The Live+Smart Lab, part of the School of Architecture and Built Environment at Deakin University, has embarked on a unique study to look for ways to help one live better in a rapidly urbanised world.

The research study aims to tackle one of the 21st century’s biggest challenges: rapid urbanisation and the decline of rural areas.

The researchers will consider how building and design could address issues such as ecological and socio-cultural sustainability, along with the community’s health and wellbeing.

Lab Director Dr Phillip Roös said that the Live+Smart Lab gave the research team the opportunity to collaborate across Deakin’s schools, faculties and institutes, due to the multi-disciplinary nature of research in the sustainable and liveable cities agenda.

“Over half of the world’s population now lives in urban areas, with cities consuming 75 per cent of the world’s natural resources and 80 per cent of the global energy supply while producing around 75 per cent of global carbon emissions.

“But what is more concerning is that the wellbeing of residents and quality of our healthy environments in our cities is declining,” Roös observed.

Projects underway at the Live+Smart Lab:

Coastal Scenario Planning Model

Working in partnership with the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee, the researchers are investigating the impacts of coastal developments and sea level rises, with the effects visually represented in a dynamic 3D and virtual reality platform.  

Enhanced Learning Environments through Biophilic Design

Collaborating with Rendine Constructions, the researchers are using Biophilic Design Principles to create classrooms that enhance the learning, wellbeing and health of children. A key objective is to apply the principles of Biophilic Design to improve modular classrooms and provide stimulating and healthy environments for students.

City of Melton Liveable and Smart City Strategy

The Lab is working in partnership with the City of Melton to develop the strategy, using a dynamic scenario planning model to assist decision making in a rapid growth area, and support the creation of a liveable and loveable Melton.

Heal the Scar at Anglesea

The project’s objective is to develop a replicable approach to the regeneration of exhausted quarry and mine sites using the former Alcoa site at Anglesea as a case study. The Anglesea site lies within the environmentally sensitive Anglesea Heath and adjoins the Great Otways National Park.

Roös explained that it was important to first heal the land, acknowledge Aboriginal custodianship and reinstate the water catchment of the area before any further development. Working in collaboration with global architecture practice Grimshaw, the Lab applied their Regenerative-Adaptive methodology to propose alternative futures for this environmentally sensitive place.

Heal the Scar has developed three scenarios including restoration, which is the minimum work needed to return the site to its natural environment and restore current ecological systems including creek flows into the Anglesea River; regeneration, which includes the restoration plus further cultural heritage elements such as a Wadawurrung Indigenous cultural centre to share learnings about caring for country; and adaptation, which adds to restoration and regeneration by developing the land for sustainable community ventures such as food production in a high performance solar powered greenhouse system that effectively creates a closed loop system for energy and food production.

“The establishment of the Live+Smart Lab is one of our greatest opportunities in the School. It offers a major venue across Deakin to maximise our research expertise in a multidisciplinary and holistic way. It is not just about smart technology but fundamentally about the need for liveability and wellbeing,” Roös concluded.