The City of Boroondara is renowned for its leafy residential streetscapes and vibrant shopping strips. Our neighbourhoods are recognised and appreciated for their heritage significance, distinctive sense of place and visual appeal. Our shopping strips are attractive and lively. 

The Urban Design Awards aim to:

  • Celebrate and encourage excellence in urban design and high quality architecture which makes a notable contribution to Boroondara’s character.
  • Increase the community’s awareness of the benefits of good urban design and the enhancement to Boroondara’s public environment.

These guidelines have been prepared to assist nominees with the submission of entries in any of the five categories. Projects eligible for an award are required to have been completed within the last two years (between 2018-2020) and to have required a planning permit from Council. 

Key dates

  • 13 February 2020: nominations open
  • 28 April 2020: nominations deferred
  • TBC: nominations resume
  • TBC: nominations close
  • TBC: judging sessions
  • TBC: winners announced

Award categories

The 2020 awards are offered in five categories: 

  • Best heritage extensions, additions and alterations.
  • Best small-scale residential development.
  • Best medium-scale multi-dwelling residential development.
  • Best non-residential development.
  • Best apartment/mixed-use development.

Assessment criteria

Each award entry will be assessed against the following criteria:

Good fit and response to context 

  • Responsive design outcome with good relationship to context and sensitivity to neighbours.
  • Respectful development which harmoniously blends with existing streetscapes and significant places/landscapes. 

Contribution to the public realm

  • Positive contribution to and integration with adjoining streets, public spaces and the public realm in general. 
  • The level of activity and animation generated by the development to promote a healthy, safe, vibrant and pleasant public environment and experience.
  • Any additional community benefit brought by the development such as enhanced public realm conditions and any cultural and social benefits including public art.    

Excellence in design 

  • Exemplary design outcome with high-quality contemporary architecture and refined attention to detail.
  • Innovative and creative design which challenges conventional thinking and explores new ways of doing things to achieve high design standards. 
  • Ensuring a balanced level of visual consistency and variety.   
  • Employing high-quality materials and finishes which complement and enhance the visual quality and richness of the entire area.


  • An integrated approach to sustainability making the best use of the site attributes, local materials and existing buildings; one which embeds sustainability in the design thinking and process. 
  • A sustainable practice which challenges the status quo and investigates innovative technologies in the design and construction, above and beyond industry standards.  

Robustness and continuity 

  • Maintaining the unique sense of a place by embracing change yet respecting its heritage values.
  • A resilient and robust building capable of being adapted in the future for other purposes. 
  • Retaining living heritage through sensitive, careful adaptive reuse; setting a fine example for how new works (including restoration, extensions or additions) and upgrades to heritage places respect a property’s history. 

Access and inclusion

  • Achieving an excellent level of access and safety for all users.
  • Design should be inclusive and creative in applying accessibility standards in a way which enables dignified use, ease of access and lifestyle choices for all people.   

Integrated approach to landscape design 

  • Recognising and enhancing the qualities which give the place its valued identity and distinctive character such as existing significant trees and landscape features. 
  • Demonstrating a high level of sensitive site planning in which landscape is resolved as an integral part of the whole design and an intrinsic feature for a successful integration with the existing streetscape.     

Judging panel

The judging panel is made up of Boroondara councillors and urban design experts. They are (pictured from left to right) Councillor Lisa Hollingsworth, Craig Czarny (Hansen Partnership), Councillor Cynthia Watson, Rob McGauran (MGS Architects) and Councillor Garry Thompson.

The five Urban Design Awards judges sit at a table

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