“Testosterone-charged” and “determinedly avant-garde” are just some of the sound bites used to describe the major winners at this year’s top architecture awards.

The prestigious Australian Institute of Architects’ National Architecture Awards were announced in Adelaide last night with projects in Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania, ACT, NSW, Western Australia, South Australia, China and Singapore recognised.

Topping the list, is the 2008 Sir Zelman Cowen Award for Public Architecture, awarded this year to the “robust” Cherrell Hirst Creative Learning Centre at Brisbane Girls Grammar School by dynamic young Brisbane-based architects m3architecture.

While, for the third year running, Australia’s most prestigious residential award — the Robin Boyd Award for Residential Architecture — goes to a house on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsular. The Klein Bottle House, by Melbourne couple Rob McBride and Debbie Lynn Ryan of adventurous practice McBride Charles Ryan, is a “determinedly avant-garde house uses a complex mathematical model as a metaphorical generator for a new spatial experience” the jury said. They added: “The overall perception of the house is one of a distinctive new language for domestic architecture, a language that draws from mathematics to develop an architecture of excitement, intrigue and new possibilities.”

Widely acclaimed architect and jury chair Alec Tzannes said: “2008 represented an exceptionally strong year for architecture, with new benchmarks set in a number of key categories — such as public architecture, single housing and multi-residential architecture, along with heritage. In particular, public architecture was very well represented, with many outstanding submissions from urban, suburban and regional locations. The most remarkable were projects involving private secondary school buildings.”