The designers of new-look public toilets in the Perth Cultural Centre are flush with success after winning a major national architecture prize last night.
Conglio Ainsworth Architects won the Small Project Architecture prize at the National Architecture Awards with the 2011 lavatory makeover project popularly known as the "Loo-uvre"
The award judges said the Cultural Centre Amenities project, to give its official name, evoked a sense of surprise and delight and added a vibrant, unexpected layer to the precinct.
"The seamless, faceted geometry of the wall, ceiling, bench and skylight surfaces is designed to enhance the play of natural and artificial lighting to create a luminous, crystalline interior that is reminiscent of Kirt Schwitters' architectural/sculptural project The Merzbau and the Robert Wiene film The Cabinet of Dr Caligari," the judges said.
The refit of the toilets, above the Roe Street car park opposite the Art Gallery of WA, was one of three WA projects recognised at the awards, which were held in Perth for the first time in the 31-year history of the Australian Institute of Architects event.
Conglio Ainsworth director Andrew Ainsworth said that although it was just a toilet project, the Cultural Centre setting deserved a better and more rigorous design response.
Vandalism had decreased dramatically since the redesign, Ainsworth told Architecture Record recently. "Hopefully, that is the architecture doing its job," he said.
The architects installed skylights and windows orientated so passers-by could not look in. Each toilet cubicle is coated with a print of an artwork from the nearby gallery's collection, with information about each artist and their work on the inside door for casual reading.
A group-dwelling development in Fremantle by Officer Woods was commended in the Residential Architecture - Multiple Housing category and Bernard Seeber's Hilton Community Centre project was commended in the Urban Design category.
Jury chairman Brian Zulaikha said all winning projects should embody best practice principles, showcase sustainable solutions and ultimately go on to be part of our architectural history.
"We travelled the suburbs of Fremantle, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Hobart and Brisbane, where architects had found a link to their own ideas and created meaningful contributions to the broader community," he said.
Other key award winners included The Sir Zelman Cowen Award for Public Architecture to MONA, the Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart by Fender Katsalidis. The Emil Sodersten Award for Interior Architecture went to The John Kaldor Family Gallery in the Art Gallery of NSW by PTW Architects (NSW). The awards were held at the Midland railway Workshops.