Bond University and Sekisui House partner to deliver 'real-world' urban design project

Date: 11 August 2021

A ‘real-world’ urban design project has inspired architecture students to get creative at Bond University’s Abedian School of Architecture, by developing a future-proofed residential space in one of the state’s fastest-growing regions — Ripley in south-east Queensland’s booming western growth corridor.

Bond University, in partnership with master community developer and home builder Sekisui House Australia, provided 15 second-year architecture students the opportunity to design a sustainable and ecologically sound residential space, seamlessly linking Ripley Town Centre and Ecco Ripley with a cash prize on offer for the best solution.

Winning students, Justin Stokes and Bella Mulvihill, recently received $1,000 each for their innovative designs — the first large-scale project both students have worked on.

“Out-of-the-box thinking was really emphasised this semester — I learnt how to solve design issues with an alternative approach and have fun with being creative,” Bella said.

Justin said he was thrilled to have developed one of the winning designs and thanked the subject conveners and Sekisui House Australia for the opportunity.

“This project heavily considered density, comfortability and sustainability, and being assessed in a real-world environment was a great opportunity within itself. Overall, the project helped me to develop these skills quickly, and win or no win, the learning outcomes of this project have justified the time and effort that went into the semester,” he said.

Students were assessed based on their analysis of opportunities and responsive design strategies and concepts by an expert panel, including Abedian School of Architecture Associate Professor for Environment and Design, Dr Daniella Ottmann; Clare Design Founder, Lindsay Clare; Jasper Brown Architects Founder, Jasper Brown; and Sekisui House Australia Project Director, Taku Hashimoto.

Dr Ottmann said students applied gamification to their design solutions to demonstrate how people will live, work and play in the future Ripley residential space.

“Gamification is a playful way to explore design thinking and conceptual creativity, so we were excited to see what the students came up with,” she said.

“As aspiring architects, these students are being introduced to global issues surrounding architecture and urbanism, including various ways to approach sustainable urban development, guided by the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

“By considering built-up, open and green space, transport, and public and private infrastructure, students were able to develop a solid understanding of the relationships between the built form and space as solutions, adapted to the local Ripley climate and culture, and its unique characteristics.”

To guide their designs, students toured Ripley Town Centre and Ecco Ripley to see firsthand the considerations of creating a residential space that seamlessly transitions from mid to high-density mixed-use at Ripley Town Centre to low-density residential living at Ecco Ripley.

Sekisui House Australia Project Director, Taku Hashimoto, said the project provided students with real-world experience and promoted practical, but out-of-the-box thinking.

“Students had to think strategically about how their residential design solution was fit-for-purpose, including how noise was managed, where the access points were located, the integration of power transition, and the inclusion of parks and other common space,” Mr Hashimoto said.

“An economic rationale was not required as part of the assessment process, so students really had the freedom to think blue sky and develop a unique, innovative and sustainable concept.”

Bond University and Sekisui House Australia are now exploring opportunities to permanently embed the design project into the architecture curriculum.