“Master achievement”: The hotels championing Australian architecture

Two trailblazing hotels are among 33 winning projects celebrated at the prestigious 2019 National Architecture Awards held at Howard Smith Wharves in Brisbane last week.

Helen Lochhead, national president of the Australian Institute of Architects, said the awards served the dual purpose of Australian architects recognising the work of their peers and of communicating the value of design to the public.

“Where possible,” she said, “I urge people to visit these outstanding places to experience the positive impact of superior design.

“This is where architecture shines, in its ability to make the world a better place for people.”

The Commercial Architecture National Award went to Paramount House Hotel, a three-storey 1930s-built former brick warehouse redevelopment in the historic Paramount Picture Studios headquarters of Sydney’s Surry Hills, by Breathe Architecture.

The jury citation said: “Twenty-two hotel rooms occupy the original brick structure, while two-level loft rooms crown the top of the building behind a delicate copper veil. A bold yet sensitive addition to the heritage fabric, this chevron screen effectively mediates light to rooms and ensures privacy from neighbouring buildings.

“Inside, Paramount House Hotel’s historic fabric is peeled away to reveal traces of time and function. Each room is uniquely characterful, with carefully selected Australian fittings and furnishings.

“Materials have been sourced locally for their low environmental impact and to complement the original building fabric; together, these qualities create an authentic, comfortable and inviting home away from home.”

Spaceagency architects’ Premier Mill Hotel project in Katanning, WA, was the recipient of 2019 Lachlan Macquarie Award for Heritage.

Premier Hill Hotel, Image:

The jury said: “Premier Mill Hotel is refreshing and revelatory in its deep integration of a plethora of heritage artefacts and spatial leftovers, textures, materials and images that don’t simply invoke a past but celebrate its ingenuity and authenticity.

“This is a project that exhibits sincere and respectful care without being museum-like or overtly deferential. It celebrates the past by making it visible, relevant and part of the commercial allure of the hotel.

“The historic hardware (machines, belts, cables, shafts and conveyors) of the flour mill remain in situ, with the hotel rooms, corridors, circulation areas and stairs inserted into the mill’s carcass in such a way as to retain an appreciation of the building’s original purpose.

“This is a master achievement, born of intelligence and attention.”

Clare Cousins, past president of the Institute, was jury chair alongside judges Rachel Neeson (Neeson Murcutt), Emma Williamson (The Fulcrum Agency), Mat Hinds (Taylor and Hinds) and Donald Bates (University of Melbourne, LAB Architecture Studio).

She said:“A number of themes emerged across all categories this year: projects that delivered worthy outcomes with little means; projects that demonstrated the value of architecture through public benefit; and projects with clear commitments to social and environmental sustainability.

“All these qualities make significant contributions to our cities and regional centres.”

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