Armidale’s Virginia Wong-See is one of more than a dozen architects to have their winning designs recognised in the 2018 NSW Country Division Architecture Awards.
Ms Wong-See, of architecture@altitude, took out the Small Project Award and Termimesh Timber Award for her ‘small and perfectly formed’ Armidale – Refuge/Prospect garden pavilion.
“I'm very, very happy,” Ms Wong-See said. “It's the first time I've received an award for any of my work, so it's pretty exciting, and it's nice that it's Armidale work, not Sydney work.”
The concept for Armidale Refuge/Prospect began as a simple place of refuge from strong westerly winds, transforming an ordinary place into one that continues to delight through foggy mornings, moonlit nights, fireside conversations and enjoyment of the surrounding trees and the birds that come to rest there.
The awards were presented at the Country Division’s conference in the Hunter Valley last week.
Ashley Dunn, leading the jury of experts, said: “This year’s Awards entries ranged from finely crafted small scale projects to large, complex commercial and public buildings. This highlighted the range of thoughtful work that is being done outside of the major cities in NSW. The Jury had a tough but enjoyable challenge deliberating over the many high calibre entries.”
Prizes were presented for home-office workspaces, beach homes, and council foyers, while the top prize went to a cellar door for a boutique winery in Orange.
In addition to nine awards and two prizes, the jury awarded 13 commendations.
“The awards give us the opportunity to showcase the work done in the regions,” Ms Wong-See said.
NSW Chapter President Andrew Nimmo congratulated all of this year’s award winners, and noted profession’s important contribution to creating more sustainable, cohesive communities.
“Architects apply design thinking to everything they do in order to do more with less and help clients realise opportunities that they did not know existed,” Mr Nimmo said.
“This is just part of the value we describe when we speak of the design dividend, and each year we see the bar raised when it comes to the innovative design solutions and practices architects are implementing across regional NSW.”
Ms Wong-See, one of nine members of the Country Division committee, is trying to get a higher profile for architects in the region.
“I joined the committee because I believe that architects can have a very strong impact on improving our environment,” she said.
Ms Wong-See said her role in Armidale was to familiarise people with what architects can do, and how they can persist in the local community.
Architects, she said, were problem-solvers.
“We look at all the issues involved, and we talk to many people who can assist with their different areas of expertise,” Ms Wong-See said. “We gather the information, and then we solve the problem.”
It didn’t matter whether that problem was designing a new front door, or redesigning the Mall.
“I'm like a GP architect,” Ms Wong-See said, “but I have connections with a whole lot of specialists out there.
“When it comes to the redesign of the Mall, I'm able to put people in touch with people who've done that sort of project many times over, and have an incredible level of experience.
“They can bring that experience into a country town, which can then enhance that Mall project in a way that wouldn't be able to be done otherwise.
“We have access to a lot of incredibly talented people across the state.”