Roger Beeston, RBA Architects










RBA Director and Principal Architect, Roger Beeston, is honoured to have chaired the Heritage Jury of the Australian Institute of Architects (Victorian) awards committee for the recently presented 2020 Victorian Architecture Awards.

While 2020 required dexterity from all the jurors, Roger was heartened by the rigour of the deliberative process and the variety of submissions for the heritage design category.

The number of sites subject to adaptive re-use or revitalisation that derived from the late inter-war and post-war years was notable. More than ever, it seems that ‘mid-century modern’ is in the advanced stage of shattering the glass ceiling of what is both popularly and professionally considered as worthy of conservation within our historic environments.

Additionally, it is pleasing to observe the extent to which the typically secluded interests and motivations of the heritage architect and forensic conservator have jumped lanes and now appear integral to any project seeking sustainable, meaningful interaction with the built heritage.

All this made the role of juror equal parts reward and challenge.

Collectively, as a firm, we were excited by the manner threads of adaptive re-use and conservation, both in terms of environmental and built heritage, were interwoven across the multiple award categories. That sites not subject to statutory heritage protection, were the scene of such actions is intriguing. Is it a sign that professional and popular understandings of what counts as ‘heritage’ are shifting, even maturing?

Headlining this course was the revitalisation of the 1960s suburban Broadmeadows townhall by Kerstin Thompson Architects—the recipient of both the Victorian Architecture Medal and The John George Knight Award (Heritage). This redevelopment, at a place yet ‘unlisted’ but of meaning and memory to the people of the area, breaks new ground in the revival of civic places. It also, at least to RBA, presents as a powerful endorsement of the virtue of contextual design and informed intervention.

We take heart from one of the underlying messages of the AIA heritage awards; that sound conservation practice demands a precise and broad understanding of place. One that ranges beyond fabric and stylistic appraisal but examines the contours of socio-political and environmental history as well as the fluid fields of memory and feeling. In our minds, this is the approach that provides the basis for implementing considered, contextual, and contemporary change.

The recent Architect Victoria contains the jury citations and is available here.

To read and see more about the 2020 AIA awards see this press release from the AIAand the insightful commentary of architectural journalist Ray Edgar here.

02 September 2020

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