Designed by a leading Australian practice Conrad Gargett, The Piano Mill has been awarded winner of the Completed Buildings – Culture category at the World Architecture Festival (WAF) 2018 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The structure was awarded the accolade because it was an original and stimulating idea, specifically the intersection of architecture’s role in the environment of cultural buildings, that stirred the imagination of the jury.

Conrad Gargett’s Company Chair, Architect Bruce Wolfe stated, “We are exceptionally proud that The Piano Mill has won this wonderful accolade in the World Architecture Festival 2018 awards. This authentically-Australian project celebrates the culture of early colonial settlement in our country, demonstrates an entwined collaboration of art, music and architecture, as well as pioneering music composition.”

Wolfe explained, “Conrad Gargett provides a fertile platform for creativity and innovative thinking that allows for the invention of such projects as The Piano Mill, an original concept that both explores the intersection of environment and music, art and architecture, and celebrates the importance of the piano to early European settlement in Australia.”

In June 2018, WAF announced the shortlist for their 2018 awards, with more than 1000 entries including cinemas, concert halls, galleries, libraries, museums, performance spaces and theatres located in 81 countries. On 28 November, shortlisted architectural teams presented their designs to a jury of more than 100 international judges who determined the finest projects. Previously awarded Completed Buildings – Culture winners include The Palestinian Museum in Palestine (2017), National Museum in Szczecin in Poland (2016) and Soma City Home for All in Japan (2015).

The Piano Mill is a unique architectural structure, a large musical instrument, an art installation and a performance machine. The building is a tall copper clad tower – musical instrument nestled in a natural forest of tall eucalypt trees on the Granite Belt west of Brisbane, Australia. It pays respect to the plethora of pianos that helped European settlers feel culturally at home and pays tribute to music of the “prepared piano”. It is home to sixteen pianos, tuned grader blades and sonic periscopes. Jostled together on elevated balconies set around a three-storey void designed for hoisting the instruments into place, they resonate in the rich timbered interior. The Piano Mill represents an emotive collaboration between composer and architect.

Prepared piano composer Erik Griswold created concert-length compositions which have been performed at The Piano Mill. Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University Director, Professor Scott Harrison, with pleasure stated, “We are delighted that The Piano Mill has won the prestigious World Architecture Festival 2018 – Culture award. Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University has enjoyed a close association with this structure since its inauguration in 2016, and supported composer Erik’s attendance at this week’s award ceremony in the Netherlands.”

Wolfe stated, “This project would not have happened but for meeting with outstanding composer and pianist Erik Griswold, together with the dynamic percussionist Vanessa Tomlinson, and the belief in the concept from the many colleagues and music family including Jocelyn Wolfe who gathered around the idea.”

In 2017 The Piano Mill was awarded an Australian Institute of Architects – National Commendation accolade, as well as a National APRA Award (Award for Excellence in Experimental Music).

Conrad Gargett combines creative design, vision and expertise in delivering award-winning architecture and is one of the most experienced community and civic architectural practices in Australia since 1890. Presently the firm is working on enhancing the home of Queensland Ballet, and delivered Queensland Theatre’s new Bille Brown Theatre in October 2018.

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