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Rooftop urban farm revealed at Frasers’ Living Building Challenge retail site

The Burwood Brickworks retail centre
The Burwood Brickworks retail centre

The Burwood Brickworks retail centre, designed to be the world’s most sustainable shopping centre, has revealed it will house a 2000-square-metre urban farm and restaurant on its roof.

Teaming up with environmentalist Joost Bakker on the project, building developer Frasers Property Australia is now calling for expression of interest from tenants wanting to take over the rooftop space.

Last year, Frasers executive general manager, retail Peri Macdonald revealed to The Fifth Estate intentions to create an urban farm that would be a financial boon for the developer.

The farm is part of meeting the requirements of the stringent Living Building Challenge, the first retail development in the world to attempt such a feat.

Mr Macdonald on Wednesday said the company was now ready to talk to “unique food and beverage providers” interested in leasing the space.

“This is an Australian first that will completely reconsider how food is sourced and provided by retailers,” he said.

“Two thousand square metres of productive agricultural space has been evenly split between greenhouses, external planter boxes and landscaped growing areas.”

Expressions of interest are being taken for companies that can:

  • design, construct and operate the rooftop garden/urban farm; and/or
  • fitout and operate a marquee food and beverage tenancy

While design is still at concept level, it is expected to include a glasshouse of about 800 sq m, landscaped grounds of 1000 sq m and a co-located restaurant/cafe/event space of 350 sq m.

“The aim is to create an internationally recognised agricultural project on an urban scale unprecedented in Australia, promoting sustainability through fresh produce, education and events,” a Frasers statement said.

“It will strive to strengthen the link with nature and reconnect people with the food they eat.

“The vision is to deliver a first to market concept not just for Australia, but for the world. We are seeking a unique partner to create an active, thriving destination and a highly programmed precinct, with regular events that offer a diverse range of experience.”

Mr Bakker, who was appointed creative consultant for the rooftop design, praised the positive vision for the space.

“Frasers is seeking to reinvent the way we think about sustainable, mixed-used developments and food sourcing,” he said.

“Mulching excess organic material for compost, implementing ‘closed loop’ water reduction management and limiting food and waste transportation are just some of the measures that will be employed on the rooftop to lessen the ecological footprint.”

He said the farm would also employ technology to minimise energy use.

“I’ve really enjoyed helping Frasers to envision how such a bold concept can transform the way we think about food production and consumption,” Mr Bakker said.

“There is such a hunger for this kind of development throughout the world. It really fills a gap in the market to feed and nurture conscious consumers.”

Construction is set to begin in mid-2018, with the 12,700 sq m retail development expected to open in late 2019. There will also be a residential component to the Brickworks site, including parklands and a civic plaza.

Interested parties can express interest here.

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