2012 Australia Award for Urban Design winners announced

BRISBANE'S River Quay project, Sydney's Darling Quarter redevelopment, Penrith's vision of the future and the Parramatta River Urban Design Strategy have received the 2012 Australia Award for Urban Design, one of Australia's most prestigious urban design awards that recognises excellence and innovation in urban design.

The Award, hosted by the Planning Institute of Australia with support from the Australian Institute of Architects, the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects, Consult Australia, Green Building Council of Australia, Property Council of Australia and the Urban Design Forum, was presented at the Built Environment Meets Parliament (BEMP) dinner in Canberra last week.

The Darling Quarter project in Sydney, which involved the redevelopment of the area between the Sydney CBD and Darling Harbour South, took out the award for the 'Delivered outcome – large scale' category.

The jury praised the redevelopment for the way it creates a vibrant and dynamic mix of commercial and public space with grassed community areas, a children's theatre, retail terrace and a large illuminated water playground.

PIA National President Dyan Currie said Darling Quarter represents an iconic and significant space in a major Australian city, with an "innovative design that offers a more activated public domain with great connectivity."

Darling Quarter involved input from Lend Lease, Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp (fjmt), Aspect Studios, Arup and Hyder Consulting.

The River Quay project in Brisbane, a dining precinct on the river's edge at the southern end of South Bank, won the award for the 'Delivered outcome – small scale' category and was praised by the jury for the way it responds to a wide range of considerations including natural heritage and sustainability.

PIA National President Dyan Currie said River Quay was an excellent example of waterfront enhancement with open space and elevated decks. In addition, she said the precinct not only recognises the past but also delivers modern infrastructure and facilities.

"The jury was impressed with the way the riverside park blends into a well designed arrangement of restaurants and buildings to create intimate meeting and gathering spaces," Ms Currie said of the project, which involved input from Arkhefield Architects and Interior Design and Cardno S.P.L.A.T Landscape Architects.

The Future of Penrith, Penrith of the Future, won the award for the 'Policies, Programs and Concepts - large scale' category, with the jury praising the concept as an inspirational vision, utopian in its idealistic imagery setting out to meet every challenge with fresh imagination.

"The jury was obviously very impressed with this concept. It embraces urban design fundamentals like accessible public space, recreational precincts and walkability while at the same time allowing for the right amount of density," Ms Currie said.

The Future of Penrith, Penrith of the Future, involved input from Campement Urban, Sylvie Blocher, Francois Daune and Tim Williams.

The Parramatta River Urban Design Strategy, which involved landscape architecture and urban design firm McGregor Coxall, won the 'Policies Programs and Concepts - small scale' category.

PIA National President Dyan Currie said the Parramatta River Urban Design Strategy represents a significant facelift in Sydney's second largest CBD, with the jury praising the concept for the way it opened up new lifestyle and economic opportunities with the blending of river front green space and a strong activated urban edge.

"The jury noted that the vision of an open space network, public spaces and future development demonstrated the potential for the city to reclaim its relationship with the river," Ms Currie said.

The jury also noted the project was a highly competent demonstration of how well urbanism can contribute to the environmental assets of our cities and encourage us to revalue them.

The Australia Award for Urban Design was first proposed by the Urban Design Task Force under former Prime Minister Paul Keating to acknowledge the critical role good urban design plays in the social, economic and environmental development of our cities and towns. The Award was first presented in 1996.

Entries are assessed against agreed criteria by a jury made up of experienced practitioners from supporting organisations. Prime Minister Julia Gillard is the Award Patron.

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