BDA Architecture has taken out this year’s coveted Building of the Year top gong at the Australian Institute of Architects Awards.

The firm was awarded the highest honour at the Gold Coast/Northern Rivers Regional Awards for the urban design vision of the Sphere Southport Living project in Southport within the Griffith Knowledge precinct.

Sphere Southport Living is a master-planned residential community in the heart of Southport, adjacent to Musgrave Park and within the Griffith Knowledge Precinct. The development was meticulously planned to integrate a mix of contemporary designed apartments and homes on 7.5 hectares featuring modern landscaping, diverse streetscapes and resort-style facilities.

BDA director Darren Greenaway (pictured, left with project manager David Schramm from Howard Thompson Constructions) says the vision behind Sphere was to create a sense of space, openness and community within a medium density site.

“The objective was to provide high quality urban amenity. We created a series of community spaces incorporating a high level of amenity and liveability throughout the project. A green roof top garden on the central community building is a centrepiece of the project reinforcing the quality of life afforded by urban living,” he says.

“The design focus was centred on urban living. The site was already surrounded by parkland and sporting grounds which complemented a feeling of openness we wanted to create. The result is a development that exudes community character with an urban design quality rarely seen in a project of this residential density.

“We were aware of the future plans for the Griffith University Hospital which is why we included direct university access through the Sphere site in the masterplan. Sphere really does set a new model benchmark for future medium housing projects, that as a community we are fast becoming more required to adopt.”

Greenaway says the award would not have been possible were it not for the conceptual vision of Mark Howard who heads The Howard Group.

“The Howard Group were tremendously visionary with the original design concepts that incorporated the green rooftop garden and community feel of the project,” he says.

Howard Group director Mark Howard says to receive such coveted recognition from the nation’s architecture body is a prodigious achievement for the entire design team.

“To receive the Building of The Year award is extremely humbling and I am tremendously proud of the entire Sphere design team for their fantastic work,” says Howard.

Announcing this year's winners was 2011 Queensland Awards Jury Director Malcolm Middleton who says the winning project demonstrates the attributes of higher density, low to medium rise master-planned development with considered community form and landscape amenity.

“The progressive build-out of the project experiments with more sustainable project initiatives, with the last stage introducing a fully trafficable green roof producing measurable energy reductions,” he says.

“The community is responding positively to the calibre of the streets and laneways established in the overall master plan, and which will connect to the large employment nodes of the university and hospital nearby. The body corporate structure is embracing a mix of student and permanent residents in a positive manner."

BDA Architecture is well known for its historic urban design projects across the Gold Coast, including the iconic Sanctuary Cove, Emerald Lakes and The Glades.

The architects have also recently completed the commercial design for the upmarket Capri on Via Roma development project, a new mixed use upmarket retail and commercial precinct located on the water in Isle of Capri.

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