Construction will begin this year on what Frasers Property Australia is referring to as “the most sustainable shopping centre in the world”.

The developer is taking part in the Living Building Challenge (LBC), described by the Living Future Institute of Australia (LFIA) as “the world’s most rigorous proven performance standard for buildings”. 

In 2016, LFIA and Frasers held a global competition to find a design for Burwood Brickworks in Melbourne that would meet the challenge’s strict sustainability requirements. The winner of this challenge was DWP|Suters, which proposed the use of modular prefabricated construction techniques to significantly reduce construction waste compared to a standard retail centre.

 Living-Building-Challenge-winner-announced.jpgDWP_Suters' winning design for Burwood Brickworks. Image: DWP|Suters

Frasers has also hired sustainable designer Joost Bakker to help turn the building’s 2000sqm rooftop into an urban farm and restaurant space. The developer is currently welcoming expressions of interest for a company to design, construct and operate a rooftop garden/urban farm, and/or fit out and operate a marquee food and beverage tenancy.

According to Frasers, the aim is to create an internationally recognised agricultural project on an urban scale that is unprecedented in Australia, promoting sustainability through fresh produce, education and events. This will help strengthen links with nature and reconnect people with the food they eat.

“This is an Australian first that will completely reconsider how food is sourced and provided by retailers. Two thousand square metres of productive agricultural space has been evenly split between greenhouses, external planter boxes and landscaped growing areas,” says Frasers executive GM of retail, Peri Macdonald.

 Joost Bakker says he “could not resist” the opportunity to consult on the design for the rooftop.

“The vision driving the design comes from such a positive place,” says Bakker.

“Frasers is seeking to re-invent the way we think about sustainable, mixed-use developments and food sourcing. Mulching excess organic material for compost, implementing ‘closed loop’ water reduction management and limiting food and waste transportation are just some of the measures that will be employed on the rooftop to lessen the ecological footprint.

“I’ve really enjoyed helping Frasers to envision how such a bold concept can transform the way we think about food production and consumption. There is such a hunger for this kind of development throughout the world. It really fills a gap in the market to feed and nurture conscious consumers. New consumers want to shop, eat and relax in environments that truly support a sustainable world.”

According to Frasers, the sustainability concept for the rooftop is key to accrediting the building as Australia’s first 6-Star Green Star Design and As-Built retail building, and the world’s first Living Building Challenge certified retail development.

 A Living Building is a building that has a net zero carbon footprint, produces more electricity than it consumes, grows agriculture on 20 per cent of the site and is net water and waste positive. Other features include social and health benefits including access to natural daylight, indoor air quality and construction from non-toxic and recycled materials.