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AIA NSW Country Division Awards - Two accolades for Urana Aquatic Leisure Centre



We were honoured to receive a Commendation for Public Architecture and the Vision Award for the Urana Aquatic Leisure Centre at the 2021 Australian Institute of Architects NSW Country Division Awards that were held online recently.


Our Directors Aaron Nicholls and Phillip Nielsen were thrilled and surprised to receive the Vision Award - which recognises the skills and endeavours of NSW Country Division Architects to deliver greater outcomes for regional and rural communities.


“We feel very proud that this project has been recognised in these Awards. The Vision Award is testament to the Urana community’s drive to make this building a reality. It has been a joy to collaborate with them these past 4 years. We’ve formed lasting friendships with so many in the town.” said Aaron.


Regional Design Service first met with community members in 2018 to discuss the idea of creating a new community hall and events space for their town. Working together, the group successfully gained grant funding for the project within 12 months and embarked on designing the facility to include a community gym, meeting room, commercial kitchen and 100 person function room. The project is evidence of what can be achieved with a successful collaboration between the Architects, the community, Local Council, and Contractors.


The Jury said of the project: “The Urana Aquatic Leisure Centre showcases and achieves the unwavering spirit of local community. It strikes a balance between commercial imperatives with design flourish and practicality. On display, a community collaborating with the architect to achieve their endeavours in a bold and articulate expression of a modern day hub.”




Inspiration for the building was drawn for the picturesque site and maximises views of the lake and surrounding bushland. Utilising simple construction techniques, the building is a homage to historic farmhouses of the region; many designed by regionally notable Architect A. C. Macknight.


“Quality design that gives communities a sense of pride in the places they call home is what we stand for and will continue to pursue in the projects we deliver for the regions. From day one, this project has been about community ownership across the design process – from conception to delivery. The project is proof that a successful collaboration between Community, Council and Architects can result in better built outcomes alongside increased community ownership and pride.” said Phillip.




Federation Council General Manager Adrian Butler commended Regional Design Service and all project stakeholders following the 2021 Australian Institute of Architects NSW Country Division Awards.


"This is an amazing achievement for all involved in this project," he said. "The Urana Aquatic Centre Leisure Building is no doubt a drawcard for our region and is a fine example of the success you can experience when you work collaboratively to ensure a vision such as this comes to fruition. I look forward to seeing the community and visitors enjoying this state of the art facility for many years to come."




About the Vision Award


Projects can be built or unbuilt in NSW, interstate and overseas, not type specific, could be conceptual, could be consultancy/advice lead, could be community art-based, could involve `change leadership’, could be a masterplan, could be a building overseas.

The purpose of this award is to showcase the skills and capacity of NSW Country Division Architects, ideally in community focused endeavours but also to recognise projects that may not easily fit the main awards whilst still providing credibility to what we do as a broader organisation.


Jury Citations


Vision Award

The Urana Aquatic Leisure Centre showcases and achieves the unwavering spirit of local community. It strikes a balance between commercial imperatives with design flourish and practicality. On display, a community collaborating with the architect to achieve their endeavours in a bold and articulate expression of a modern day hub.


There is a strong concept underlying the traditional rural form of this project which pays homage to its agricultural past, with its expansive farmhouse roofs that hover on the sun-baked horizon. The building was designed to be of simple construction techniques and in the form of 3 connecting pavilions which are tucked in alongside facilities and covered outdoor spaces.


The uniquely proportioned roof changes in visual scale from various vantage points and houses a tranquil oasis within its suburban surrounding.


The Urana Aquatic Leisure Centre delivers a unique public experience by accommodating a gym, meeting rooms, catering kitchen, a function room, and various aquatic amenities. An all-encompassing development that successfully redefines its community and adds value to its surrounding neighbourhood.


Commendation for Public Architecture


The Urana Aquatic Leisure Centre provides a new community facility at the Urangeline Creek Aquatic Area. Rather than build a large ‘shed’ the concept developed was to break the building into three ‘pavilions’ with connected roof forms of smaller scale.


The three interconnected pavilions not only provide a unique exterior for this community centre, but provide also internal separation for a gym, meeting and function spaces. Each pavilion has a unique vaulted ceiling, enhancing the spatial qualities while also being positioned to maximise views of the stunning creek surrounding. A high level of attention was paid to ensure every space, including storage areas were optimised to create a truly multifunctional and practical facility.


The built form articulates an example of modest building typology into an outcome that offers so much more for the public than is normally delivered for community buildings of this type.

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