Populous Joins Cross-Industry Sustainability Research Initiative in Australia

March 18, 2024

Populous has joined Building 4.0 CRC, an industry-led research initiative co-funded by the Australian Government. The Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) Program, established in 1990, aims to fund industry-led collaborations between industry, researchers and end-users.

Building 4.0 CRC aims to foster a thriving Australian advanced manufacturing sector, deliver better buildings at lower costs, and develop the human capacity to lead the future building and construction industry.

Populous APAC is partnering on the #48 shared interest project titled “Scoping Study for Building the Future – Circular Economy,” led by Professor Leonie Barner from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT).

The project is a scoping study toward a roadmap for the design and construction industry to transition to a circular economy. This model aims to design out waste and pollution by maximizing the utility of products and materials, thereby reducing excessive material extraction and manufacturing. This approach also supports natural systems to regenerate, which may be crucial for stabilizing the climate.

Chris Paterson, a Brisbane-based Director at Populous, emphasized the importance of the Circular Economy project, stating:

Participating in the Building 4.0 CRC is not just about advancing knowledge; it’s about synergizing diverse expertise to push the boundaries of architecture and design to address the reality of climate crisis.

Populous is committed to innovation, aiming to deliver net-zero buildings by 2030. This commitment is evident in projects like Stade de la Meinau, where upcycled Airbus A340 fuselage sections will serve as facade sun shading devices, and Commbank Stadium, pictured above, where the steel structure can be deconstructed for reuse and recycling.

A key focus within the CRC is on digital technology to aid resource efficiency and design delivery. Jonathan Nelson, Populous Global Head of Digital, emphasized its significance:

Digital technology remains a critical layer to how Populous conceptualizes, designs, and constructs spaces in new ways. The Cooperative Research Centres project presents an opportunity to revolutionise and mainstream digital tools that can accurately achieve the designer’s creative vision, as well as measure and track key building performance metrics.

Populous’ large civic infrastructure projects can enable Circular Economy principles, including adaptive reuse, material recovery and planning for flexibility and adaptability.

Nick Fitzgerald, a Senior Architectural Designer at Populous, highlights the importance of reusing existing building stock:

As an architect I am conscious of how the built environment contributes significantly to the carbon in the atmosphere and ecosystem degradation. The opportunity here is to see existing building stock as material banks, a kit of parts and bring about new ways of designing to preserve our biodiversity.

During the Building 4.0 CRC Conference in October 2023, Populous APAC led the Circular Economy roundtable session with QUT and BlueScope, emphasizing the importance of inter-organizational collaboration, prototyping new construction and procurement models and implementing necessary policies to support circularity.

Drawing from these experiences and lessons, Populous APAC will continue to explore Circular Economy methodologies that can be integrated across architecture and design projects. The work will be led by Dr Kavita Gonsalves, Populous Sustainability Design Lead – APAC, and Senior Architectural Designer Nick Fitzgerald.

For further inquiries or information related to the initiative, please email sustainability@populous.com


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