The largest section of the 2021 Sustainability Awards encompasses a range of categories that are project orientated.

This year the submissions and eventual shortlist raised the bar on all aspects of sustainable design and the Winners and Highly Commended projects are indeed exemplars of sustainable architecture and design.

The winner of the Commercial Architecture (Large) category sponsored by Interface was Olderfleet by Mirvac with Grimshaw Architects & Carr.

The journey of Olderfleet follows Melbourne’s dynamic progress as a city constructed in the late 1800’s at the height of the land boom.

Mirvac, with Grimshaw Architects & Carr, has created a new workplace that rises out of the heritage-listed buildings. The design sets a new precedence for adaptive heritage and workplace integration in Australia, with the original heritage buildings, a focal point for the entire precinct, celebrated throughout the building.

Olderfleet was the first building in the country to achieve a Platinum Core and Shell Pre-Certification from the International WELL Building Institute, that recognises excellence in delivering healthy buildings and the project has also been designed to achieve a 6 Star Green Star rating, 5 Star NABERS Energy rating, and 4 Star NABERS Water rating.

“Those who forget the lessons of history are doomed to repeat its mistakes’. A city should tell its story as an unfolding adventure through time and space. The new should not overwrite the old if that past has its own good story to tell the present and future. Olderfleet, in the heart of the Melbourne CBD, is a building that is an ongoing story. The earthbound older 19th century portion has been joined up very well with the 21st century tower’s mere fleeting nod to gravity, with its comparative lightness, in a way that contrasts their different mass, materials and technologies, without conflict. The whole responds to the 21st century’s need for buildings that still provide humanity and accessibility, and do so with the least possible ecological impact. Good daylighting, high IEQ, low operational energy, and maintaining as much heritage fabric as practicable, are the hallmarks of the new CBD, all manifest in Olderfleet.” Dick Clarke, Jury Chair.

The Commercial Architecture (Small) category sponsored by Autex Acoustics named Ona Coffee Melbourne by Breathe as the winner.

As part of their commitment to creating a more sustainable future, Ona Coffee, a speciality coffee roaster based in Canberra, engages in several projects globally to help reduce its carbon footprint and become a net-zero coffee roaster in the near future.

The latest in this project is their own Melbourne outpost, which is one of Australia’s first hospitality projects to be completely carbon neutral in operations.

Ona is an adaptive re-use project, using as much of the existing building fabric as possible with recycled and locally sourced materials throughout. Sustainability features include being 100 per cent electric, induction cooktops, 20kW of solar on the re-insulated roof with remaining energy requirements provided by 100 per cent GreenPower. A rigorous carbon audit was undertaken to offset any greenhouse gas emissions and 5000 litre rain water tanks, organics waste streams, natural light and ample bike parking were incorporated into the design.

“Ona Coffee – what’s there not to love about green coffee? A carbon neutral business, upcycled and recycled materials, reusing existing building spaces, nestled in the burbs for everyone to enjoy, including access to the outdoors spaces even when they are closed – community is as much about sustainability as is a passive solar building.” Mahalath Halperin, Jury Member.

Highly Commended in category were, Rosby Cellar Door and Gallery by Cameron Anderson Architects and Gurriny Yealamucka Health and Wellbeing Centre by POD (People Orientate Design) with Coburn Architecture.

The winner of the Education and Research category sponsored by Alspec was Ainsworth Building, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Macquarie University by Architectus.

The Ainsworth Building is the purpose-built home of Macquarie University’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, providing teaching spaces in medical research. The project embodies forward-thinking sustainability and environmental stewardship goals outlined in Macquarie University’s Campus Master Plan, with the building estimated to save the carbon emission equivalent of five to six years of energy consumption via the carbon sequestered within the timber frame.

The building comprises four levels of mass timber structure which characterises the architecture with its tonal warmth and subtlety of form. The biophilic palette provides a tangible connection with nature and evokes a sense of wellness among occupants. W-shaped hardwood columns at the entrance are a defining feature that transfers vertical loads to the ground. The high-performance glass skin reveals the precise geometry of the timber structural skeleton and draws optimal daylight into the interiors.

“The Education & Research category of the Sustainability Awards places significant emphasis on educational buildings and institutions going beyond offering a space to learn. It focuses on the need to learn from the architecture itself, about ways to maximise productivity and be kinder to the environment. The jury commends the winner of this year’s award on achieving an outstanding sustainability outcome. The building comprises four levels of mass timber structure, estimated to save the carbon emission equivalent of five to six years of energy consumption via the carbon sequestered within the timber frame. The health and wellbeing of users are clear priorities. For example, a natural ventilation strategy is activated by the Building Management System whenever external environmental conditions are favourable.

And additionally, a biophilic palette provides a tangible connection with nature and evokes a sense of wellness among occupants.” Nermine Zahran, Jury Member.

Highly Commended in category was La Trobe University Sports Park by Warren and Mahoney with MJMA Toronto.

The winner of the Multi-Residential Dwelling category sponsored by Electrolux was Breese St by Milieu by DKO Architecture & Breathe with Milieu Property.

Designed as a collaboration, Breese St was informed through careful study of the requirements of urban living that champions sustainability. The architecture fits the narrative of Brunswick’s industrial heritage of the past while leading to a sustainable future.

In approaching the project, the design team prioritised ethics over aesthetics. Smaller footprints, less applied finishes, more robust materials and more efficient construction. Careful attention was paid to the lifecycle of each material used. With materials used that are recycled, recyclable, low carbon and locally sourced where possible.

“Multi-residential dwellings have been in the news lately for all the wrong reasons. Well, this year’s winner in the Multi-Residential Dwelling category is good news for all the right reasons. This building is the result of the collaboration of a couple of design firms and a savvy property developer. This is a dwelling where the residents have every chance of mixing and sharing life stories because that is what they wanted. Fancy that, a building design that promotes ethics over aesthetics because the designers bothered to survey what people wanted? Resulting in smaller footprints for the mix of apartments, cleverly arranged. Providing for a rational mix of floor plans where cross ventilation and light quality were robustly pursued. Windows optimised for light and shade and heat gain. Design iterations by the dozens to render a delightful solution. A palette of robust materials not overlaid with finishes and push bike parking galore, not a car to be seen. Add the magic mix of creatives collaborating and the result is outstanding, innovative and smart. That’s how multi-residential buildings should be. A place to call home in a neighbourhood of new found friends enjoying the view from their classy BBQ area. How good is that!” Mike Faine, Jury Member.

Highly Commended in category was La Trobe University North and South Apartments by Jackson Clements Burrows Architects with Stantec & ASPECT Studios

The Single Dwelling (New) award sponsored by Wattyl was Urban Green Home Build by Sustainable Building & Design Pty Ltd.

Urban Green Home Build is a project that sits within a community of homes with a mandate to be light-filled, comfortable and with a small carbon footprint. This project creates a home that respects its landscape, minimises resource consumption in occupation, uses sustainable building materials, offers low maintenance living and considers landscaping and the garden as part of the overall vision.

Where possible, the home was constructed using recycled materials and new materials were considered for their impact on the environment. There is an 8kw solar system and battery storage work with a smart module and edge inverter to keep the home powered and, in an Australian first, all tools on site were powered with an off-grid power system.

“Urban Green Home – it’s not just about the house – sustainability is so much more. I love the ethos of following through from design to construction to occupation, embracing the notion of sustainability on multiple fronts. They could have installed a diesel generator, but by putting in the PVs early, were able to build the actual buildings using solar power as well; Treating the site holistically, with multiple residences on the same block yet each with own independence; And integration of garden and home, especially with so much recycled and upcycled content.” Mahalath Halperin, Jury Member

Highly Commended in category were, LiveWorkShare House by Bligh Graham Architects and Off Grid FZ House by Anderson Architecture

The winner of the Single Dwelling (Alteration) category sponsored by Stormtech was Light House by Alexander Symes Architect.

The key brief for Light House was to create a family home that was flooded with natural light, had room for growing herbs and the ability for electric vehicle charging in the garage.

Previously, the home was entered via a long set of stairs within a narrow western setback. Imagining a more inviting entrance, the project team created a new green roof on street level that can be accessed through a new bridge. Setting the tone for the kind of solutions that define this project, the entry opens into a light and bright home, that utilises glass bricks, skylights and evenly distributed windows along the overshadowed western elevation to improve the home’s natural light stores.

All timber was re-used either during construction or recycled and the main material to leave site was the concrete tile which was recycled and turning into a circular economy product re-used on site.

“Single Dwelling (alteration) is a category that epitomises the decision to minimise environmental impact by reusing buildings, spaces, and materials that already exist and adapting them to meet new needs. The winner of this year’s award has successfully transformed the existing building to achieve best performance while retaining the majority of its original structure. The design focuses on embodied carbon through conserving as much of the existing as functionally possible and using low embodied energy for all new construction elements. The transformation features a high efficiency envelope and onsite renewables.” Nermine Zahran, Jury Member.

Highly Commended in category were, Little Loft House by Light House Architecture and Science and Chelmer Flood House by JDA Co.

The Best Adaptive Reuse category sponsored by Havwoods International was won by Smart Design Studio for Smart Design Studio.

Smart Design Studio comprises the adaptive reuse of a Post-War single storey industrial warehouse, into commercial and residential uses across a 3624 square metre site.

Most of the original building fabric was retained and restored, including brick facades, sawtooth roofs and steel roof trusses. The key innovation was to transform an existing warehouse into a carbon neutral building, targeting a six-star NABERS energy rating.
Sustainability features include 260 roof-mounted photovoltaic solar panels with battery storage, creating an energy positive building. Air-conditioning is replaced with natural ventilation, coupled with radiant hydronic underfloor heating and cooling and ceiling fans. Rainwater is harvested for reuse and water-efficient fixtures and building automation ensure energy efficiency. Materials were selected for their embodied energy, harm to the environment and reuse opportunities.

“The Adaptive Reuse shortlist shows how renewal can honour heritage and the environment. This year’s winner blazes a trail in elegance and sustainability, incorporating inventive adaptive design, strong thermal performance and resource efficiency – exemplifying the ultimate in upcycling.” Suzanne Toumbourou, Jury Member.

Highly Commended in category were Goodman Headquarters – The Hayesbery by Intermain with Woods Bagot and Olderfleet by Mirvac with Grimshaw Architects & Carr.

The winner of the Public, Urban & Landscape category sponsored by Rocks On was People Parkers by Alexander Symes Architect with People Parkers.

The People Parkers recycled plastic mobile parklet facilitates the rapid, sustainable and considered reimagining of car parking spaces and roadways into temporary outdoor dining quarters. Roadways are public space and this product is a tactical mechanism to temporarily reallocate this space and inform options for long-term changes of use.

In 2015 People Parkers was born out of the Glebe Point Road Trial Parklet Program as a case study of how parklets could improve amenity, community and business outcomes along Glebe Point Road. People Parkers began developing a suite of movable, robust, re-usable, designed for disassembly parklet that was recyclable and made from low environmental impact materials where possible. The aim was to provide a suite of products that could be employed anywhere to demonstrate how a street could be more than a place to park a vehicle.
“People Parkers are certainly an unusual entry in this category, usually populated with sprawling parks and large permanent works. A portable, road-registered pop-up cafe style seating module is the smallest item in the history of these awards in this category, but sometimes Small is BIG.”

“The advantages of the People Parkers take a few minutes to sink in: funky and attractive to users, shaded when hot, sunny when not, practically accessible for adjacent street businesses, covid-safe, low cost, quickly deployable, no planning permits needed in many cases, no rezoning needed, no roadworks needed, and more.”

“Reclaiming the streets from the dominance of cars is an urban design mantra we all know, and parking bums on seats instead of cars on streets makes shopping strips so much more attractive.” Jury Members Sandra Furtado and Dick Clarke.

Highly Commended in category was Gunyama Park Aquatic and Recreation Centre by Andrew Burges Architects & Grimshaw with the City of Sydney.

Each of the projects that has won in their category shows that thoughtful and sensitive design can change the way that people live and inhabit our world. With sustainability at the very heart of each design, these projects are a blueprint for the future of sustainable practice and can help to create a better and healthier environment for everyone. The 2021 Sustainability Awards carries the torch for sustainability practice now and in the future and highlights that architecture and design that puts the environment first is the way forward.

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