2020 Architecture Awards Series

Australian Institute of Architects

When COVID-19 restrictions meant that the nine State, Territory and International Chapter Awards events couldn’t take place, we worked with the Institute’s teams across Australia to present them as a series of live streams.

This presented a few key challenges. How to generate a sense of engagement and anticipation when people were unable to gather in groups, if at all. How to make each one resonate with local members and to feel different, when they shared common elements. How to reinterpret benefits for sponsors, whose primary value had been in face-to-face networking. How to engage people to watch in the first place, when ‘Zoom fatigue’ had already set in.
And importantly, how to produce the streams in a COVID-safe way.

While we could write an essay on the complexity – and fun – of this project, here are some of the ways we addressed these issues, to produce weekly (and some times two-a-week) live streams over six weeks, totalling 15 hours of content.

Social distancing and the possibility of tighter restrictions being introduced at any time meant that we ran the entire production from our Canberra studio, with a small tech team and in-house MC.

We considered live crosses as being essential to the success of the streams. These interviews with the MC proved to be enormously popular: over the course of 9 streams, we conducted 110 live interviews with jurors and Chapter Presidents and the winners of the major awards – all of whom only discovered they had won as we called them during the event.

We also believed that including the voices of the members wherever possible was critical to making the streams a success. So, working with each of the 9 Chapters, we introduced the idea of member ‘shout-outs’ to be played as interstitials between categories. 89 practices large and small sent through these videos messages – a mash up of some of these, played at the close of the final stream, is below.

And importantly, we wanted to place architecture and the work of the members at the centre of the streams. So, we invited sponsors to send through video messages introducing the nominee packages for each category. This approach meant that every sponsor had a personalised presence that became an essential part of the show content.