The University of Wollongong’s (UOW) 2021 Sustainable Homes Challenge has received the backing of a number of significant sponsors, with Housing Trust announced as the challenge’s lead sponsor, and BlueScope and Engineers Australia as supporting sponsors.

Organised by UOW’s Sustainable Buildings Research Centre (SBRC) and funded by McKinnon Walker Trust, the Sustainable Homes Challenge invites university students from across Australia to create sustainable, healthy and affordable homes. This year’s Challenge centres around the world’s waste issues, and how we must use waste to create sustainable and liveable homes. 

The students, coming from all corners of the country, form teams and create a design proposal for the construction of a home, which will include components made from waste-derived materials. The designs are to be based on the Housing Trust’s latest social and affordable housing development, located in Corrimal on the south coast of New South Wales.

UOW Vice-Chancellor, Professor Patricia M. Davidson, says she is delighted to welcome the sponsors and their perspectives and expertise to the Challenge.

“I am delighted that Housing Trust has chosen to become involved in this year’s Sustainable Homes Challenge,” she says.

“As a community-based, not-for-profit organisation dedicated to building communities and providing high-quality, low-cost housing to those who need it most, Housing Trust is a very good fit with the values and aims of the Challenge.

“BlueScope and Engineers Australia also bring enormous industry experience, which will be of
immense value to the students.”

Housing Trust Chief Executive Officer, Michele Adair, says good design requires an empathetic response to the future residents.

“We have shared our design guidelines and briefed the participating students to emphasise that a home needs to be both a secure refuge from the world and connected to it,” she says.

“Getting the right balance between resources, quality and liveability is a huge challenge when building Affordable Housing. I can’t wait to see some of the innovations developed in the competition brought to life in our buildings in the near future.”

SBRC Director Professor Tim McCarthy says Housing Trust’s involvement will provide students with an opportunity to put their minds to work on finding solutions to real world problems.

“We really value the Housing Trust’s support both through sponsorship and by providing real designs for our students to work on. It is great to see Housing Trust’s openness to having the students pull apart designs they have been refining over many years.

“The students will be pushing the limits on how we can tweak or radically shake up the designs to include waste products, life-cycle analysis of the impact of their decisions and sustainable initiatives to ensure the homes are comfortable to live in for occupants, while strengthening the sense of community.

“All three sponsors bring serious expertise to the initiative, and will be acting as judges, offering site visits and case studies among other contributions.”

Successful designs must be sustainable and achieve a high level of building performance. They typically will include efficient building fabric and systems and utilise low impact materials. Buildings must also be healthy to support a happy lifestyle, and affordability is paramount in order for designs to be mass-produced in a cost effective manner.

The teams are currently undertaking the groundwork for the challenge, creating a design proposal for a home built from waste.

The final week of the Challenge, beginning on 29 November, will see the teams come together for a week of workshops, industry engagement and design challenges culminating in the final public virtual presentations of the design proposals.

To find out more about UOW’s Sustainable Homes Challenge, click here