Top architecture awards go to inner-city buildings    

Brendan Rees

The University of Melbourne’s Student Precinct, designed by a team of architectural firms led by Lyons, has taken out Victoria’s top architecture award.

The “world-class” hub within the university’s Parkville campus, which encompasses two new and five fully refurbished buildings, as well as significant increase in outdoor landscaped areas, was described as “seamless, yet never at the expense of texture, diversity or authenticity” by a jury who awarded the precinct the Victorian Architecture Medal in the 2023 Victorian Architecture Awards. 

Completed at the start of this year, the precinct is the university’s first fully co-created major project in its 170-year history and is set to become a landmark building.

In their comments, the jury stated: “The University of Melbourne Student Precinct resolves myriad forces – urban, social, cultural, historical, geographical – into a richly layered campus that is both vibrant and robust”.

The student precinct design also won a host of other awards including the Henry Bastow Award for Educational Architecture, the Creative Adaptation Award, and the Joseph Reed Award for Urban Design.

In other projects, Carlton Gardens Primary School won a Commendation for Educational Architecture for its substantial 2165 sqm expansion of the existing heritage school.

The four-storey, 23-classroom design embraces students’ requests for the building to be made of pink Lego, with a garden on the roof and an aquarium with fish. 

In other wins, the Science Gallery Melbourne in Carlton, designed by Smart Design Studio, won the Interior Architecture Award. Over two levels, the facilities include a flexible exhibition, workshop, and theatre spaces including an artist-in-residence laboratory and social areas.

In East Melbourne, Victoria’s Family Violence Memorial at St Andrews Reserve, defined by its purple flowers and comforting English Elm and designed by Muir and Openwork, was awarded the Kevin Borland Award for Small Project Architecture. 

The Queen Victoria Market’s shed restoration A-D and H-I, designed by NH Architecture and Trethowan Architecture, won the John George Knight Award for Heritage. •

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