Road to the Victorian Architecture Awards 2018: Social sustainability and public architecture

Laurence DragomirJune 25, 20180 min read's coverage of the 2018 Victorian Architecture Awards continues today with a look at two of the shortlisted entries in the public architecture category and the positive contributions they make to their respective communities.

According to the Victorian Chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects, the growing role of social sustainability is one of the themes to emerge in this year's shortlist of projects.

Additionally, to ensure the continued viability and longevity of public spaces, architects in Victoria are increasingly designing projects which are both socially and environmentally conscious.

A well designed public project should engender positive social outcomes, create active spaces, encourage interaction and enrich lives claims the Vic Chapter of the AIA.

One of the challenges of sustained population growth is ensuring access to and provision of quality space within communities, thus making it an increasingly valuable commodity. To address this issue numerous public projects across Victoria have been designed to accommodate a variety of diverse program within buildings, to appeal to different members of the community or community groups.

Road to the Victorian Architecture Awards 2018: Social sustainability and public architecture
Fjmt's Bunjil Place. Image: John Gollings

Bunjil Place has been shortlisted in this year’s architecture awards for demonstrating a new form of community and civic building. It incorporates a library, theatre, function centre and a multipurpose studio, an art gallery and the City of Casey customer service centre, all in the one building. 

According to its architects fjmt, Bunjil Place has been designed as an inclusive, hybrid form of public building, reflecting and embracing the diversity of its community.

Similarly, Bargoonga Nganjin North Fitzroy Library, which has been shortlisted for three awards, provides more to its community than a traditional library.

Designed by GroupGSA, Bargoonga Nganjin – which, appropriately, means ‘gather everybody’ in Woiwurrung, the language of the Wurundjeri people – is a 6 star green star building that is home to a library, maternal child health service, playgroup spaces, the customer service centre for the City of Yarra, community meeting rooms, an exhibition space and a spectacular rooftop garden.

Designed to provide a suite of services to people of all ages, from newborns to seniors, the building is intended to support the wellbeing of its community for decades to come.

Road to the Victorian Architecture Awards 2018: Social sustainability and public architecture
Bargoonga Nganjin North Fitzroy Library by GroupGSA. Image: Tom Hutton

It comes down to design resilience and proper consultation processes – this lies at the heart of making buildings socially sustainable. Both architects and an ever better informed client sector now see the benefit of hosting extensive conversations and workshops prior to work commencing. Determining how spaces should be used, these processes are valuable to the design of quality architecture. Quick-fix solutions or less-than-rigorous design processes cost more in the long run, by creating expensive ‘white elephants’ that do not reach the potential of their purpose.

As architects we are building for people and ultimately the public realm is about social connection. Providing a conduit for people to interact is incredibly important when it comes to strategic and effective urban planning. Architecture and design’s public sphere nurtures communal responsibility defining an enriched city governed by more than what one might read as simple form making. The instigation of building sustainable communities is an imperative condition for successful architectural and urban planning outcomes.

- Amy Muir, Victorian Chapter President of the Australian Institute of Architects

The winners of the 2018 Victorian Architecture Awards will be announced at the awards dinner on 29 June 2018. Winners of each category will then progress to compete in the National Architecture Awards program.

Laurence Dragomir

Laurence Dragomir is one of the co-founders of Urban Melbourne. Laurence has developed a wealth of knowledge and experience working in both the private and public sector specialising in architecture, urban design and planning. He also has a keen interest in the built environment, cities and Star Wars.
Public Architecture
Victorian Architecture Awards 2018
Social Sustainability
Bunjil Place
Amy Muir
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