The inaugural winner of the University of Wollongong’s Sustainable Homes Challenge has been announced, with iDesign’s Lego House project taking out the competition.

A nationwide competition, the Sustainable Homes Challenge asks multidisciplinary teams to design a sustainable, affordable and liveable home from waste-derived building products.

25 students currently studying undergraduate and master’s degrees from six universities completed the challenge. Participants were placed into teams and challenged, over five months, to create a design proposal for the construction of a home that included innovative components made from available waste-derived materials.

The iDesign team, comprising Georgia O-Neill, Nicole Ellingburg, Evie Parrish-Gibbons and Parimal Salunkhe, were victorious with their Lego House submission. 

Deriving its name from the lego-like bricks that click together similarly to the interlocking plastic bricks. It features maximised access to natural light and ventilation, outdoor living spaces in the front and rear of the property, interactive frontage to help build connections with the community and large living spaces on both floors. It comprises three water closets, with two being separate to general bathrooms, as well as an inline kitchen.

The teams were brought together virtually for the final week of the challenge.

Project manager, Leela Kempton, says humans are expected to generate an estimated 2.2 billion tonnes of waste annually by 2025. This year’s challenge was focused on the world’s waste problem, in particular, using waste to build sustainable and liveable homes.

“One of the biggest things has been seeing students come from so many academic backgrounds. Many have never thought about constructing houses,” she says.

“They have learned about the circular economy but also the need for sustainable housing. Solving problems such as waste, affordable housing and climate change are complex problems. We need to approach them from many different angles.

“This is the first year we have run the challenge – after it was postponed from last year – and the students have overcome a challenging year to deliver entries of high quality.” 

Michele Adair, from challenge sponsors Housing Trust, says she hopes students will continue to challenge and ultimately shape the industry.

“They’ve already done that in many and varied ways,” she says.

“We hope to share some of these innovations with our industry partners in planning, design and construction to inform future projects. A forum early in the new year would be an excellent start".

The Sustainable Homes Challenge is powered by UOW’s Sustainable Buildings Research Centre and funded by McKinnon Walker Trust.

For more information regarding the challenge, click here.