BlueScope Steel Glenn Murcutt Student Prize: James Hargrave

2017 National Prizes

Australian Institute of Architects


Jury citation:

The jury unanimously awards the 2017 BlueScope Steel Glenn Murcutt Student Prize to James Hargrave of the University of New South Wales, for his proposition titled “Space Between.”

Mr Hargrave’s project is concerned with the relationship between housing and community, and is a sensitive urban proposition integrating architecture and landscape. Generated from a deep understanding of the geomorphology of Sydney Harbour, the urban form displays a unique and specific sensibility relating to dwelling on the water’s edge.

This proposal for urban housing on the southern edge of the Balmain peninsula, adjacent to Glebe Island, accommodates three unique typologies in response to the local demographic – families, professional couples and the elderly. Exercise circuits, community gardens, playgrounds and outdoor entertaining spaces strengthen the local social and community environment. With further development, a more intense tree canopy could benefit the project, as could greater integration with the adjacent community.

The foreshore design reflects the character of Sydney’s sandstone rockpools and facilitates a way of life for summertime on the water’s edge: swimming, barbecues, fishing, canoeing on still water – the essence of Sydney Harbour. Great sensitivity is displayed in the use of forms and materials, with two primary systems of building: heavy concrete grounded elements contrasted with lightweight framed components. Environmentally responsive passive design considerations have underpinned the design thinking, as have strategies for flexibility and adaptation to changing occupation patterns. The urban fabric is intertwined with pedestrian streets, access ways, stairs and ramps, employing a consistency of materials and delight of experience through spatial modulation and contrasting light and shade.

This project demonstrates that urban density can be achieved in a way that is responsive to the urban fabric of inner Sydney, at an appropriate scale and with a landscape that engages with our wonderful harbour.

Mr Hargrave developed his award-winning project in the Architecture & Housing studio led by Alison Nobbs, one of 4 stream specialisations in the new Master of Architecture curriculum. The Master of Architecture Graduation Studio  “Utopia Redux”, was led by Dr Russell Rodrigo.


Ken Maher LFRAIA (Chair) President, Australian Institute of Architects, Fellow, Hassell; Glenn Murcutt AO LFRAIA; Peter Nguyen 2016 Student Prize for the Advancement of Architecture winner


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