Developing a living future for brutalism

A brutalist office building from the 1970s will get a new lease on life as Australia’s most sustainable heritage-listed building in a competition all designers, architects and students will be interested in.

The Living Future Institute of Australia (LFIA), in partnership with Development Victoria, have launched the Illumanate Living Building Challenge Design Competition to source design ideas to reuse the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works building in Sunshine North.

Designs for the repurposed building will need to meet exacting environmental and sustainability standards for Living Building Challenge Certification. According to CEO Laura Hamilton-O’Hara, these include generating its own energy using renewables, acting as part of the hydrological cycle of the site, and taking into account embodied energy in materials and tools.

Reinventing the brutalist building is part of a bigger plan by Development Victoria to establish a sustainable precinct with retail, community and residential uses.

LFIA Board Chair believes the most sustainable building is one that already exists. “We need to embrace the idea of retrofitting and reimagining an existing building to create regenerative spaces. We can’t always start from scratch.”

This is the second time the competition has been held. The first, in 2016, led to the creation of the Burwood Brickworks Shopping Centre. For more information and to register visit LIFA.

Image: John Jovic via LFIA.

About the author

Desi Corbett

Desi is our weekly news journalist and the editor of Concrete in Australia magazine for 10 years. She has been heavily involved in all forms of engineering since 2013; part of a 30-year writing career across a range of subjects and media.