Curtin University’s new Legacy Living Lab (L3) is a modular building designed using principles of the circular economy – an environmentally-friendly concept that aims to ‘design out’ waste by including as much recycling and re-use of materials as possible.
Constructed as part of their thesis, Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute PhD candidates Timothy O’Grady and Roberto Minunno, together with Curtin Professor Greg Morrison, worked alongside many industry partners to create L3 as a resource to support and inform the building industry on different construction methodologies, test new products and review the performance of materials, including their energy consumption, automation, and effects on building wellness.
The L3, located at Development WA’s East Village development in Knutsford, Fremantle, was designed to be flexible, sustainable, and can be fully disassembled, and that many of the building’s materials were recycled, including the original 100 year-old Jarrah staircase from the Dingo Flour Mill and carpet tiles reclaimed from a Perth CBD office space.
“In Australia, the construction industry is responsible for about 30 percent or 20.4 million tonnes of annual waste. Although it’s a significant and largely ignored issue, this is also an opportunity,” says O’Grady.
“The circular economy concept sits at the heart of the L3’s design and construction and reduces waste by incorporating many fortuitous finds and generous donations, giving real meaning to the phrase ‘one person’s trash is another’s treasure’.”
“The 17 tonne steel frames we used to construct L3 actually came from a project that went bankrupt and were originally destined to be recycled. We were able to redesign L3 to incorporate these frames, putting them to good use.”
Other environmentally-friendly features of L3 include the outdoor balcony, made from recycled tyre rubber and plastics; the acoustic ceiling panels, which are 68 percent recycled PET bottles and other plastic materials; and the kitchen benchtop, made from pressed recycled timber.
L3 also features solar panels, an on-site electric vehicle charger, and incorporates water balancing features.
Professor Greg Morrison, also from the Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute, says that because L3 is modular, it can be relocated – potentially multiple times – which helps it last even longer.
“Once it finally reaches its end of life, around 57 percent of L3 can be deconstructed and reused in other buildings, 25 percent of it can be recycled, and 18 percent disposed of.
“L3 is currently a Curtin University building, used primarily as a space for industry demonstration and a place to carry out important research on new building and material concepts.”