A Riverina building designed to fulfil a long-held community dream has earned accolades for achieving just that.
The Urana Aquatic Leisure Centre won the Vision Award and received a Commendation for Public Architecture at the 2021 Australian Institute of Architects NSW Country Division Awards.
Judges said the project, created by Corowa-based Regional Design Service, "showcases and achieves the unwavering spirit of local community".
"It strikes a balance between commercial imperatives with design flourish and practicality," the jury said.
"On display, a community collaborating with the architect to achieve their endeavours in a bold and articulate expression of a modern day hub."
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Regional Design Service directors Aaron Nicholls and Phillip Nielsen said they were pleased and surprised to take out the Vision Award, which they hadn't actually officially entered.
The centre, three connecting pavilions measuring nearly 300sq m, comprises a community gym, meeting room, commercial kitchen and 100-person function room.
Mr Nicholls and Mr Nielsen first met with Urana community members in 2018 to discuss their plans for a new hall and events space.
Urana Aquatic Leisure Centre secretary/treasurer Katrina Dore said when committee members talked about wanting three separate, lockable areas, they "visualised a big shed".
But instead came "a gorgeous design" featuring water views that is now being utilised by residents and visitors.
"We had 15 caravanners a couple of weeks ago; they were all card players and they wanted somewhere to go to play their cards so they hired it out for three days," Mrs Dore said.
"And we had a local wedding on Friday, which was very exciting."
Mr Nielsen said the lakeside setting influenced their design.
"All the colours in the interior are actually inspired by the bark of the river gums that are surrounding the building," he said.
"We've all seen a big roof on a farmhouse or a shed, but the way that it's been arranged and the three pavilions twisted 45 degrees just puts a new play on it, so it feels familiar but it's oddly different.
"What we feel is that it draws the viewer in to explore it and discover it more."
Federation Council general manager Adrian Butler said the design award was an amazing achievement for everyone involved.
"The Urana Aquatic Centre Leisure Building is no doubt a drawcard for our region and is a fine example of the success you can experience when you work collaboratively to ensure a vision such as this comes to fruition," he said.
Mr Nicholls said the trust shown in them by the residents and their ongoing involvement brought particular satisfaction.
"It was the completion of a really lovely vision that Urana's had for a few decades now, and people are coming," he said.
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