Australia’s most environmentally friendly buildings revealed

Australia’s most environmentally friendly buildings revealed

‘Environmentally friendly’ and ‘sustainability’ are the buzzwords on everybody’s lips – but who are the Australian architects and designers leading the way with innovative designs that can pioneer real change for apartment living?

Over the last decade, Australia’s Sustainability Awards have gained increasing weight and prestige in the world of architecture and design by recognising the most sustainable projects and innovations across the country. Their most highly-regarded award category, appropriately named ‘Best of the Best’, has become a benchmark for excellence, showcasing the pinnacle of building practice.

Entries for the 2017 Sustainability Awards closed this week and this year’s ‘Best of Best’ will soon be revealed, sure to be an exciting addition to the list of previous winners. To gauge what we might expect from this year’s winner, we looked back at recent projects that were awarded the prize and found the very best of the ‘Best of the Best’. 

The Commons in Brunswick, Melbourne by Breathe Architecture – 2014 Winner

Melbourne’s well-known apartment block, The Commons, claimed the title in 2014. The jury afforded Breathe Architecture’s project the prize due to their minimalistic approach to design and the great architecture it inspired.

“[The Commons] embodies many important approaches that showcase how sustainability is an essential part of a positive future,” said the jury panel. They went on to applaud Breathe Architecture’s focus on allowing the natural characteristics of raw materials to be expressed and commended the creation of affordable housing that favours lighter and better living.

88 Angel Street in Newtown, Sydney by Steele Associates Architects – 2016 Winner

88 Angel Street in Sydney was awarded the ‘Best of the Best’ prize for its “meticulous commitment to best practice sustainable building and material procurement,” the jury of Australia’s Sustainability Awards commented. From conception to completion, every element of the project was researched, modelled, tested and decided upon to create the most efficient and livable home possible.

As part of the project’s sustainability initiatives, the finished development’s roof is cloaked in nature’s greenery, which happens to have the benefit of adding a jungle-like charm, too. Builders borrowed a technique from our ancient Japanese neighbours, Shou Sugi Ban, to treat the timber slat façade for more sustainable results and the concrete and wall fill is made from 3 Star Envirocrete – enough said. 

New Royal Children’s Hospital in Parkville, Melbourne by Billard Leece Partnership and Bates Smart – 2012 Winner

The architects of the 2012 winner, New Royal Children’s Hospital, received unanimous praise for their thoughtful and holistic approach to designing such a large complex – particularly one within Melbourne’s healthcare industry.

Billard Leece Partnership and Bates Smart drew the project's design principles from the therapeutic benefits of nature, inspired by the natural textures, forms, patination and colours of the surrounding nature reserve, Royal Park.

Kristen Whittle, the project’s Design Director, commented, “Our priorities were the creation of positive workplace settings for the clinicians, educators and researchers working at the hospital and of course, the family-friendly, child-focused, low-stress settings for those in need of care.”

A popular feature among judges was the inpatient building, designed in the shape of a star – this innovative layout allows over 80% of the rooms to enjoy views out onto the park and the remainder to look out over the courtyards.

Of the project, judges commented, “It is to be applauded [for] the way it integrates nature [and] nurture throughout the entire program of design to improve health outcomes.”

With stellar geometric configurations, jungle-inspired exteriors and raw material expression already imagined and realised, we wait in anticipation for how this year’s ‘Best of the Best’ winner will dazzle us – and help save the planet, of course.  

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