Refurbished heritage hotels, large-scale educational facilities and the $400 million WA Museum Boola Bardip redevelopment were among the winners of the 2021 WA Architecture Awards, which were presented by the WA chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects on Friday night. The awards, this year held virtually via a live stream, are held annually and encompass a wide range of projects, from residential and commercial, to public and educational architecture.

The big winner was WA Museum Boola Bardip, which took home the prestigious George Temple Poole Award, The John Septimus Roe Award for Urban Design and The Jeffrey Howlett Award for Public Architecture (as well as a Commendation in the Heritage Architecture and Bluescope Colorbond Steel Architecture categories) for its significant redevelopment by Hassell + OMA. The jury commended the integration of the existing buildings and new structures, and predicted the museum will soon be recognised as a design of national and international significance.

“In dealing with the constraints of the site, the architects have made a wider urban design contribution – providing vital activation and renewal of the Perth Cultural Centre,” said the 2021 WA Architecture Awards Chair of Juries John Taylor.

The recently refurbished Farmers’ Home Hotel by Space Agency Architects took out the Margaret Pitt Morison Award for Heritage Architecture. The jury commended the restraint in the introduction of new materials and respect to the building’s history, resulting in a beautiful and sophisticated regional hotel.

Another heritage property, the Warders Hotel and its in-house restaurant Emily Taylor received the Ross Chisholm and Gil Nicol Award for Commercial Architecture, as well as an Architecture Award in the Heritage category. Designers Matthew Crawford Architects were praised for skilfully converting the row of rudimentary 19th-century workers’ houses into small but luxurious boutique accommodation.

Large-scale educational facilities were also celebrated: UWA's Ezone building by Hassell received The Hillson Beasley Award for Educational Architecture and an Architecture Award in the Sustainable Architecture category. The project, which blurs the line between inside and outside, was acknowledged for its consideration of solar orientation, natural ventilation and thermal performance.

UWA’s Bilya Marlee building, which houses the School of Indigenous Studies, Centre for Aboriginal Medical and Dental Health, and Poche Centre for Indigenous Health was awarded the Julius Elischer Award for Interior Architecture. Kerry Hill Architects engaged with cultural adviser and Nyoongar Elder Richard Walley throughout the design process. The underlying concept for the design was a swan’s nest – a place of fertility, birth, parenting, and teaching that offered a safe haven. 

“The 2021 WA Architecture Awards demonstrate how architecture helps to build communities and foster our sense of place within the built environment,” said WA Chapter President Peter Hobbs.

“From revitalised heritage buildings to unique accommodation and inspiring educational hubs, there’s been consideration of people, history and cultural heritage throughout the designs.

“The rejuvenation of buildings and places in both metropolitan and regional areas has created memorable experiences, which honour our rich history – with WA Museum Boola Bardip an exemplar of carefully-concepted design making an enormous contribution to the state.”

In total, the jury bestowed 40 honours. Award-winners in each category will now progress to the National Architecture Awards to be announced later this year.

The full list of winners is online.