Swings and roundabouts: Futuristic playground sweeps prizes at architecture awards

The Greater Brisbane Regional Architecture awards were announced Friday and the biggest winner of the evening was Bradbury Park Playscape by Alcorn Middleton in Kedron. 

May 07, 2024, updated May 07, 2024
Bradbury Park Playscape
(photo: Christopher Frederick Jones)

Bradbury Park Playscape (photo: Christopher Frederick Jones)

Held at Howard Smith Wharves, the annual Greater Brisbane Regional Architecture Awards celebrate the ingenuity and talent of Brisbane architects across multiple sectors including education, commercial, heritage and residential design. All commended projects honoured at the event are now shortlisted from the Australian Institute of Architects’ Queensland Architecture Awards which will be judged and awarded in June. 

The Bradbury Park Playscape, designed by Alcorn Middleton, took home four accolades including  the John Dalton Award for Building of the Year, the Greater Brisbane People’s Choice Award and two Commendations (for Public Architecture and Urban Design). 

The playscape was praised for its accessibility and inclusivity particularly in its design focus on  innovative play for teens (often overlooked in the design of public spaces). The Brisbane City Council commended the design as  “a new benchmark for both government and private industry in the provision of innovative play for older children”. 

Bradbury Park Playscape
(photo: Christopher Frederick Jones)

Located in Kedron on Brisbane’s northside, the playscape provides children with opportunities to challenge themselves via different modes of play —  including a mix of high-level activity zones, quiet hide-away spaces and more social areas. Building of the Year jury members praised the architects’ “pioneering approach to playground planning” and their ability to “reimagine the traditional park and playground typology”

Other big winners from the evening include Kangaroo Point House by Neilson Jenkins which is the Greater Brisbane House of the Year. 

Nominated in the category of alterations and additions, the architects were said to have deftly  delivered on the clients’ brief to feel more engaged with the streetscape-slash-community. This lowset home has been slightly raised and now features a two-storey void. The jury said, “The house sinks into the landscape, with the new lower spaces slightly below street level, creating a constant connection to an enveloping garden that provides separation and privacy.”

Kangaroo Point House (photo: Shantanu Starick)

According to the homeowner, “the reaction of first-time visitors is my favourite. The house is relatively unremarkable from the street, and doesn’t give any clue to the unexpected fabulousness behind the front door!”

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The Greenhouse, designed by Blight Rayner Architecture, and Rivière, designed by Bates Smart, each took home the 2024 Lord Mayor’s Brisbane Buildings that Breathe Architecture Commendation, which recognises outstanding achievement in architecture for buildings that demonstrate strong alignment with Brisbane City Council’s New World City Design.

Rivière (photo: Cieran Murphy)

Rivière, a new multi-residential complex in Kangaroo Point, was praised by the jury for clever features such as true cross-ventilated circulatory spaces “… rare at this scale of development in Queensland,”  and references in the design’s sawtooth tower to the natural faceted forms of Kangaroo Point’s iconic cliffs.

The Greenhouse (Photo: Christopher Frederick Jones)

Meanwhile, The Greenhouse,  located in the West Village precinct, is an eight-level office building originally intended as apartments. The architects advocated for commercial use to enhance daytime activation in the area. The jury applauded, “Architects and structural engineers creatively addressed the redesign challenges, adapting existing foundations to the new program and adding a well-designed façade out of simple components articulated in response to the orientation, views, and privacy of the adjacent neighbouring residential apartments.”

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