Cameron Anderson said that some visitors to town can't believe there's enough for an architect to do in Mudgee, but his recent gong at the NSW Architecture Awards is a nod to the work going on in the industry in regional areas.
He was awarded the 2019 NSW Emerging Architect Prize. The criteria of which includes; being within 10 years of registering as an architect and within 15 years of graduating from university; community involvement; design excellence; practice; education; and engagement with the profession.
His pro bono work and what he'd done in other practices - setting up graduate programs - was recognised, along with his leadership within the profession including as the current chair of the NSW Country Division Committee of the Australian Institute of Architects.
Cameron, who established Cameron Anderson Architects in Mudgee in 2011, said the honour came as a surprise.
"I was blown away, because it's normally an award that's really focused on the cities. There's a lot of really strong, young architectural practices that work in cities and it's usually awarded to someone based in Sydney," he said.
"So it's exciting to see that the profession is looking outside the metro area and think that what we're doing out here in the regions is important. And it's shining a light on design in a regional context."
He added that what regional NSW - especially the local area - has is heritage. And balancing that with giving the buildings a new lease on life, is a challenge he enjoys.
"Mudgee is a historic town, a lot of people see heritage as being a restraint but it's actually a really good design opportunity. In terms of the preservation of heritage - which is really important - but there's also the ability to renovate and rework it in a relevant way," he said. "And I think that's regional NSW generally, there's a lot of beautiful historic towns that are in need of sensitive design outcomes, as well as innovation in terms of how you look at them.
"It's an area of interest to me, we had a project a few years ago which was an extension to a heritage-listed house in Gulgong and it was quite a contemporary design response. We received an award for it and it was used as case study in the heritage design guide in NSW of how to sensitively extend a heritage-listed building - which is different to the idea of designing something that looks old.
"Practising regionally is very different to practising in the city - there are different budget constraints and context - but I think it's an exciting time, there's a lot of opportunity."
All states have an Emerging Architect Prize, with each award winner up for a national gong at a ceremony in November in Brisbane.
"I didn't think I'd be a chance of getting the NSW one and you're up against some of the great, young architects in Australia," Cameron said. "But who knows, it's just amazing to be considered."