These are the most read stories over November.

1. Bundeena Beach House

Bundeena Beach House

Bundeena Beach House is a sustainable coastal home that purposely rejects its built context, instead choosing to forge a connection between the street and the natural environment beyond.

Situated on a rocky headland at the end of a beach, adjoining the public access-way, this project required a unique, sustainable response with a high level of sensitivity to the site.


2. Home construction hits a snag

Home construction hits a snag

According to RiskWise Property Research’s latest analysis of the construction industry which has been hit hard over recent months following the high-profile cases of the Mascot and Opal towers in NSW, lenders are reluctant to lend and buyers don’t want to buy when it comes to high-rise developments.

RiskWise CEO Doron Peleg says with cracks in both the Sydney towers, fears more will become apparent in other buildings and the need to replace combustible cladding in thousands of buildings throughout Australia, demand for units had dropped dramatically.


3. Benchtops that kill

Benchtops that kill

The National Dust Disease Taskforce is preparing to read submissions next week on how best to handle the resurgence of the fatal lung disease silicosis. This can develop after breathing in silica dust when cutting artificial stone — also known as engineered, composite or manufactured stone — the type used for kitchen benchtops.

But this is not the first time we’ve been alerted to the long-term effects of exposure to hazardous dust. Think asbestos.


4. From pole to pole

Recycling power poles

Powercor, one of Australia's largest electricity distribution networks has partnered with Australian Architectural Hardwoods on a unique recycling initiative that prevents redundant timber power poles from being sent to landfill.

There are more than five million timber power poles across Australia with thousands replaced each year following routine inspections or upgrades. Powercor distributes electricity to more than 1.75 million Victorians through a network comprising of over 88,300 kilometres of wires supported by more than 570,000 poles including over 360,000 made from natural Australian hardwood timbers such as Spotted Gum, Ironbark, Blackbutt and Tallow Wood.


5. Trackless trams

Trackless trams

A Greenpeace video of me plugging a trackless tram that went viral with 4 million hits has caused a few eyebrows to be raised over whether I think light rail is dead. So let me be clear: light rail remains the gold-standard technology for providing high-quality, rapid, zero-emissions public transport along a street corridor.

There is a strong case for using light rail in many cities with sustained all-day ridership. This includes Sydney, where trials of a newly built light rail system have begun.


6. Forest City

Forest City

The plan is for Smart Forest City Cancun to save a 557-hectare site that is currently serving as a sand quarry for hotels and is earmarked for the development of a large shopping mall.

The project will see the site reforested with 7.5 million plants, including various species of trees, shrubs and bushes, chosen by botanist and landscape architect Laura Gatti.


7. The best woman in sustainability for 2019

Natasha Mulcahy

Natasha Mulcahy has won a Women in Sustainability Award at the 2019 Sustainability Awards.

The award honours women who have made a significant contribution to the built environment industry in Australia over the past five years.


8. Cutting those nasty emissions

climate change

The Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC) has celebrated the release of Every Building Counts: A practical plan for emissions reduction. Authored by the Green Building Council of Australia and the Property Council of Australia, Every Building Counts sets out a clear pathway to achieve net zero carbon buildings by 2030. 

Buildings contribute to almost a quarter of Australia’s emissions, along with more than half of our electricity consumption, through their operation alone. Buildings could also meet over half of the national energy productivity target, and more than one quarter of the national emissions target.


9. City of Hope

City of Home

As winner of the Best of the Best category at the 2019 Sustainability Awards, House 4 is one of the four houses comprising the ‘City of Hope’ development in Coffs Harbour, NSW that aims to explore and demonstrate the viability of some of the most advanced measures of sustainability possible in the built environment today and to do this in the small-scale context of a regional Australian town.

According to Schimminger Architects, the project enthusiastically embraces the complexity of the Living Building Challenge, addressing all of the seven ‘Petals’ and most of the twenty ‘Imperatives’.


10. The affordable housing dilemma

Housing affordability

This year the Sydney Architecture Festival is focusing on affordability. Architects and affordability. My first reaction was to laugh out loud. You’re kidding right? Exquisite oxymoron. Talking to the taxman about poetry. Thank you, Billy Bragg.

Can you think of any group less qualified to discuss affordability? A profession obsessed with designer bling and an institute dedicated to giving awards to ever more expensive houses with ever more elaborate spaces, materials and ideas. Beautiful yes, but affordable? Nah.