2023 Tasmanian Architecture Awards – New Life Cleverly Interwoven Into Heritage Buildings

Heritage projects were big winners at last night’s 2023 Tasmanian Architecture Awards. Held at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery in nipaluna/Hobart, the Awards recognised architectural excellence in categories such as public architecture, residential, commercial, and education.

Tasmania Chapter President, Megan Baynes, said the Awards celebrated the value good architecture adds to the island state. “Tasmania offers fertile ground for architecture practice. Architecture in Tasmania seems to be becoming about how the old and the meet. We are, it seems, fine joiners in matters of cultural production.” Many of this year’s entries eloquently and sensitively merged the old and the new.

Harriet’s House by SO:Architecture received the highest honour, awarded the prestigious Tasmanian Architecture Medal for their ‘subtle yet striking’ one room extension to a 1930s Georgian Cottage in Launceston. Lauded by the jury as a ‘resounding work’, the tiny addition demonstrates a “remarkable collaboration between the architects and their historian/archivist client.”

Harriet’s House also won the Edith Emery Award for Residential Architecture – Houses (Alterations and Additions), with the jury noting that the extension “stands as a testament to exceptional craftsmanship, spatial inventiveness, and steadfast dedication to honouring the past while embracing the present. It embodies a captivating architectural experience that resonates with deep personal and historical significance.”

Also of historical significance is Parliament Square in Hobart, awarded The Roy Sharrington Smith Award for Heritage. Described by the jury as “arguably the largest urban-scale conservation project undertaken in Tasmania,” a redevelopment of this size and significance “provides a timely reminder that Hobart’s historical building fabric—from all eras —should not only be treasured, but we should seek ways to breathe new life into them.”

The heritage component of the development was a collaboration between Design 5 – Architects, fjcstudio (formerly fjmtstudio), JPDC and Years Months.

fjcstudio (formerly fjmtstudio) was also presented with The Colin Philp Award for Commercial Architecture and the Award for Urban Design for Parliament Square. The landmark development ­is a mixed-use precinct comprising government office space, retail, cafes, restaurant, and hotel, and was recognised as a “significant urban renewal project” by the jury.

Dove Lake Viewing Shelter at Cradle Mountain by Cumulus Studio won the Award for Public Architecture and the EmAGN Project Award. The shelter provides a “delicate balance between human interaction and environmental preservation”, with the young team of architects and graduates creating a “visitor experience that creates an enduring and memorable threshold to a precious World Heritage Wilderness Area”.

Cumulus Studio also won the Award for Commercial Architecture for Callington Mill Distillery, which was praised as a ‘sophisticated addition’ to an existing heritage fabric.

Education projects shone this year, with three awardees in the Educational Architecture category. Bence Mulcahy won The Sydney Blythe Award for Educational Architecture for their ‘delightful’ addition to Holy Rosary Catholic School. The Award for Educational Architecture was jointly awarded to Morrison & Breytenbach Architects for St Cuthbert’s Early Years Centre, and Wardle for the Inveresk Library at the University of Tasmania’s Launceston campus.

The Inveresk Library also won The Alexander North Award for Interior Architecture. The interior is “breathtaking in its … resolution,” the jury concluded, “and compelling in its invitation to learn, absorb, think, collaborate and create.” The spaces are further enhanced through stories and truth-telling from Tasmanian palawa collaborators, which include situational carpets by artist Caleb Nichols-Mansell.

Licht Architecture received the Award for Residential Architecture – Houses (Alterations and Additions) for Pop Top, which repurposed the often-overlooked suburban garage, creating a discrete, elevated studio apartment. Room 11 won an Award for Residential Architecture – Houses (New) for two projects – Triptych and Wild House.

Philp Lighton Architects received the 2023 COLORBOND® Award for Steel Architecture for MyState Bank Arena, home of the Tasmania JackJumpers. The Arena also received a Commendation for Public Architecture.

Commendations were awarded across several categories. Xsquared Architects with Guymer Bailey Architects were awarded a Commendation for Public Architecture for their ‘dignified and people-centric’ approach to The Southern Remand Centre. Preston Lane received a Commendation for Heritage for Tate Extension. Shipwrights Arms by Circa Morris-Nunn Chua Architects received a Commendation for Commercial Architecture. The Commendation for Urban Design was awarded to Devonport Living City Stage 2 – Hotel and Waterfront Park by Lyons.

The Emerging Architect Prize 2023 was awarded to Scott Flett of Scott Flett Architecture Workshop for his advancement of and leadership within the architecture profession, and commitment to innovation. Sam Hodgens won the 2023 SWT Blythe Student Prize for his thought-provoking project ‘Eroding occupation, landscape as protagonist’, a remote biodiversity research outpost, Sarah Island (langerrareroune) Tasmania.

Strahan Visitor Centre by Morris-Nunn Associates & Forward Viney Woollan was honoured with the Award for Enduring Architecture. The seminal project “endures and operates uniquely in the traditions of Tasmanian space-making.” The jury further remarked, “Realised through a conjugation of literature, architecture and timber craft, the building contains a story-telling interior which is compelling both typologically and spatially, redefined the engagement of audiences with the history and mythology of this island’s remote southwest regions.”

The Triennial Prize is given annually in three alternating categories. The jury for the Prize is separate to the main awards jury and consists of jury members from the three preceding years.

The categories are as follows:

  • The John Lee Archer Triennial Prize is open to named award and award winners in the public, commercial, educational architecture, and urban design categories from the three preceding years.
  • The James Blackburn Triennial Prize is open to named award and award winners in all the residential architecture categories from the three preceding years.
  • The Henry Hunter Triennial Prize is open to named award and award winners in the heritage, interior architecture, and small projects architecture categories from the three preceding years.

Culturally, the Triennial Award structure is one of the few living connections to the local pre-nationalised Institute.

The James Blackburn Triennial Prize went to Bence Mulcahy for Ryde Street House. “The project improves a house for a family and demonstrates that good design is not flashy but, rather, sensitive and sensible.” Furthermore, the jury added, “Amid a climate change and housing affordability crisis, these architects have struck a hopeful note in the Tasmanian architectural tradition, regarding the very real and tangible benefits of modesty as a virtue.”

Taylor & Hinds Architects was awarded The Henry Hunter Triennial Prize for their exemplary reworking of the historic Bozen’s Cottage. The Cottage “reveals the opportunities of architecture beyond the physical fabric and has ultimately repositioned, if not reset, the very notion of the Tasmanian vernacular both historic and emerging.”

Spring Bay Mill Event Spaces and Moss 25 were awarded The John Lee Archer Triennial Prize together. The jury said that “while utterly different in purpose, typology and scale, they share an attitude to the public realm and the role of architecture, and a distinctive sensitivity to heritage that the jury recognised as outstanding.”


Award winners will be published in a special lift-out in the Sunday Tasmanian on Sunday 2 July 2023.

All Tasmanian Chapter winners were selected by independent juries. All Named Award and Chapter Award winners will now progress to the National Architecture Awards, held later in the year.

Tasmanians are invited to vote for their favourite project in the annual People’s Choice Award. Online voting closes midnight Tuesday 11 July 2023.

More information and to vote: architecture.com.au

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