The Australian Embassy in Bangkok won the Jørn Utzon Award for International Architecture in the Australian Institute of Architects (RAIA) National Awards that were announced on 1 November 2018.
The Awards jury noted that the new embassy design refers to the Ken Woolley building it replaced saying “Like its predecessor, the new building successfully combines the identity and elements of two cultures.”
“The ground floor is impacted inside and out by lush landscapes and pools…this relationship between building and water reflects Bangkok’s waterways and exotic gardens, while also suggesting an island continent.”
According to the jury, “The embassy is a tranquil working and living environment, a strong contemporary presence for Australia and a successful symbol of the strength of cultural diplomatic ties.”
Professor Tom Heneghan in his Architecture Australia review of the Embassy design, referred to the use of metaphor to represent a nation diplomatically and noted how, “The atrium, for example, emerged from the architects’ ideas of canyons and, inspired by such lyrical land scenes, they evolved the design’s three-dimensional, collage-like, “painterly” composition.”
Described as “a building from another time” by Professor Heneghan, the embassy was developed with great care in construction, detailing and selection of materials. “As is typical in traditional Thai architecture, both exterior and interior spaces are animated by water, with evaporation mitigating high air temperatures and sunlight reflecting off pools to brighten ceilings and the undersides of canopies,” wrote Professor Heneghan.
“It’s an honour to design an embassy for one’s country – it will stand for decades as a symbol of the culture and sensitivities of Australia,”