NSW Architecture Awards: an elegant building that resolves a difficult site

Iglu Summer Hill

Winner of state's top residential housing award

Iglu Summer Hill was awarded the State’s top honours for Residential Architecture – Multiple Housing in this year’s Australian Institute of Architects NSW Awards program.


Winner of the Aaron Bolot Named Award, Iglu Summer Hill is a student accommodation community in the heart of Summer Hill village, in close proximity to Summer Hill train station, and adjacent to the Darrell Jackson Gardens and the local shopping precinct. The site’s existing heritage-listed Western Suburbs District Ambulance Station building has been restored and re-purposed as part of the project. The new buildings are carefully designed to improve street activation and sit sympathetically within their park, village and heritage settings.

Iglu Summer Hill accommodates 184 studios, with self-contained kitchens and bathrooms. Inside, diverse communal spaces provide residential amenity, support study and promote a strong sense of community. At the core, a generous landscaped courtyard has excellent access to sunlight and provides shelter from train and traffic noise. Elsewhere, landscaping plays a key role in defining open circulation corridors, establishing a cohesive green edge with the adjoining park and ensuring visual privacy for students.


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The jury cited Iglu as “an elegant new courtyard building that resolves a difficult site in Summer Hill, repurposing an existing heritage-listed Ambulance station on Carlton Crescent. Each frontage responds well to its immediate context; a landscaped edge on the public reserve, a smart new façade against a drab shopping centre and a spacious accessway that provides light and ventilation along a blank side wall of adjoining building.

Inside, social and communal spaces enjoy northern aspect and open to a generous landscaped courtyard garden. This courtyard is the focus of the scheme, with both the communal areas and the majority of rooms opening to it. 184 studios with self-contained kitchens and bathrooms, are compact yet cleverly designed to maximise the student amenity, with beds that double as sofas set into bay windows. The majority of rooms enjoy east or west orientation and breezeways provide fresh air to all single loaded corridors.

The architecture is sophisticated and robust, with the rawness of the off-form concrete and face brick relieved by the contrasting crisp metalwork and window boxes. The same palette of base materials forms the interiors shell, balanced by the warm timber joinery, landscaping and furniture throughout the communal and social ground floor.”

View the Winner’s Gallery at the Australian Institute of Architects.