Australian firms shortlisted for 10 interior design gongsArup Sydney designed by Hassell for a collaborative work culture. Photo: Hassell

Australian firms shortlisted for 10 interior design gongs at Inside Festival 2021

Running as a concurrent event at one of the world’s biggest annual building design forums, the Inside Festival considers the latest developments in the aspects of architecture that we interact with on a tactile and temporal level.

The spaces, the materials, the lighting by which we work, the surfaces we sit at and on; the arrangements of all the facilities and the movement that is subliminally orchestrated through them because of the way they’ve been set up … that’s interior design.

This ancillary event to the World Architecture Festival is held at the same time and in the same venue. Like the mighty WAF, COVID-19 caused it to be cancelled last year and collapsed two years of entries into the one event that will – likely – be judged before peers and international jurists in Lisbon, Portugal from December 1-3.

The shortlists have just been announced with 111 projects from 23 countries competing in 11 different categories that include houses as singular entities and as multiple developments.

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John Holland's new flagship office in Melbourne. Photo: Decibel Architecture

Australian firms have a shortlist tally of 10 in only a few categories of what is a much smaller collection of subjects than the vast WAF.

One locally spawned firm that now has multiple global studios, Hassell, also has multiple shortlistings, including two in the one grouping of Workplace (Large).

They include engineering firm Arup’s Sydney offices and – with the same emphasis towards an open plan that fosters fruitful people-to-people interactions in bright, supportive and apparently relaxed spaces – Transurban’s Melbourne headquarters.

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Sydney Coliseum Theatre by Cox Architecture. Photo: Cox Architecture

Being a transport firm, it is apt that paved pathways weave past freestanding office pavilions that lend the whole place an instant air of informality.

Another standout Australian finalist in the same Workplace (Large) field is the superbly sited and sumptuously appointed Flinders Gate New Home building by Decibel Architecture, which is John Holland’s new headquarters overlooking Melbourne’s Federation Square.

Woods Bagot is in the same grouping with its CBA Axle South Eveleigh building in Sydney.

As it already has a WAF shortlisting for the wonderful elliptical landmark on Sydney’s Broadway that is UTS’s Central building, so design firm fjmt has a parallel chance for the structure’s interiors in the Education sector.

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Cabrini Hospital Gandel Wing makes the design statement the calm atmosphere of healing. Photo: Bates Smart

In Workplace (Small) the ever-competitive Smart Design Studio is shortlisted for its own new office space in Sydney.

In the Public Buildings grouping, Cox Architecture’s 2000 seat Sydney Coliseum, in Sydney’s Rooty Hill, is a vast auditorium where the interior detailing has been about amping what the firm describes as “the hierarchy of the drama”.

Designed to do exactly the opposite and competing in the Health and Fitness arena is Bates Smarts’ $120 million new wing at the Cabrini Hospital in Malvern, Melbourne. So luxurious that its amenity approaches five-star hotel luxury – with all the machines that go “beep” kept as behind the scenes as far as possible – the new Gandel Wing follows “salutogenic principles”. That means it’s all about visual and experiential coherence and making the whole a place of calm and healing.

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The treasure in this dark cave is in the illuminated mirrored box. Photo: Sean Fennessy

It probably deserves a category of utter originality but Russell and George’s unforgettable store made as a black cave is representing Australia in the Retail category, along with Benoy’s remodelling of David Jones Sydney.

The Melbourne branch of the jewellery manufacturer and retailer Sarah & Sebastian was inspired by a cave diving experience had by company director Sarah Gittoes.

The retail version is a crumpled, shiny-surfaced space with scant lighting over mirrored cabinets of jewellery. Extraordinary.

In the field of 17 retail entries, China has taken up 12 of the shortlistings.

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