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Michael Heenan at World Architecture Festival Awards

Australian architect Michael Heenan will be jetting off to Barcelona in November to judge the 2011 World Architecture Festival Awards.

Michael Heenan at World Architecture Festival Awards


March 31st, 2011

Somewhere amidst his work as Principal at Allen Jack + Cottier, a regular radio gig, sailing the world in a 52-foot yacht and getting up at the crack of dawn to go surfing, Michael Heenan will find the time to take part in the Grand Jury at the World Architecture Festival Awards this year.

For Heenan, who was also on the jury last year, the Awards are “a real contribution to thinking and talking about architecture.”

Heenan believes strongly in the important role that this thought and dialogue plays within the industry.

He describes putting one’s work up against that of others as a vital validation and reinforcement of an architect’s work, following on from “that private moment when you’re nutting out a problem, to the studio environment in the office when you’re working on a project and challenging yourself – and then you release it like a baby out into the public.”


Heenan himself took out the sports category award at the 2009 ceremony for Allen Jack + Cottier’s Berry Sports Hall, which he describes as “a small Australian project with a tiny budget, a lot of thinking and a lot of care” – beating out the renowned Wimbledon Centre Court Redevelopment and Atlantic Health Jets Training Facility.



Photography by Nic Bailey

“[The win] reinforced that Australia has a wealth of excellent architects and designers,” says Heenan.

“The level of understanding and integration of ESD, the understanding of the microclimate, the care and thought in each project – Australians are way up there. We’re holding our own worldwide extremely well.”

When judging this year’s projects, Heenan will be looking for architects who have provided “a concise understanding of the problem, and a really good solution to the problem.”

“It’s also about lifting yourself above the programmatic and becoming poetic about it. There are a lot of good architects around the world who can do a lot of good work, but to get beyond that and start being philosophical and poetic about it – that’s a thing that comes with great skill and experience.”

The most important aspect of the Awards, however, will be the thought and reflection they provoke.

“The competition is not so important; winning is not so important. But the getting together and discussing architecture is very important,” Heenan says.

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