SA Chapter President David HomburgAA Gold Medal Winner Ian McDougall (ARM) discusses the evening with the Sir James Irwin President’s Medal recipient Fran Bonato (Tectvs)

South Australian Architecture Awards

Athanasios Lazarou
Jul 12, 2016 · 5 min read

(4th June 2016, Athanasios Lazarou & Jenna Holder, as published in How Now Is Soon)

“It’s never been a more exciting time to be a South Australian Architect”


This was the call that opened the 2016 South Australian Architecture Awards from Chapter president David Homburg — and by the end of the evening the quality of awarded projects proved it.

Held in the William Magary Room at Adelaide Oval and hosted by an always-engaging Dino Vrynios and Damian Madigan, long tables, shared food plates, and a collaborative-bridge-building-puzzle-game crafted by SONA members facilitated a mood of celebration and conversation. Whilst the rest of Australia counted election votes, the only votes that mattered to the crowd of Architects were those of Jury members.

In his opening speech SA Chapter President David Homburg spoke compellingly of the multiple ways practice is engaging with wider voices in university, research and government. Homburg told of being requested to meet State Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis earlier this year with a delegation of architects — the first of several mentions throughout the night of collaboration with government — where the Treasurer was said to have talked positively on how practitioners have a prolific influence on the supply chain.

SA Chapter President David Homburg
A sculptural installation of plywood curves behind the nominated project boards

The Development Act has embedded within its guiding principles the idea we need design principles in every project — a first for Australia. Homburg was keen to stress the value of having design excellence located in the Act (and how important it is to have a Treasurer state the value of design) but was also keen to reinforce that it’s now up to membership to make sure we achieve positive outcomes from such a strong departure point. The legislation of design quality will have a profound and positive impact on the quality of the built environment, with the recognition of the value of practitioners being embedded in development process from start for finish.

National President of the Australian Institute of Architects Ken Maher dazzled us all with the official President’s regalia — Utzon-designed bling (his words, not ours!), and discussed, amongst other things, the importance of collaboration with government for successful built outcomes, a theme we noticed.

Adelaide’s Lord Mayor Martin Haese sported his designer specs, noting that despite looking dapper he couldn’t actually see too well through them and deviated a little from his notes in talking. Despite having a hard act to follow in the previous Lord Mayor, Haese spoke compellingly of his vision for a smart, creative and well-designed city demonstrating his engagement with the design profession.

The Sir James Irwin President’s Medal was deservedly awarded to Francesco Bonato; founding Director of Tectvs and Life Fellow RAIA. David Homburg presented the award, noting that Fran “exemplifies the idea of advocating for and delivering great design” before delivering the highest praise: “If the things that we are trying to achieve as a Chapter could be captured in one person, that person would be Fran Bonato.”

In accepting, Fran was quick to repeatedly credit co-directors of Tectvs Gary Bonato and Tony Giannone. While the award citation summarised the many reasons for the award, we think Fran put it more succinctly in his acceptance speech: “we’re passionate about all that shit”.

Anthony Balsamo (Walter Brooke & Associates) was awarded the Emerging Architect Prize — well deserved given his contribution to Adelaide design culture (hint: being a prominent member of the design team of awards venue Adelaide Oval) and expanding beyond the immediate architecture community as one of the founders of NAG, an inaugural creative director of FAD (2014) and a recipient of the Jack Hobbs McConnell Travelling Fellowship (2008). Homburg cited how Balsamo “continues to push the boundaries and influence those around him to do that same.”

The display of awards boards was articulated with a fantastic sculptural contribution by SONA. An extended entanglement of plywood curves — strategically pegged together at key junctions — formed an elaborate snake that aligned the nominated projects. Throughout the night it provided many a setting for pronounced physical encounters.

Recent positive shifts in the city of Adelaide’s design culture were reflected by the City of Adelaide Prize, won by the playfully intimate Pink Moon Saloon by Sans-Arc Studio (read our ‘Explore Adelaide’ write up here), with a commendation to the delightfully joyous Zoos SA Nature’s Play Ground by Phillips/Pilkington Architects and WAX Design.

While we noticed plenty of women stepping up to accept awards, it was noticed that women’s voices were less prominent in the speeches and formalities.

And yes, Tonsley won everything.

- The Dr John Mayfield Award for Educational Architecture: Flinders at Tonsley (HASSELL)

- Award for Sustainable Architecture: Tonsley Main Assembly Building and Pods (Woods Bagot and Tridente Architects)

- Award for Sustainable Architecture: Tonsley (Oxigen)

- Award for Heritage: Tonsley Main Assembly Building and Pods (Woods Bagot and Tridente Architects)

- Commendation for Urban Design: Tonsley (Oxigen)

A full list of all awards is available here

Building bridges thanks to SONA
Sir James Irwin Presidents Medal Recipient Fran Bonato (Tectvs)
SA Chapter Councillors are acknowledged on stage
Athanasios Lazarou

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I’m a prize-fighter with my brain. #architect #theorist #researcher

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