WAN Residential Award 2015

Nick Myall
Tuesday 22 Dec 2015

Six inspirational projects shortlisted

The WAN Residential Award 2015 celebrates multi-occupancy builds that are setting new standards in design excellence, from apartment blocks to university campuses. Highlighting elegant yet enduring ideas for high-density housing. 

The 28 longlisted projects were analysed recently by a panel of expert judges. Considering a number of factors: originality; innovation; form; sustainability; context - the jury looked closely for: how the architects overcame key challenges in the client brief, and, how the design has pushed the boundaries for this building type. 

We gathered a panel of industry leaders, who singled out the designs that rethink the way in which we inhabit spaces and live our lives. This year’s jury panel were: Richard Doone, Director of Doone Silver Architects, James Everitt, Director of EPR Architects, Graeme Rapley, Director of Design and Technical at Arney Fender Katsalidis, and Niall Cairns, Director at Assael Architecture.

After much discussion, the judges arrived at a conclusion on the six shortlisted projects, which are listed below in no particular order. The panel all agreed that the following were well resolved projects that deserved to be shortlisted for this award.

Townhouses with private courtyards in Thailand by baan puripuri co. ltd.

The initial concept was designed to bring back nature and a refreshing green space to the residential scheme, which resulted in an air well and a pocket garden in the middle of each unit as a key part of the house. Richard was first to say “the internal green space really adds something to the design.” Internal balconies and key functions are placed and stacked next to the courtyard with a semi outdoor bridge linking these functions together, a similar concept to a traditional Thai house but stacked up vertically. All the judges felt they could live there, with James commenting: “It’s exceptionally elegant, the sheer volume of the spaces is quite beautiful.” Niall went on to say “There’s a great quality to the internal space.” The front façade consists of random brick walls which were designed as vertical fins which shade the double height living area from late morning glare and heat. The architect created cantilevered planter boxes protruding from the facade on the second floor adding a touch of nature for both neighbourhood and residences. “It’s very well proportioned” commented Graeme. 

ALUMINIUM TIP in France by BABIN+RENAUD architects. 

All the judges were taken with the simplicity of this project. The goal had been to give occupants a gradual pathway from the public space of the street to the private space of the flats by means of a compact design that re-interprets the 'city’s substance' that was previously missing.  The architects created visual transparency in the space between street and inner courtyard by means of a rational design that liberates it from the site’s cramped nature. “For something to be so simple looking is difficult to achieve” said Graeme. There are three flats per floor. All the principal rooms are located on the street side with their backs to a service strip located along the courtyard side. Turning the site’s narrowness to an advantage, the kitchens and bathrooms are placed on the courtyard-side wall thus enjoying natural light. In order to provide double exposure at the core of the collective living space, living rooms are located either in the corner space or in line with the kitchen. “The detail is there, it fits well within its context” commented Richard.

Alpine Place in the United Kingdom, by Ayre Chamberlain Gaunt.  

The development is made up of 144 residential units, arranged in four blocks. All units feature large balconies and rooftop terraces - designed to Lifetime Homes standards and also adhering to the London Housing Design Guide. It was integral to the design to create a variety of safe spaces to encourage residents to come together. “They’ve created a very nice environment for people to live in, it’s been very well done and is of its time” commented Niall. The architectural and material quality has created buildings that are contextual and contemporary, reflecting the industrial urban history of the area. Buff brick is the primary component for three of the blocks while the fourth is clad in wooden veneered panels.  James commented: “It’s got a nice scale, the scheme has a quiet confidence.” The housing exceeds Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4 with 30% carbon dioxide reduction in Dwelling Emission Rate over 2010 building regulations.

170 Amsterdam in the United States by Handel Architects. 

Creating a new terminus for W68th Street, 170 Amsterdam sits between Central Park to the east and the landscaped open space of the Lincoln Towers superblock to the west. The building’s architecture and the exoskeleton that defines the exterior is derived from its location between these large green spaces and its immediate surroundings. Richard began by saying: “It’s impressive with what’s been achieved within its context.” The impressive intersections of the structure rise to the top of the building at different heights, giving the appearance of a façade in motion while also allowing for the prefabricated fiberglass formwork to be reused with the concrete cycle. At ground level, the columns create a dynamic street wall, with the exposed structure angling into the sidewalk and piercing the solid form of the building canopy. Inside, the exposed concrete columns angle through the public spaces of the building piercing the floors and walls of the lobby, common rooms and corridors, and disappearing into the ceiling above. In the apartments, seeing the structure through the floor-to-ceiling glass has the effect of being suspended in a treehouse, held up by the branches of the building’s exoskeleton.  “I like the way the building follows through in terms of its materiality, wherever you are in your apartment, you can see the structure, it becomes part of your landscape “commented Niall. Graeme agreed, saying: “It’s quite an achievement and sits nicely within the street.”

SILT in Australia by bureau^proberts. 

A 7 level apartment building in a unique city peninsula of the Brisbane River. The form of the building responds to its iconic surroundings through a strong connection to the landmark Storey Bridge which runs adjacent to the site and sets the height datum for the building.  Apartments are designed with 3 bedrooms and study with open living spaces that respond to the river bend and Captain Burke Park. “I like the relationship of the original concept; the idea of the water and mud - it’s related to a big idea, and it’s been carried through carefully” commented Richard. Internal living spaces are compact and simply planned to allow access to services and sleeping spaces without interrupting living. Internal finishes reflect the external fabric and context of the site to amplify the sense of connection to its unique riverine location. “I love the framed view, I think it’s beautiful” said James. Niall went on to say: “For such an urban scheme it feels quite homely, I like the tactility of the materials.”

Apartman 18 in Turkey by Aytac Architects.

Located in the residential neighbourhood of Erenköy, Apartman 18 is a 10 story residential building containing 9 non-identical apartment units, rooftop garden with swimming pool, street level garden, underground parking and shared spaces. 10 varying floor plates are spirally wrapped into one continuous surface with a three dimensional facade consisting of individually shaped aluminum panels. This facade treatment offers privacy with maximum light and views within each unit. James was very taken with this project, stating: “There’s a continuity to its design and ethos” with Graeme going on to say: “It’s like a tree, you can see it going on and on in height, and it still feeling right.” Careful consideration towards sustainability have reflected in the design.  This mid-rise apartment building is the first of its kind in the country that uses outside air as renewable energy source avoiding use of fossil fuels such as fuel oil and natural gas. Insulating glass units that have a double silver coating ensure energy savings and solar protection without compromising on natural light transmission. James concluded: “It’s been executed particularly well, there’s an individuality to each apartment."

Thank you to all involved in the WAN Residential Award 2015 and congratulations to the six finalists of this category. From this six, an overall winner will be announced on 26th January 2016. 


Lydia O’Callaghan

Awards Coordinator

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