DesignBUILD wraps up for another year

DesignBUILD wraps up for another year
Laurence DragomirMay 10, 2018

Based around the core theme of "It's all in the detail" for 2018, the 32nd annual DesignBUILD expo wrapped up last Friday, with a number of topics being discussed by industry experts over the course of the three day event, which took place at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. 

Amongst them, was the Build-to-rent model and the a key role it could play in addressing Australia’s housing crisis. However, there was a general consensus that for this to be implemented successfully the tax system needs to adapt and more government incentives would need to be introduced, according to industry experts speaking at the event.

Also a hot topic at DesignBUILD was the advent and adoption of prefabrication as another potential solution to the housing affordability crisis due to its efficiency, lower costs and construction time.  The biggest challenge facing the industry in making this type of construction more mainstream in Australia, however, is educating consumers of the time and cost benefits of prefab construction without the quality suffering.

DesignBUILD wraps up for another year
DesignBUILD 2018 was centred around the theme "it's all in the detail". Image: Supplied

DesignBUILD comprises a trade exhibition for manufacturers and suppliers, alongside two seminar and education programs. was on hand during day two and attended two of the seminar presentations, exploring topics in innovation, with presentations on new products and materials leading change in global build and design solutions as well as insights into prefab construction, and whether it is a threat or an opportunity for building and construction.

Two of the presentations attended are outlined below;

Future Proofing Commercial Buildings: How design and construction needs to adapt for the workplace of the future

  • Anneke Thompson - Colliers International
  • Eliza Owen - CoreLogic
  • Nick Travers - Technē Architecture and Interior Design
  • Tim Phillips - Tilt Industrial
  • Prof. Des Smith - Deakin University

Professor Smith argued that trends for workplace design come and go but it's critical that the shell of the building is well designed and robust enough that it is still standing in 100 years time. He used the DCM-designed Melbourne Exhibition Centre as an example where the architects designed the shell for others to then come in and curate - everything below the structural supports for the immense roof.

Nick Travers discussed some of the learnings that could be taken from the office's experience in the hospitality sector and how these could be applied to the design of workspaces particularly when retrofitting old warehouse shells or within other adaptive re-use projects for offices.

Colliers' Anneke Thompson, who chaired the discussion spoke about the importance of a well-designed workplace and the culture it creates in ensuring staff retention for businesses.

Changes in Buyer Expectations: From the cookie cutter to bespoke materials, fixtures and fittings with an artisanal appeal

Moderated by Stephen Crafti, one of Melbourne's most prolific architecture and design writers, the presentation focused on the changing attitudes towards apartment living and how people's expectations and demands have changed since the early 90's.

David Allt-Graham spoke about MAB's experience in Docklands and the changing demands of prospective buyers, particularly with regard to amenities and communal areas. Discussing MAB's latest project, Escala within the NewQuay precinct, Allt-Graham spoke about how they aimed to bring in elements of the CBD to the design while commenting on the impacts of the new Better Apartment Design Standards (BADS) might have on the market.

Debbie McBride spoke of the firm's use of colour and the impact it can have on purchasers - a feature that provides a distinguishing quality to a development- and how this played out on the QVII and Quays developments, working with different developers. On the topic of apartment standards, McBride noted that despite QVII being a highly lauded project, if you were to apply the BADS rigorously then most of the apartments wouldn't comply yet they are well designed and highly sought after.

There was a general consensus amongst the panel that although the BADS would raise the quality of apartments being delivered at the lower end of the market, one unintended consequence is that it might hinder design innovation at the upper end.

Beyond the speaker sessions, a range of new products and service providers were on display, with fixtures, fittings, electricals and new home innovations. International exhibitors showcased innovations in bamboo whilst local supplier, Aircharge shared new ways to power electronic devices. Plant walls and interior décor ideas were also in abundance.

DesignBUILD wraps up for another year
One of the many panel discussions at DesignBUILD 2018. Image: Supplied

DesignBUILD is about bringing together people who are talking about the big topics that the industry is starting to deal with, and most importantly looking to drive change.

With the Australian population continuing to swell at such a fast rate, this is a crucial time for the architecture, building, construction and design communities to come together and discuss some of the big challenges faced by their industries, and that’s what DesignBUILD is all about. We’re delighted to be able to bring together experts from across the country and provide this forum of discussion.

We can’t wait to come back next year with an even bigger and better program. Each year DesignBUILD grows and we welcome more attendees, we can’t wait to see what else we can achieve.

- Pia Argiratos, Conference Director  

DesignBUILD 2019 will be on next year from Tuesday 14 May – Thursday 16 May 2019 at the International Convention Centre Sydney, Darling Harbour.

Laurence Dragomir

Laurence Dragomir is one of the co-founders of Urban Melbourne. Laurence has developed a wealth of knowledge and experience working in both the private and public sector specialising in architecture, urban design and planning. He also has a keen interest in the built environment, cities and Star Wars.

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