What, if anything, can be made of the Gold Coast Urban Design Awards?
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The notion upon which this discussion about urban design awards at the Gold Coast starts, parallels Neville Quarry's thoughts about architecture awards. Quarry saw awards as a body of work accepted by the establishment as representing best practice (a canon) and that they are based upon published criteria. Certainly there are published criteria for the Gold Coast Urban Design Awards. Also present are leading respected figures of the professions and community (the establishment) who exercise judgement when selecting awards that are deemed to represent best practice, the canon. But an analysis of the awards since their inception in 1998 suggests that there are several further layers to the discourse beyond canon and criteria. Closer scrutiny presents questions about the politics of urban design, about urban design theory and practice and broadly about the maturity of the discipline. Gold Coast Urban Design Award projects and the Australia Award for Urban Design projects appear to recognise different aspects of the built environment, giving different messages to the respective audiences. The Gold Coast awards range across more project types than the Australia awards but only two national awards from the professions have gone to Gold Coast projects and none from the Australia Awards regime; possibly supporting a conclusion that at the Gold Coast, urban design is practiced more as an ordinary field of professional design work than as a discipline with recognised 'canon'. This paper explores these themes as OPEN questions under the banner of: what, if anything can be made of Gold Coast Urban Design Awards? With apologies to the late Tom Heath's title 'What, if anything, is an Architect' .
Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand OPEN: The Thirtieth Annual Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand, proceedings
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Architectural History and Theory