic engineer (stages 4–6): Marshall Day Acoustics; Landscape consultant: Taylor Cullity Lethlean (TCL); Aquatics consultant: Calibre and EIC Activities