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ACT picks up three national architecture awards

Known for her simplified, sustainable and affordable home designs, Canberra’s Sarah Lebner has been awarded the prestigious National Emerging Architect Prize at the 2020 Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) National Awards tonight, Thursday 5 November.

Ms Lebner was joined on the winners’ list by two ACT-based projects: Hill Thalis Architecture + Urban Projects received the national award for Urban Design for their Campbell Section 5 Master Plan; and Kudjla/ Gangalu artist Daniel Boyd (in collaboration with Melbourne-based architecture studio Edition Office) took home the Nicholas Murcutt Award for Small Project Architecture for For Our Country, a mural tribute to the First Nations servicemen and women, located at the Australian War Memorial.

Ms Lebner received this national recognition for her contribution to the next generation of architecture and design.

Having been rapidly promoted since joining the unique Canberra-based interdisciplinary firm Light House Architecture & Science shortly after graduation, Ms Lebner is now Principal Architect and leads a team of 11, under the directorship of building scientist, Jenny Edwards. 

AIA national president and Jury chair, Alice Hampson, said while many architects dream of making architecture more accessible, “Sarah is actually doing it”.

“Sarah’s work simplifying sustainable design for homebuilders and making thoughtfully designed, energy efficient homes part of the mainstream could revolutionise Australia’s domestic building industry.”

Winning a plethora of awards, Ms Lebner’s work has also influenced the development of national energy efficiency policy and regulation in the built environment, including the National Construction Code.

The Jury noted that Ms Lebner “exhibits an energy and focus beyond her years.”

“Sarah’s generous vision of an architecture for the masses is underpinned by her dedication to climate-change responsiveness,” the Jury remarked.

“Sarah’s munificent desire to give back to the profession is also reflected in her commitment to young architects entering the industry.”

Ms Lebner’s contribution to the architectural profession is evident both domestically and internationally.

Abroad, she has volunteered on construction projects in Kenya and the Solomon Islands, and at home she has co-chaired the Institute of Architects ACT Gender Equity Committee.

She has held leadership roles with the Institute’s divisions for architecture students (SONA) and architecture graduates (EmAGN), is a councillor for the Institute’s ACT Chapter and has previously served as a member of its Small Practice Group Committee.

Ms Lebner has tutored at the University of Canberra, in Sustainable Technology, Architecture Practice, and Post Graduate Design Studio, and sits on the UC Architecture Program Course Advisory Group.

As the prize-winner, Ms Lebner receives a $2,000 cash prize and a national tour.

Jury chair and immediate past national president, Professor Helen Lochhead, said in a year that has seen Australians interact more with their immediate built environment than ever before, projects that go above and beyond, enlivening their surroundings were the ones to receive the nation’s top architectural honours.

“Projects at this level are all accomplished, but it was the projects that could demonstrate their value beyond the limits of the brief or the confines of the site that the Jury selected for national recognition,” Prof Lochhead said. 

“Creative adaptation, along with social and environmental sustainability featured strongly as themes running through this year’s award-winning projects.

“In the context of the pandemic and a rapidly changing climate, it is clear we need to be designing in new ways and many of these projects show that architects are uniquely positioned to adapt and meet these challenges,” she said.

Kudjla/Gangalu artist Daniel Boyd (in collaboration with Melbourne-based architecture studio Edition Office) received the Nicholas Murcutt Award for Small Project Architecture for ‘For Our Country‘, a mural tribute to the First Nations servicemen and women, located at the Australian War Memorial. Photo: Kerrie Brewer.

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