Four Melbourne architects leading the sustainable charge

We place a spotlight on four Melbourne architects who are leading innovations in sustainable design.

Community Progress
7 min read
Melbourne is regarded as Australia’s cultural capital, thanks in part to the variety of architectural styles across the city.

Consumer trends are shifting, and a move to sustainable initiatives in designing structures is heavily influencing modern architectural styles. We take a look at four Melburnian architects leading innovations in sustainability.

1. Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, BatesSmart

How it’s sustainable

The building is split into smaller building blocks that create thinner structures to bring natural light to the floorspace, reducing the need to have electric lights on.

Oriented toward the sun, the east blocks of the hospital get morning light, north blocks get afternoon light and the western blocks get western light. This means all parts of the building receive direct sunlight.

Rainwater is captured through a riverbed circling the building and used to water the gardens, while solar panels are used to generate power. In conjunction with a gas-fired generator, the building is able to work off the grid if needed.

Why sustainable architecture is important

Kristen Whittle wants to see how the Green Star ratings can continue to grow and be broadly understood. He says the Royal Children’s Hospital embodies “creating environments within an architectural expression, in the way buildings are planned that generates buildings for the long term”.

The Royal Children’s Hospital is designed to allow buildings to be added without disrupting the existing structures – reducing the amount of rebuilding required when expansions are needed.

2. Chadstone Shopping Centre, The Buchan Group Melbourne

How it’s sustainable

Shopping centres aren’t usually sustainable. But recent developments at Chadstone Shopping Centre have meant the iconic fashion capital is the first retail development to be awarded a five-star Green Star Rating.

The extension of the shopping centre featured extensive daylight, which not only increases lighting quality, but reduces energy consumed by lighting.

Central heating and cooling, LED lighting and intelligent control systems reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 71%, while potable water use is reduced by 65% through a combination of rainwater collection, low-use water fittings and monitoring systems.

Reliance on motor vehicle usage is reduced by including cyclist features for both staff and visitors, and integrating public transport within the centre.

Why sustainable architecture is important

“Rather than [just a] grand vision that relates back to architecture or buildings, it’s … the right thing for everybody to try and live minimally impacting the environment, the world and the resources that it has,” says The Buchan Group Melbourne Principal, Harvey Male.

“I certainly think it’s reached a tipping point in our industry.

“[But] if it becomes too much of a trend or fashion, then it’s missing the point. It shouldn’t be seen as that, it should just be the correct thing to do.”

3. Potter Street Redevelopment, Allen Kong Architect

How it’s sustainable

This Dandenong co-development between disability support organisation, Wallara Australia, aged care specialist, Wintringham, and housing provider, Housing Choices, features a variety of sustainable initiatives.

The building has no internal corridors, reducing air-conditioned space by approximately 30%. This also reduces the materials needed during construction.

Solar panels are used for hot water preheating, with the ability to retrofit further panels.

The buildings are heavily insulated and double glazed, which reduce the need for artificial heating.

Why sustainable architecture is important

Allen Kong believes that there’s more to sustainable design than just the environmental aspects.

“Environmental sustainability must go hand in hand with social and economic sustainability.  This project … makes the most of the materials – used in a way that supports the resident and staff.”

4. The High Street development, Ewert Leaf Architects

How it’s sustainable

This apartment complex in Malvern features a variety of sustainable initiatives, both in the way it was constructed and how it uses resources after construction.

Locally sourced and recycled materials were used in construction, as well as non-volatile organic compounds in paints and finishes.

Energy-efficient heating and cooling and LED lighting are used to reduce power usage, which is boosted by positioning the building to maximise shade. Solar panels also allow the building to generate its own energy.

“The inspiration was to create an environmentally friendly building for the users of today and tomorrow, that is a leading example of how to minimise our carbon footprint in a cost effective way” says Toby Ewert, Director of Ewert Leaf Architects.

Why sustainable architecture is important

On sustainable architecture, Tony says that “typically, buildings consume large amounts of materials, produce excessive waste and carbon emissions, which are detrimental to our environment.”

Sustainable architecture is vital in implementing strategies and initiatives to help lessen how buildings impact our environment.

“By rationalising our natural resources, we can provide a positive contribution and help improve our environmental quality for future generations.”

Sustainable architecture is the future for Australian homes. With more architects like these, the future is also bright for local businesses.