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A Night of Impressive Wins at this Year’s Queensland Architecture Awards

Queensland is a region of diversity – from its culture, to its climates, its geographical features and, its architecture.

When reflecting on our work in this state, we often talk about projects that are ‘quintessentially’ Queensland. But, in a location this varied – this takes form in a multitude of ways.

Cairns Performing Arts Centre responds to its surrounds through colours, filtered light, lush vegetation and its representation of a tropical lifestyle. Head inland – and the Waltzing Matilda Centre also responds to its surrounds, only this time using lyrical, earthy structures made of concrete embedded with opal-bearing rock and rusting steel.

As the Queensland chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects awards wraps up, we see that this approach to locally sensitive architecture is not only important to us – but the public. In what can only be described as an exciting evening for COX’s Brisbane studio, the awards saw three of our projects celebrated with four of the night’s top honours.

Overall, six distinct COX structures either won or were commended by the Institute for their contribution to their people, and their place.

These projects, and their contributions to creating places that are both relevant and inspiring, couldn’t have been possible without close collaborations with our clients and consultants. We extend our congratulations to all involved.

Taking home the highest honour on the night, Cairns Performing Arts Centre by CA Architects and COX was awarded the Queensland Architecture Medallion for the project’s celebration of its tropical location and the cultural diversity of the region. The jury commended the precinct as setting a new benchmark for performing arts centres in Australia.

Jury Chair and Director of Deicke Richards, Eloise Atkinson

CPAC is a significant cultural asset for a city – a public building that will enable more cultural experiences as well as economic growth.

“As well as an architecturally significant building CPAC is a wonderful cultural asset for a city – a public building that enables more cultural experiences and is a catalyst for economic growth,” Atkinson said.

It didn’t end there for CPAC, being awarded the FDG Stanley Award for Public Architecture. In May, the project was also awarded the Eddie Oribin Award for Building of the Year at the AIA’s Far North Regional awards.

The only museum in the world paying homage to a song, the Waltzing Matilda Centre in Winton left the night with an award in the Public Architecture Category. Last month, the project was also named Central Queensland’s building of the year.

The museum is an exuberant celebration of the famous Banjo Paterson ballad – replacing the original structure that burned down in 2015. The Centre embraces its important location on the main street with its dramatic form and subtly introduces the Waltzing Matilda musical score in the battened screen. The raw, earthy expression through both materials and form reflects the harsh and dramatic landscape that inspired Paterson and continues to amaze all those who visit. The story of water and geological formations is represented through the architecture by sophisticated abstraction and rich interiors.

Heading back towards the coast, the curving canopy that makes up the James Cook University Central Plaza can add another four titles to its name – winning at both the regional and state chapter awards.

Awarded the Walter and Oliver Tunbridge Award for Building of the Year at the Far North Queensland Awards, the project also won the Hayes and Scott Award for Small project Architecture at the Queensland Architecture Awards, and the Art and Architecture Award.

A place to pause and relax, bounce ideas from one to another, and host large group gatherings, the central plaza is an academic and social hub. Designed by COX in collaboration with Counterpoint Architecture, and Quandamooka artist Megan Cope, the soffit is constructed of 479 individually printed perforated panels.

Far North Queensland Award Jury

It gives the impression of a floating, moving structure.

Also in Townsville, and standing now as its largest building, Queensland Country Bank Stadium received commendations in public architecture for its inspired locality.

In the rugby league obsessed city of Townsville, the new Queensland Country Bank Stadium has been embraced by the community. The new location has given the venue a much-improved relationship to the CBD and the architecture reflects this with a horseshoe-shaped bowl that generously opens its magnificent roof structure towards the city.

As the visitor moves through the multiple levels, views of the field, the important local landmarks of Castle Hill, Magnetic Island and Mt Stuart ranges are skilfully framed to orientate the visitor and create a sense of place. The striking roof is impressive in its simplicity despite the cyclonic conditions and the extraordinary spans.

Far North Queensland Awards Jury

The elegant roof provides an expressive, playful presence within the Townsville landscape

In the educational architecture category, Brisbane’s first vertical school, Fortitude Valley State Secondary College, received the Jennifer Taylor Award.

“We have seen a particularly strong year in education,” says Eloise Atkinson, describing the winning designs as “high calibre” throughout the state with strong environmental influences from entrants this year.

Designed by COX and documented by ThomsonAdsett, FVSSC responds to the challenges of urban growth and density. Capitalising on its location, the project creates spaces that can be reconceptualised and activated, fostering student and staff engagement, partnerships, and community engagement.

The project also received a commendation in the educational architecture category at the Brisbane Regional Awards.

Transurban Workplace took home the Award for Interior Architecture at the local chapter awards, also being awarded a commendation for interior architecture at the Brisbane Regional Awards.

Transurban is all about ‘keeping you moving,’ researching, designing, and operating some of the world’s largest infrastructure projects. Their connection to the urban environment is explored throughout our design, creating a space that reflects Transurban’s global presence and purpose. Working across Australia, the United States and Canada, the Brisbane workplace maintains the overarching global character of the company – but through a distinctly Queensland lens.




Fortitude Valley State Secondary College


Cairns Performing Arts Centre


Waltzing Matilda Centre


Queensland Country Bank Stadium


Transurban Workplace | Interiors