ACT News


New Acton precinct wins national architecture award

The design of the New Acton precinct has won its architects a national award for what judges have described as the "ultimate urban mix".

The precinct has also set new standards for urban design in Canberra that will have national impact, the judges said.

Fender Katsalidis Architects took out the Walter Burley Griffin Award for urban design at the 2015 National Architecture Awards on Thursday.

The judges said the precinct had "transformed" a part of Canberra into a lively, mixed-use area with a "definite sense of community", and was a "fine example of partnership, opportunities, inventive architecture and clever urban design".

Visitors to the precinct will be familiar with the mix of high-rise apartments, hotel, cafes and art, a combination the architects have mastered, according to the judges.

"Heritage architecture overlaps with commercial use, which in turn merges with residential highrise. Cinemas sit beneath government offices and all are woven together by a comprehensive and ongoing program of contemporary art.


"This could be the ultimate urban mix," the judges wrote.

The panel was also enamoured with the precinct's "rich" pedestrian experience.

"One can walk between buildings, across lawns and gardens contained by steel edging to lanes with cafes and restaurant doors open, through foyers to parallel streets beyond. At each step there is something to see.

"Sculptures are on street corners; they tumble out of facades or are woven into them. Collaboration is felt and experienced here," they wrote.

In a glowing review of the precinct's design, the judges said the architects had set "exacting new standards for urban design in Canberra, ones that will have national impact".

"The New Acton Precinct has pushed the boundaries of the ACT legislative planning system and its definitions of 'mixed use' and encouraged real reform."

They noted that the architects and developer Molonglo Group had worked since 2002 to realise the New Acton Masterplan.