Design competition asks architects, environmentalists and school kids to imagine a sustainable retail center

The Living Future Institute Australia has launched the Brickworks Living Building Challenge Design Competition, a new global design competition that aims to re-imagine retail centers.

The effort calls on designers, environmental experts, architects, students and even schoolchildren to submit ideas to Frasers Property on how it can make its new center in Melbourne’s Burwood East a flagship of sustainability, according to a report by The Guardian.

Besides stores, the 12,000-square-meter development will incorporate a 4,800-square-meter supermarket, a childcare center, a gym, a pharmacy and a medical center.

“We’re asking designers to come up with ideas on how to create the most sustainable retail centre in the world on a particular site,” Stephen Choi, vice-chair of the Living Future Institute of Australia, told The Guardian. “We’re asking if it can be done. The answer is we don’t really know, and we don’t know how it will be done – which is exactly why we’re doing a design competition.”

Exact data on how retail buildings in Australia impact the environment is not collected, and large retail developments like shopping centers are not bound by the same energy efficiency reporting requirements as large commercial buildings. Yet not-for-profit group Catalyst estimates the sector accounts for about 5 percent of Australia’s total national carbon emissions, largely through the use of energy for heating, cooling and lighting. That figure is “projected to grow,” according to Catalyst.

Performance is key to the $15,000 cash prize competition, with entrants asked to design a building that can produce more energy than it consumes. So it needs to be net zero water, treating as much water as is used onsite, or exporting cleaner water to surrounding sites, have zero construction waste and offset all building emissions, among other requirements.

A separate competition is also running for primary school children in the Whitehorse area, asking them what they think the most sustainable shopping centre in the world would look like. The winning school will have a solar installation built on site.

Topics: Architectural Firms, Building Owners and Managers, Civic and Cultural Centers, Construction Firms, Consulting - Green & Sustainable Strategies and Solutions, Engineering Firms, Great Commercial Buildings, Healthcare - Hospitals & Medical Facilities, Mixed Use Communities/Developments & Buildings, Retail, Sustainable Communities, Urban Planning and Design

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