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Top prize in design for 'modesty and good manners'

A QUEANBEYAN school hall has taken out the top prize in this year's ACT Architecture Awards.

The Australian Institute of Architects ACT jury chair Roger Pegrum awarded St Gregory's hall the prestigious Canberra Medallion last night, describing it as a building that sits comfortably and confidently in its grounds, near the primary school classrooms and historic St Gregory's church on site.

''It is a pleasing urban composition in all respects, demonstrating that modesty and good manners are no impediments to a successful and clear architectural statement,'' he said.

Multi award-winning firm Collins Caddaye Architects designed the hall, which also won the Romaldo Giurgola Award for public architecture and features exterior walls of local rubble in the same colour as the church, and a street elevation of black prefinished panels.

The hall also boasts a tall, simple rectangular bell tower.

''Internally, the planning is wonderfully simple and all parts of the spaces are finished with imagination and fine detail,'' Mr Pegrum said.

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The Australian Institute of Architects received a record 60 entries for the 2012 awards, which span public, residential, commercial and heritage architecture.

Canberra firm Joanna Nelson Architect took home the houses award for an airy costal home at Potato Point, about half an hour's drive south of Moruya.

Dubbed the Potato Point House, the property has no driveway or formal entry point, and its central platform is framed by thin rainwater tanks on either side of the door.

The home is decorated inside and out by Canberra graffiti artist Dan Maginnity.

At the other end of the size scale, the transformation of the Fyshwick Markets by Colin Stewart Architects was awarded the John Andrews Award for Commercial Architecture.

The renovation was praised for maintaining the authentic hustle and bustle of the market while incorporating customer friendly additions including improved access and parking and more toilets and baby change areas.

A gym built by BVN Architecture for HMAS Creswell at Jervis Bay was also given an award for public architecture.