Sydney’s Short Lane wins Australian Institute of Architects’ National Award for Residential Architecture – Multiple Housing

Located in Sydney’s inner-city neighborhood, Surry Hill, the complex stood out to the jury for its ability to provide apartment dwellers with a sustainable, private environment within in a dense, urban setting. The jury also noted that the project maintains a connection to its surroundings with walkable laneways and public venues at the ground level.

“This award is an affirmation of good design that gives more to the neighborhood than a building alone. Small in scale, the apartments have an unusually high level of amenities. We brought the garden into the very fabric of their living spaces. Equally, by reinvigorating the Short Lane at its eastern boundary, the development contributes to Surry Hill’s reactivated laneway network,” Woods Bagot Principal and Global Design Leader Domenic Alvaro, who led this project, said.

Short Lane advanced to the National Architecture Awards through its regional program, where it also won that award, among many others.

Its exterior is clad in board-formed concrete and marked by individual cantilevered balconies for each of its 22 apartments with botanical spaces—an exploration for the designers in how they can “weave” nature into a city. The integration of nature also highlights the “greening of a city” concept that is popular in the state for its ability to integrate natural beauty into a built environment. Keeping its sustainable ethos in mind, the design team selected species native to the region in order to meet minimal water requirements and ultimately prevent pollution through runoff.

Short Lane’s immediate neighborhood is also revered for its pedestrian-friendly streets. To honor this reputation, a void was kept between the project’s eastern boundary neighbor, a Methodist church with similar materiality and cubist forms, so that pedestrians can travel throughout the neighborhood via the lane.  Dining and retail spaces on the street level are defined by black steel and powder-coated aluminum bay window frames to give a glimpse to pedestrians of what the businesses are offering inside.