15 Feb 24

Meet the jury for the Australian Institute of Architects’ NSW & VIC chapter awards

Two Woods Bagot principals have been selected to judge the most upstanding projects in their respective fields for the Australian Institute of Architects’ 2024 Chapter awards.

The AIA is the peak body for architecture in Australia, promoting best practice in the industry through the promotion of quality, sustainable and equitable building design.

Every year, the Institute celebrates the people and projects advancing the field in creativity, originality, and future thinking through its national awards program. This program enables public and peer recognition of the innovative works of Institute members, celebrating the best projects in every state across ten categories. Winners at chapter level will progress to the Institute’s National Awards program.

Woods Bagot Principal and Global Sector Leader for Residential Architecture Jason Fraser has been named jury chair for the NSW Chapter awards for the Residential Architecture – Multiple Housing category.

Principal and Design Leader Hazel Porter has been named a juror for the Victorian Chapter awards for the Sustainability category. Read what our jurors have to say about the value of industry recognition and the greatest challenges facing architecture today. 

In your opinion, what is the value of programs like the AIA awards?

JF: The awards provide a great deal of value in promoting excellence in architecture; it’s an opportunity for the industry to recognise the projects that elevate architectural practice. For entrants and project teams, it’s an opportunity for peer recognition, which instils the sense of pride and achievement that is critical to encouraging better outcomes from everyone. As a juror, it also creates the opportunity to promote those projects that achieve excellence with a deep understanding of the complex process that is involved in bringing a project to life.

What are you hoping to see from entrants in this category?

JF: For me, I am always most impressed by projects that can meaningfully identify what is unique about their project. This could include Indigenous, architectural and social histories, or any existent or past unique landscape the design engages with. I look for projects that can then clearly identify a conceptual strategy through an architecture. This also needs to relate to the experiential aspirations of each sector and its relationship with the city and community around it.

What are the biggest challenges facing this sector in Australia today?

JF: Across Australia – but in the major cities especially – there is intense pressure on housing. In the past, there has largely been an anti-development sentiment within the Australian consciousness, particularly with regards to higher density living. Although this is sentiment is gradually shifting, there is an intense need to demonstrate that higher density living is good for its inhabitants and the wider community. New housing is a necessity, and quality is key to its acceptance as a positive part of our city’s future.


Jason Fraser site visit

In your opinion, what is the value of programs like the AIA awards?

HP: The awards each year provide an opportunity for recognition of the best projects throughout Victoria in various categories, with emphasis on celebrating projects that have positive impact on place and people. The VIC award, as with the national awards program, provide exposure and promote great design outcomes across Australia and internationally. The awards provide a platform to tell the stories behind bringing projects to life: what they represent and their relationship to the public realm. As a juror, it is a privilege and a responsibility to consider each entry and its legacy in the built environment. 

What are you hoping to see from entrants in this category?

HP: This year, I am a juror for the Sustainability category, so the cross-section of typologies, scales and locations is very diverse. I’ll be looking for innovative ways of embedding a sustainability agenda with a great design narrative. Excellent resolution of contextual challenges, material choices, program solutions and technology will be important to understanding how a project moves beyond the everyday to an exemplar of great design and spatial experience.

What are the biggest challenges facing this sector in Australia today?

HP: ‘Sustainability’ as a category is a small snapshot of how the industry at large is tackling climate issues and their impact on the built environment. We’re at a point in time where approaches to sustainability are fast evolving, and its exciting to see where we can push the boundaries further. Embedding responsible and ethical design into all projects is an imperative for our profession, and the AIA awards showcases projects that are leading the way in that frontier.

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