DesignBUILD bigger and more collaborative than ever

DesignBUILD Speaker Series 2016 panel discussion
DesignBUILD Speaker Series 2016 panel discussion

This years DesignBUILD in Sydney has to be one of the most impressive ever, with collaboration and audience sharing with two other conference heavyweights – the Australian Institute of Architects National Conference and the Planning Institute of Australia’s Planning Congress. It goes without saying the focus is strongly on collaboration and sustainability.


The overarching theme of DesignBUILD 2017 in Sydney 3-5 May is design, construction and planning, as seen through the lens of the changing face of Sydney.

According to DesignBUILD Marketing Manager Stephanie Bleakley, the aim is to showcase the innovations, techniques and materials that will create a liveable future.

Content will range from engineered timber, multi-disciplinary teamwork, green procurement and prefabrication through to groundbreaking new products and architectural ideas.

The theme of Sydney’s changing urban face will also be reinforced by the venue, the newly opened International Convention Centre Sydney at Darling Harbour. This also puts sustainability in focus, as the venue has registered to achieve a LEED Gold rating and is also the site for a new community-funded solar PV system.

Awesome threesome

For the first time DesignBUILD will be co-located with the annual conferences of the Australian Institute of Architects and the Planning Institute of Australia to enhance opportunities for greater engagement between the three elements of the design and delivery of the built environment.

Audiences will be able to move around the three conferences for selected side events and other program elements.

Cross-collaboration is crucial for the built environment, Bleakley says.

“Because of how the Sydney skyline is changing, planners, designers and architects need to talk to each other.”

Lunch and learn

One of the features of DesignBUILD 2017 is a series of “lunch and learn” events. These will involve a cross-disciplinary discussion that is a “microcosm for the collaboration of the industry”.

One will showcase the Sydney Park Water Re-Use scheme, which brought together landscaping, ecological expertise, engineering, architecture and the City of Sydney to create an award-winning public space that also acts as a living machine to treat stormwater.

It’s important that the program brings together so many experts from sectors including fitout, interior design, planning and landscape, as well as architecture, engineering, construction and product manufacturing, Bleakley says.

“Collaboration is integral to innovation and to driving the industry forward.”

The same will happen in the exhibition space.

“We have been seeing exhibitors looking to find other manufacturers and suppliers to create new products and opportunities.”

ICC Sydney Exhibition Centre

This year’s program has two new content partners – HASSELL + Populous, the joint venture architects behind the project

Together they will present two sessions on trends in conference centre design and making conference centres perform for people.

Sustainability trends

There are also a number of sessions that are focused on sustainability trends. They include Madonna Locke from Urbis Design speaking on Brisbane City Council’s Buildings that Breathe Design Guide.

This guide addresses the performance of high-density buildings in the city, promoting design benchmarks and best-practice examples of how to open buildings to breezes and integrate landscaping for shade and thermal comfort.

Georgia Sedgmen from Tract will present on Liveable Sydney 2021, and what the key fundamentals are for creating a vibrant, liveable city including strategic environmental measures.

WoodSolutions Mid-Rise Advisory team expert Dr Paulo Lavisci will give a talk on the opportunities for using timber in mid-rise construction, and Andreas Luzzi from Laros Technologies will present on CLT construction as an alternative method for delivering sustainable buildings, with a focus on compliance, building physics and both on and offsite skills requirements.

Other topics on the program include European trends in prefabricated construction, the prevention of defects in multi-residential buildings and how interiors can contribute to the liveability of future cities.

Another Lunch and Learn session will focus on “What will ‘Climate Change’ change about the way we build and design for the future”.

The session’s panel will include representatives from the Australian Institute of Building, Tract Consultants, David Solomon from the Master Builders Association, Adam Hunter from Environmental Partnerships, and Ross Taylor from Ross Taylor and Associates.

Together with participants, the panel will explore the effects climate change will have on sustainability in the built environment and outdoor design.

Kate Harris, chief executive of Good Environmental Choice Australia will present a talk on emerging global trends in sustainable development and what this means to the built environment, and David Baggs, chief executive of Global Green Tag, will speak on the possibilities for a product-led climate recovery and how purchasing decisions can redress climate change impacts.

ENESS Lumes Incubator Winner

Another feature of the event is the Incubator Program, which showcases five new-to-market innovations for the built environment.

“We are finding increasingly people wanted to be presented with genuinely new and innovative ideas,” Bleakley says.

The program came out of the collaboration with the Australian Institute of Architects.

Companies, many of them start-ups, compete for five spaces in a stand-alone pavilion.

The products that won a space at this year’s conference include Lumes by ENESS, an interactive, artistic LED lighting system that can be embedded in walls, facades or other places; HOME^3, a simple to construct, deconstruct and move solution for housing the homeless that is to cost under $2000; Intelli Particle’s carbon and graphite technology, which creates heat-generating coatings that can provide energy-efficient radiant heat on just about any surface; AuroLED Australia’s transparent LED screens for building facades; and a new pipe joint, Flexitec by Plastec.

The pavilion has been designed as part of another initiative around the conference – RAW. Bleakely says this involves architecture students from partner universities – UTS, UNSW and University of Sydney – competing to design and build a number of the conference venues.

Both theatres, the Incubator and bar areas have all been designed by RAW entrants.

The process simulates a real-life tender, she says. They have to work to a brief that includes sustainability requirements, and within a budget. The winners then work with an actual builder to bring the idea to the conference floor.

  • DesignBUILD is on 3-5 May 2017. Read further details about the conference and register to attend here.

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