December 2019 saw the official opening of Burwood Brickworks shopping centre. NH Architecture was appointed by Frasers Property to design the ‘world’s most sustainable shopping centre’ in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne, which redefines the assumed antithesis of the consumer experience and sustainable development. The urban regeneration project presents Australia’s first retail build to receive a 6 Green Star Design and As Built rating as well as being the first LBC certified shopping centre in the world. The biophilic design uniquely considers human scale, each of the building’s multiple elements offer a sensory experience through the pastiche of contrasting and yet coherent design motifs.
Burwood Brickwork’s exists as a tangible embodiment of the LBC’s analogous flower framework, both visually and quantifiably – taking all its energy needs from the sun and renewable sources. With 40% of the building’s energy being produced by 3300 rooftop solar panels alongside a ‘closed loop’ system which treats all grey water on site for reuse, without producing waste or toxicity.
Reclaimed and recycled materials are consistent throughout the building’s language, with the timber, brick and furnishing’s expression all being derived from natural forms. The curved, crushed brick and glass façade offers a unique tactility through the juxtaposition of variated textures, whilst also referencing the site’s history. The historic reimagination is further actualised in the ‘factory-esque’ form of the sawtooth roof.
The design recognises the cultural significance of relationship to traditional country, through a design collaboration with Balarinji and multi-disciplinary artist Mandy Nicholson. Nicholson’s expansive Aboriginal art installation sweeps across the interior of the sawtooth roof. The six layers of Wurundjeri country are represented on each panel, both interacting with the ridged form of the ceiling, whilst simultaneously transcending it, in the depiction of ubiquitous Aboriginal culture – which often is hidden within the urban context.
The multi-faceted design ensures the patron’s sensory experience is consistently stimulating throughout. The rooftop urban farm and striking verdant potted plant façade offer a visual, haptic and olfactory connection with nature and an interplay of rich textures as well as being a distinctive emblem of the LBC. 20% of the site is dedicated to food growing purposes, with the urban farm being the first of its kind to exist within a shopping centre. The urban farm will feature heavily in the educational programmes on offer at the Insight Early Learning Centre, seasonally supplement the rooftop café and restaurant whilst ensuring the omission of VOCs or red list chemicals.