Eco-thinking on show at National Building Design Awards

Chrismont winery
Chrismont winery

Regional projects and ecologically minded designs took out many of the awards at the 2016 National Building Design Awards on the weekend.

A regional winery in Victoria’s King Valley, Chrismont Winery, was the major winner. The project by MG Design and Building took out Building Design of the Year, as well as Best Commercial Design and Best Interior Non-Residential.

Chair of the judging panel and Building Designers Association of Queensland president Tamica Lewis said the project designers had leveraged the natural environment to create “an exceptional design”.

“The combined palette of concrete, stone, wood and glass creates a light and inviting contemporary interior, which makes visitors feel comfortable and invites them to relax and indulge,” Ms Lewis said.

“We were impressed with the way the walls and windows perfectly framed the views of the King Valley to appear as if it was floating above the winery, presenting the location in all of its natural glory.”

The building features a north-facing outlook. The design incorporated double-glazing from floor to ceiling with deep eaves to provide shade for an alfresco area during summer and reduce glare, while still maximising the warmth from winter sun and natural light in the interior. High louvre windows on both sides facilitate natural ventilation.

Artisan apartments

Artisan apartments

Another multiple winner was EME Design’s Artisan Apartments project in Heidelberg, winning both the Sustainable Design and Best Multi-residential Design – Over Six Dwellings.

The apartments used a combination of passive solar design, thermal massing and natural ventilation to achieve an average of 8.9 star NatHERS for the apartments. The development also includes green open space with communal fruit trees and communal herb garden.

Another sustainability star, The Culvert House in Trentham, won the Best New residential Design – up to $500K construction cost.

The project, by Maxa Design, used local materials and passive solar design, as well as integrating rainwater capture and re-use and renewable energy to enable the residents to be net-zero for both water and energy.

It was also a winner in the BDAV Awards earlier this year, with the judges noting that at its “relatively modest capital cost, the Culvert House demonstrates the leading-edge resource management features that reflect best practice.”

Culvert House, Trentham

Culvert House, Trentham

“Energy neutrality and water management self-sufficiency are not only highly appropriate to the Trentham setting of this property, but also point the way ahead for residential buildings in sprawling coastal cities where a large number of Australians live.”

The award for Best New Public Building was won by another eco-focused project, the Winton Wetlands Hub by NRG Design. The multi-purpose visitor, function and education centre with its cafe is located at the 8,750 hectare Winton Wetland restoration project in Victoria’s north east.

The restoration aims to create a major national facility for wetland education and research, and also to create opportunities for nature-based tourism and recreation including bird-watching, canoeing, cycling, bushwalking and boating.

The Hub and the wider wetlands project also aim to promote understanding and awareness of the Indigenous cultural heritage and history of the area.

Across other categories of the awards, the use of timber appeared to be catching the eye of judges, with projects including Chris Clout Design’s Thai-inspired Sunshine Villa – winner of Best New Residential Design $500K-$1 million – and Best Small Lot Design winner, Principal Plan’s The Cove both showcasing extensive use of timber.

One of the more atypical projects was the winner of Best Small Dwelling Design, Dude’s Ranch by BKD Designs. The granny flat project at Gladstone also won awards at the Regional Queensland levels for best home under 150 square metre and best use of lightweight materials.

Dude's Ranch

Dude’s Ranch

Gladstone Regional Council planning rules restricted size of the dwelling to 60 sq m. The design resulted in a dwelling that is fully self-contained, with kitchen, living, dining, bedroom and bathroom. Natural cross-flow ventilation has been incorporated through the use of louvres, and there are overhead fans in both the bedroom and main living area.

Locally sourced spotted gum ship-lap timber cladding was used for part of the external facade.

Another project that made sustainability a focus was the winner of the Best New Industrial Building. Calabro Warehouse by McMech Drafting Services makes extensive use of passive solar design and natural light and ventilation to create a comfortable working environment.

The orientation of the site is east to west, so to shade the reception, offices and boardroom, a 5.6m wide suspended concrete slab patio was incorporated. This also doubles as outdoor space off the boardroom on the upper floor. Vertical landscaping extending to the roof was added to the exterior of this space to provide added shading and ventilation, and the roof eaves at 3.5m wide also provide shade for the patio area.

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