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    DWP|Suters take out Living Building Challenge with billabong-inspired retail centre

    Nathan Johnson

    A pre-fabricated shopping centre designed for disassembly and reuse at any point in its lifecycle has been crowned the winner of the 2016 Brickworks Living Building Challenge design competition.

    The Difference is Living shook off competition from a strong field of leading sustainable building experts to receive the program’s top honour from its organiser, the Living Future Institute of Australia (LFIA).

    The winning submission was a collaborative effort from a consortium brimming with sustainability expertise. DWP|Suters lead the design of the project, but was aided by a team consisting of Aurecon and CJ Arms engineers, as well as Reedbed Technology, Eco Harvest, Biomimicry Australia, Future Food and Watpac.

    DWP|Suters Research + Sustainability Leader, Rory Martin says he is “delighted with the win” and believes that it was his team’s diversity that was the key its success.

    “We are deeply indebted to the 30 passionate people from eight organisations who joined our team and generously contributed their incredible knowledge”, he explains.

    CHALLENGE AND RESPONSE

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    Challenged to create the world’s most sustainable retail centre at a former brickworks site in Burwood East, Australia, The Difference is Living team proposed a retail facility that uses modular prefabricated construction techniques to significantly reduce construction waste compared to a standard retail centre.

    Designed to be “screwed together instead of glued together”, the structure can also be repurposed at the end of its life, something that impressed LFIA Vice-Chair, Stephen Choi.

    “The way the modular design came together in a functional, well-conceived way, to potentially be re-purposed elsewhere at the end of the centre’s life cycle, significantly reduces construction waste compared to a standard retail centre, and is not an approach normally considered to this extent,” he explains.  

    “Additionally, the winning design recognises and celebrates the innate connection between human beings and the natural elements that surround us, through its “Bush Tucker” interpretive green walls and approximately 3900sqm of billabong plantings, including over 2000sqm of vine growing structures along site boundaries.”

    The competition brief also called for the incorporation of LFIA’s Living Building Challenge performance criteria which comprises seven performance categories called ‘petals’: place, water, energy, health & happiness, materials, equity and beauty. 

    With a 34 per cent weighting in the judging criteria, addressing these imperatives was an important part of The Difference is Living project and Choi says the design’s strong alignment with Living Building Challenge principals made them a worthy winner.


    Read more about the Living Building Challenge
    See the People’s Choice finalists for Living Building Challenge


    THE BILLABONG

    Dubbed by the team at DWP|Suters as ‘the billabong’, The Difference is Living entry is inspired by the genius loci (spirit of place) of the site.  From this, says Martin, the concept of the billabong emerges, which reflects the dynamic ebb and flow of life during seasonal changes.

    “Watering holes have long been a gathering place for communities and it’s this idea of social gatherings in the environment that underpins this retail concept, with the billabong providing a bridging link between the retail centre and the adjacent residential area; it’s a conceptual link between the built and natural environment,” Martin explains.  

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    The billabong, says DWP|Suters, is experienced through a sensory walk; a circuit that leads people through a multisensory educational experience featuring seasonal flora, wildlife, food, community garden beds, water management, bird calls, scents, tastes, cooking classes, bush tucker walks and a cycle path.


    Also celebrated on the night was the winner of the Primary School Challenge, where local student Olivia Murley from Antonio Park Primary School won a new solar photovoltaic array to be installed at the school by market-leading Solgen Energy Group.

    FULL LIST OF WINNERS AND COMMENDATIONS

    PROFESSIONAL WINNER: THE CANDLEBARK AWARD

    The Difference is Living by DWP|Suters, Aurecon, CJ Arms, Reedbed Technology, Eco Harvest, Biomimicry Australia, Future Food, Watpac

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    From the LFIA: The winning design comprehensively and creatively addresses the principles of the Living Building Challenge, with its modular construction a great initiative in a well thought out and functional design. The design’s market roof concept was interesting, with links to heritage, a striking roof structure and beautiful finishes.

    PROFESSIONAL RUNNER-UP: THE POWER FOR LIFE AWARD

    For the Common Good - A Restart to Retailing by Buchan Group, Grün Consulting, Inhabit, Rushwright Associates

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    From the LFIAA beautiful design and functional retail space, with an interesting digital communication and education concept, where the centre becomes a community gathering space instead of just a shopping centre. This design challenges traditional thinking and approaches by starting with sustainability and working backwards to make retail fit.


    PROFESSIONAL COMMENDATION: THE MANNA GUM AWARD

    The Gathering by KPA Architects, Link Engineering Consultants, Ionic Design Australia, Realmstudios, Sustainability House

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    From the LFIA:The visually striking design comprises an interesting basement garden and grand entrance, with good construction methodology detail. A central garden connects two levels of a building that behaves like a flower, with inwardly embracing elements that stretch outwards.


    PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD

    For the Common Good - A Restart to Retailing by Buchan Group, Grün Consulting, Inhabit, Rushwright Associates

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    SPECIAL COMMENDATION

    Living Retail by NH Architecture, Ark Resources, Aspect Studios, E2designlab, CERES, Mott MacDonald

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    From the LFIAA visually impressive 'long life loose fit' design which utilises natural ventilation and the venturi effect, and includes high density residential. Interesting features include a mobile batching plant on site for construction waste, and a user (tenant) pays for power system to incentivise battery storage.


    VOLUNTEERING CHAMPION: THE SHINY WALLABY AWARD FOR VOLUNTEERING

    The BioVale by Designinc Melbourne, WSP|Parsons Brinckerhoff, Outlines Landscape Architecture, Mend

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    From the LFIA:The team behind this design has contributed in a volunteer and pro bono capacity to a number of not-for-profit community and environmental groups over the duration of thedesign competition.


    THE PRIMARY SCHOOL CHALLENGE AWARD

    Sustainability for the Future! by Olivia Murley, Antonio Park Primary School

    From the LFIAOlivia’s drawing clearly represents some key ideas of what is relevant for sustainability in shopping centres. The design has a human scale, with a focus on pedestrians and cyclists. It’s a community space with lots of plants, public seating and a community garden. Practical ways to reduce energy include solar panels, natural light and external shading devices for the windows. Water is captured with cleverly placed funnels to filter down through the vertical gardens.


    STUDENT WINNER: THE RED WILLIAMS AWARD

    Burwood Life Centre by Team 42: Bhargav Sridhar, Monica Sutisna

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    From the LFIAA plan with clever aspects like power generation and the inclusion of bees for pollination and regeneration. The incorporation of the Brickworks history and heritage connection is powerful, and a point of difference is the commercial catchment. An amazing rammed earth visual feature uses excavated materials on site. The design also included a research lab and library.


    Student commendations: The Red Box Award

    • Brickworks Greenby CE Arch (Elise Fancourt, Claire Murray)
    • Farmulous: Urban Agriculture Education Centre by Dan Parker and Hui Li Yeoh
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