Australian Institute of Architects Queensland President Shane Thompson announced last night that the Ecovillage in Currumbin had won the Australian Institute of Architects 2013 QLD President’s Prize. He said, “This is a truly landmark development, achieved with a vision, tenacity and inspiring commitment rarely seen in the development and building industry. Now home to a thriving and highly engaged community of over 200 people and still growing, it’s success and international reputation is highly deserved. There have been many naysayers from the time of it’s inception and even still today, but you can almost be certain that most of those have never visited, talked to the residents or have been prepared to set side their preconceptions. There is an undeniable spirit, a sense of shared values and community whose actions every day make a positive contribution to to the wider world. At a time where the words sustainability, green development, environmentally and ecologically friendly, placemaking and community are exploited and abused, and sprinkled over what are really tokenistic gestures to business as usual and where so called ratings agencies are too ready to avoid the hard or important issues, the Currumbin Eco Village quietly, but determinedly puts most of them all to shame. Is it perfect, of course not. Neither does it preach or engage in didactic rhetoric. It is a living, breathing real community, not just another sub-division selling itself as a community. Notwithstanding it’s undeniable credentials and frontiering efforts in demonstrating that there is another way, profitable, architecturally and ecologically sensitive, I believe that perhaps it’s greater achievement and one which is as profound as any, is it’s creation of real community, where safety, security, volunteerism and neighbourliness have naturally evolved in a way other developers and government can only dream of. Such communities demand less of the public purse, are more self-policing, where vandalism is non-existent, where nature and people co-habitate in an easy open and relaxed lifestyle. There are so many lessons for all of us, that space and time do not permit me to list them.
My recent visit to the Currumbin Eco Village was as uplifting for me as any visit to any great work of architecture, natural wonder or historic place that I have ever made. However in making this award, there is a certain melancholy in knowing that the person whose generous and gracious vision brought about this place cannot be with us tonight. Chris Walton was tragically lost in a freakish accident not long ago. But Chris, I think, knew that what he had started, and the values and spirit so warmly invested in and nurtured by him and his partner Kerry Shepherd, and with the support of his colleague Colin Bear was now standing on its own, with a community that had assumed custodianship which will endure beyond him or any other individual. The Currumbin Eco Village is one of the great achievements of contemporary Queensland. It remains the benchmark achievement in sustainable community development in Australia and the many, many experts and researchers from around the world who continue to visit attest to that, so it’s a privilege for me to make this President’s award to the this community and I trust that it’s example will be seen as part of the new way of thinking that demands more serious attention as we seek to make better communities in the future.”
Shane Thompson Australian Institute of Architects Queensland President, 7 November 2013
To read about the other awards go to: Awards List