27 Feb 24

Meet the jury for the Australian Institute of Architects’ WA Chapter awards

Two leaders from the Woods Bagot Perth studio have been named jurors for the 2024 Western Australian Chapter awards for the Australian Institute of Architects’ architecture awards program.

Leveraging her experience in architecture and interior design, Woods Bagot principal Eva Sue is jury chair for the Residential Architecture – New category, and Residential Architecture – Alterations and Additions.

Project architect Yang Yang Lee is jury chair for the EmAGN Project award, recognising a project of merit whereby members of the Emerging Architects and Graduate Network (EmAGN) demographic have made a substantial contribution. Lee was named the Emerging Architect for Western Australia in 2023.

Lee is also jury chair for the Small Project Architecture category, raising awareness for the value of design excellence in projects of limited size and budget.

Lee’s own project Ephemeral Lookout, designed in collaboration with Thien Khiem Nguyen, was previously submitted for Small Project Architecture category – an experimental project for Sculptures by the Sea that recalls the experiential qualities of a lighthouse.  

Read what our jurors have to say about the value of industry recognition and the greatest challenges facing architecture today. 


Duos: Eva Sue and Melanie Porrins on Interior Design.

Despite leading different sectors, Mel and Eva can often be found bouncing ideas off each other over and bonding over their shared loves of great coffee and sustainable fashion. Both are champions of the power of interior design to create positive change.

Eva Sue, Principal, Juror – Residential Architecture (New), Residential Architecture (Alterations and Additions) 

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

ES: The AIA awards program plays an important role in advancing the practice of architecture through the promotion of creativity, innovation, originality and sustainable design.

It serves as a platform for architectural practices and project teams to celebrate their recently completed projects across a diverse range of categories, sectors, and scales; and offers an opportunity for recognition among industry peers.

This program promotes public awareness and appreciation of the built environment; the increased visibility fostered through the awards helps to communicate the value of design excellence and its positive impacts on place and community. As a member of the jury, I look forward to approaching the awards in the spirit of generosity, inclusivity, and respect.

What are you hoping to see from entrants in your categories?

ES: As a jury chair across two categories – new houses and alterations and additions – I’m interested in observing the evolution of residential project briefs across both categories, as they offer valuable insights into the changing lifestyle preferences and demographic trends that shape what people value in a home.

I’ll be looking for designs that not only respond to the specific needs and aspirations of homeowners but also contribute positively to the social fabric of our neighbourhoods and cities. In addition, I’ll be looking to see if projects engage with broader societal challenges, through sustainability measures, or provisions for aging in place, and demonstrate an awareness of the issues of affordability and urban density.

What are the biggest changes and challenges facing residential architecture in Australia?

ES: Density, sustainability and affordability are all issues affecting residential architecture in Australia, all of which can be partly mitigated by doing more with less: prioritising quality and amenity over size; designing each space with intent; and doing more with fewer, more considered materials.

Futureproofing has also been recognised as necessary to enabling aging in place. The most sustainable building is one that is already built, and alterations and additions should support aging in place through greater flexibility and adaptability for current and future occupants. This also relates to issues around social sustainability and community, creating environments for multigenerational living or spaces that foster greater connection.

Ephemeral Lookout | Yang Yang Lee in collaboration with Thien Khiem Nguyen | Photographer: Nicholas Putrasia

Yang Yang Lee, Project Architect, Jury Chair – EmAGN Project Award, Small Project Architecture

Why is it important to shed light on opportunities offered to emerging architects and the contribution they make to projects?

YL: Emerging architects and graduates are the next generation of leaders and stewards of tomorrow. They bring fresh perspectives to the conversation that we might otherwise overlook if we carry on business as usual. It is therefore important to empower the younger generation so we can mobilise their passion, particularly in the face of upcoming challenges like climate change and against the shifting role of architects in the in the building industry.

Why should we consider small projects in programs like the AIA awards?

YL: ‘Small projects’ sit outside of what is commonly recognised as conventional architecture, but are nevertheless important to our built environment. They comprise projects that are potentially smaller in budget, ancillary to larger buildings, temporary places, or engineered structures such as bridges. Smaller projects can allow for more flexibility for experimentation for architects, and they often become the testbed for innovation: creatively, materially, technologically and collaboratively. It’s an opportunity to try out things that might otherwise be considered too risky on larger projects.

What are your aspirations for the next generation of architects?

YL: It is important for the next generation of architects to champion the role of architects with renewed energy, new ideas and greater diversity. Younger practitioners are often sidelined by building procurement processes, particularly in the smaller residential sector; but the next generation can bring forward creative thinking and promote cross-collaboration between different professionals. We need to work together to tackle the major societal and ecological challenges of our times, such as housing affordability and climate change.

Read some thoughts from our jurors for the NSW and VIC Chapter awards here. 

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Isla Sutherland
Content and Communications Specialist (Australia & New Zealand)

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