When BVN won the 2011 Sulman Architecture Award at the Australian Institute of Architects Awards last Friday, it became the first architecture practice to win six Sulman awards since the award was first given in 1932. It is 21 years since BVN received their first Sulman award, this latest award was given for the Youth Mental Health Building at the Brain and Mind Research Institute (BMRI) in Camperdown, Sydney.
Described by the awards jury as ‘the standout project in the Public Architecture category for 2011’ they noted that the BMRI building succeeds in ‘uniting patients, carers, clinicians and scientists working in the fields of neuroscience and mental health, in a refreshingly engaging off-campus facility.’
The jury alluded to the competence of the architecture and focused on external and internal elements with comments that included ‘internal public spaces are modest yet delightful, encouraging visitors to feel welcome by the unexpected use of timber in the main stairway, doors, handrails…that anticipate and welcome human touch.’ Concluding their citation the jury noted ‘An absence of architectural conceit cultivates a strong and generous public sensibility,’ resulting in a ‘fine work of public architecture’.
James Grose, BVN National Director said, ‘this building was designed to take into account many diverse requirements and constraints, it had to provide a human scaled and tactile environment for mental health patients on one hand and address an inner-city streetscape that combines residences and the remnants of the industrial character of Camperdown on the other’.
The BMRI is part of the Faculty of Medicine of The University of Sydney focused on research into mental health and clinical issues relating to the brain. Mr Grose commended his clients, particularly Prof Ian Hickie and Prof Max Bennett for their support through the creative and design process of this now highly acclaimed project.