Devarni's high rise design reaches new heights with national award win

19 November 2021

CQUniversity student' Devarni Keech recently received the Student Award for Best Response to a Design Brief at the 2021 Design Matters National Building Design Awards.

The online award ceremony' held on Thursday' 28 October 2021' showcased building designs from professionals and students around Australia.

"I felt a real sense of achievement to be recognised by the industry that I'm hoping to enter'" Ms Keech said.

"I am also pleased that CQUniversity is preparing up-and-coming designers to be able to address current issues such as climate change and affordable housing' through considered building-design practices."

The final year Bachelor of Building Design student was recognised for her innovative high rise building design on the riverbank in Rockhampton.

"The building I entered was the one I designed for my Building Design 2 class in 2020.

"It involved a multi-level' multi-use complex' with commercial spaces and community spaces on the first three levels and a mix of two- and three-bedroom apartments on levels three to ten'" Ms Keech explained.

"There is a publicly-accessed green area on level two and a communal garden area for the residences on level three. The rooftop green space also accommodates a pool."

The Judges critiqued the entry on how well it satisfied the following three criteria: Design brief and Site response' Design Excellence and Innovation and Sustainability considerations. The submission required a site plan' floor plans' sections and elevations' coloured perspectives as well as a written description of the project.

Ms Keech said she based the design on underlying passive sustainable principles' with a mindful approach to water sustainability and aesthetics which caught the attention of the judges.

"They especially commented on how my design met all aspects of the design brief and said they loved the curves and the movement of the building"

"The living areas are all orientated to the north and protected from the harsh western sun. The elevations really stand out as I created an innovative water reticulation system in the form of a moat around the roof level' with two water walls down the south and north walls terminating in in water collection bioswales to be pumped back around the building' and four very large solar-clad water-catching canopies."

She explained that she hoped to utilise the knowledge from her award-winning design' alongside her career work and study' to be able to design for environmental and social sustainability.

"I never intended to have a career in building design. It was while travelling that I was introduced to varied examples of sustainable buildings where communities live off-grid and thrive' such as Mongolian Gers and mudbrick homes and schools in Laos.

"These piqued my interest to understand more about this kind of design and how' if incorporated here in Australia' new design approaches could lead to buildings that require minimal or no mechanical heating and cooling - to do this I needed to learn how."

The Melbourne resident said the fully online course allowed her to complete the course from anywhere in Australia and helped her to maintain a strong work-life balance. She thanked CQUniversity for their support and credited her lecturers for giving her the confidence to enter the Design Matters National Building Design Awards.

"The first year was a steep learning curve' juggling online learning and full-time work' I realised I needed to be well-organised. The last 20 months of continual lockdown was definitely made easier with the support of the university both with learning' and additional services available to students.

"During this time' I was very fortunate to have a lecturer' Stephanie Flowers' who I also consider my mentor' that provided me with not only guidance' motivation and direction but also looked out for my well-being.

"I've loved every bit of the Building Design course. It has made me feel confident in my ability to design in a way that minimises running cost and employs environmentally sustainable design principles."

2021 Design Matters National Building Design Awards from Design Matters National on Vimeo.