Project ReDesign front house view


Overview of design

The rapid overconsumption of the Earth’s finite resources has led to damaging changes to the climate as well as an increase in global waste generation, most of which ends up in landfill. It is now imperative to adopt a sustainable circular economy especially within the resource heavy construction industry.   

In this challenge we will develop healthy and affordable community housing through innovative approaches to repurposing, reprocessing, and recycling waste as a valuable resource. We aim to remove real and perceived barriers to a sustainable future while reducing costs and improving liveability. 

Matt Hammond 

University of Wollongong   

  • B. Science (Physical Geography and Environmental Geosciences);   
  • Minor Sustainable Communities and Environmental Crisis and Response  
  • Creative  
  • Positive Attitude 
  • Leadership and Sustainability Background 

Jordan Janos 

University of Wollongong 

  • B. Architectural Engineering
  • Minor Civil Engineering 
  • Creative 
  • Technical Minded 
  • Sustainability and High Pressure Teamwork Background 

Kavita Lachmaiya 

University of South Australia 

  • B. Construction Management  
  • Organised  Attention to Detail 
  • Task management 
  • Project Management
  • Construction and Health Background 

Edith Lume 

University of Wollongong 

  • B. Civil Engineering 
  • Passionate  
  • Public speaking 
  • Civil Construction and Humanitarian Background 

Ali Husnain 

University of Wollongong 

  • B. Computer Science  
  • Software development 
  • Innovation & creativity 
  • Problem solving  
  • Critical Thinking          

Elizabeth McDonald

University of Canberra 

  • B. Architecture 
  • Creative Thinker 
  • Problem Solver 
  • Passion for Sustainable Design and Material Processes 

Problem statement

The rapid overconsumption of the Earth’s finite resources has led to damaging changes to the climate as well as an increase in global waste generation, most of which ends up in landfill. It is now imperative to adopt a sustainable circular economy especially within the resource heavy construction industry.

In this challenge we will develop healthy and affordable community housing through innovative approaches to repurposing, reprocessing, and recycling waste as a valuable resource. We aim to remove real and perceived barriers to a sustainable future while reducing costs and improving liveability.

Overview of design features and how it addresses the problem statement.

ReDESIGN considers the foremost concern for Circularity House to be investigating waste-derived or recycled alternatives for common building materials. This includes researching current vendors and manufacturers while seeking relevant but exemplary precedents. There is potential for ReDESIGN to undertake explorations into developing novel materials that are waste-derived or easily recycled and processes that enable them to degrade quickly and easily. Ideally these materials would be low-cost and have little-to-no risk to occupants or the environment during sourcing, processing, or manufacture. ReDESIGN would also examine the construction process and consider ways to reduce waste or use waste from one stage of the construction in another.

In designing Circularity House, solar passive design techniques would be implemented wherever possible along with systems that reduce water and energy consumption without infringing on liveability. These would combine with technologies providing self-sufficiency for both dwellings and their residents.

To account for the needs of our occupant and her community as she enters retirement, Circularity House aims to respond to the lifestyle requirements of various demographics and allow current and future occupants to engage with their families and community in a holistic way. It would be expected that the current occupant would receive regular visits from her adult children and young grandchildren, while also acting as host to members of her community, of whom she is an Elder. As such, the home will be adaptable and suitable for a range of ages and abilities – allowing future occupants to enjoy the building to the same capacity.

The team has made the decision to explore how a family can live comfortably in a small footprint that takes advantage of all possibilities for storage and the facilitation of functional spaces. There is potential for any occupant’s family circumstance to change; children are born, grow, and need spaces to study or play and the adults around them may require spaces for work. Included is the need for private spaces for individuals, with an emphasis on spaces where occupants can spend time as a family or welcome neighbours and community members into their home. 

To cater for people that experience decreased mobility - including the current occupant - and the needs of others with disabilities; combined with sustainability, designing a new standard where accessibility is a driving force rather than an afterthought is paramount. A system of easily replicated techniques in residential builds would allow for longer occupancy periods by negating the need to renovate or move.


The design for Circularity House reflects on the need for occupants to engage with the community and the needs of the individual. The following strategies are an exploration on how these needs may be met.


Raising the ceiling height of a space creates a perception of greater space, which is crucial in a residence with a small footprint.


When opportunities for apertures are limited, it becomes important to open up a space to the sky; drawing in light at all times of day and fostering a sense of openness within an enclosure.

Porosity through:


Moveable partitions throughout the house allow for the opening and enclosing of spaces by the occupants as they feel it is needed. The living space is shared, but the movement of a partition allows for many configurations depending on function. Smaller areas may be suitable for work or study, and the change in and out of a working mentality shifts as the partitions do.


Just as the height of the ceiling and the light from above diffuse the feeling of being in a small space, so too does creating boundaries that have softness and permeability. Using layers of textiles for partitions pairs acoustic dampening and ability to block sightlines with ease of manoeuvrability. The choice of material used reflects the intention of the occupant in the space: a sheer textile still gives a sense of being connected to the whole; a thick fabric denotes a wish for privacy.


Having flexible boundaries in a residence gives the occupants freedom to inhabit the space in a way that best suits them.

Public Integration

Does delineation between dwellings need to be constant? By replicating the methods of the internal spaces in external spaces, a fluid movement can extend from the street through the community. This need not disrupt private spaces if they are offset or raised above the informal public spaces that punctuate the matrix.

Global events in recent years have demonstrated a need for many to reconnect to a community. Circularity has removes boundaries for individual backyards and creates a shared corridor. This space could do and be many things: urban farm, play space, a place to rest, a place to socialise, a place to prepare and share meals and activities with people that an occupant would see often. The community green corridor would also host parking and laundry facilities, sparing individuals the cost of amenities they may only use on a weekly or fortnightly basis.

Implementation of passive design

Effective passive solar design will be a critical cornerstone to our design. Maximising solar gain through the orientation of windows will be a particular challenge for this site as the street runs North-South causing most of the townhouses to not have a north facing façade. It will also be necessary to implement shading ensuring that light enters the space only in times of year when it is required consequently keeping the building cool during summer. Natural ventilation will be employed to cool the space and bring in fresh air essential to a healthy home using a smart building system removing the burden from the occupant. The design will ensure cross ventilation as well as the opportunity to utilise the stack effect to freely move air between the two levels of the building. On top of this high levels of insulation in both the walls and roof will be incorporated, including an airtight seal to minimize unwanted heat transfer through the building fabric.

Video to be included of walkthrough of design, video of physical model or compilation of photos/pictures of design or key elements.


ReDESIGN used a variety of materials, nearly all of which are derived from waste to address the SHC criteria with a focus on local, Australian sourced sustainable products. This included assessing the technical innovation, affordability, and the impact to the health of our occupants from these materials. The waste materials used all have a majority recycled content - often 100%. We also considered the embodied energy in their production, their carbon-footprint and also the lifecycle of the products after use, favouring a circular economy and using many natural bio-composites.


Outer Walls

Externally, our walls are made of hempcrete. A combination of a lime binder, sand and hemp hurds - industrial hemp fibre waste product. This was our selected alternative masonry material as it is natural, healthy, sustainable, affordable and it absorbs carbon from the air! Making this product 'Carbon-Negative'! It's certified to BCA standards, is fire resistant, flood resistant (will dry out and not degrade), does not rot or mold, and is termite and insect resistant. It creates an airtight but highly breathable wall. Ideal to cool down the house when it is hot outside and maintain the temperature inside the house when it's cold. This is because it has great thermal insulation properties.  Hempcrete Australia® are based in the Mornington Peninsula, but provide training and support to the builders and tradespeople around Australia. The material also has a fantastic natural texture and light colour that ReDESIGN loves.


Inner Walls

Internally, our walls and ceiling are just your standard plasterboard but, to reduce construction waste, we tried to size all the rooms to match the standard plasterboard size, multiples of 1.2m. We found a great way to recycle these - detailed in our End of Life section.



For our insulation, we are proud to be using a product that you can source at your local Bunnings, Earthwool. It is super-soft to handle and install, and Earthwoolis made using up to 80% recycled glass and with cutting edge technology, a sustainable, bio-based binder that contains no added formaldehyde. It's free from bleach, dye and other colorants. For this material we did not require innovation, because we wanted to support a company that is already pushing for sustainability in Australia. This product has excellent thermal, acoustic and fire-resistant properties and as an added benefit is manufactured in Australia.


Timber Floors

Our timber floors and the house framing are all recycled, repurposed timber as we found this to be an ideal option for our house design. Sustainable and adaptable. Even custom internal finishes and shelving have been designed to use recycled scrap timber. Several companies in Australia source and supply recycled timber, but for structural integrity, the next highest grade of timber must be used to provide a factor of safety. As timber is a natural and infinite resource, we also proposed using sustainably sourced timber, if the right piece was not available.



In our kitchen, we used Green Ceramics, a product developed by Veena Sahajwalla, with UNSW engineers These tiles are made from upcycled waste textiles and recycled glass. They look very unique and also have very high strength properties, ensuring that they will last, before they need to be recycled back into their circular economy again.



For ReDESIGN, health was a key feature we wanted to ensure when using plastic waste materials in our house and in particular the plumbing, as we have 100% recycled waste plastic plumbing for the drinking water, stormwater and sewerage. Vinidex Pipes are Australian owned and operated and do not change the water chemistry or corrode for that matter. They are also fully recyclable. See the Life-Cycle section for details.


Other materials and internal furnishings not detailed here, have been aimed to use recycled or repurposed waste products as the first preference. This includes the house furniture, all unique and quality items carefully picked out from second hand stores, as well as sustainably sourcing internal fitting.

The life cycle of all materials was assessed to ensure that embodied energy, carbon, and water usage over the materials lifespan would provide the most benefit in design and to the environment. This assessment is critical in determining the energy used in repurposing the waste material into a usable state initially as well as reusing it at end of life.

An example of this is the Hemepcrete we used on the external walls. It is fully recyclable at low cost and has low embodied energy to produce. In fact, a tonne of lime-based hempecrete is estimated to absorb and sequester 249kg of CO2 over a 100 year lifecycle. Any waste on site can be re-used in the next mix.  If the building is being demolished, the hempcrete can be easily broken down and used in a new build.  As landfill, hempcrete, being a natural product, will break down over the course of time, add lime and organic matter to the soil.

Another example is our plumbing, Vinidex Pipes, which are fully recyclable and they internally reuse all manufactured scrap, so none of it goes to landfill.  Plastic Pipes and fittings are perfectly suited to a circular economy for this reason. They have a long service life and near infinite reuse. “The manufacturing impact of plastic pipe production is low carbon and low emission. Plastic pipes have a lower embodied energy impact than other pipe system alternatives, outperforming other materials in life cycle analysis studies. See the PIPA website for comparison studies showing the lower carbon footprint of plastic pipe systems.” (Vinidex Pipes, 2021)

When selecting materials, the ReDESIGN team made every attempt to use materials that can be reused at the end of its life for future construction projects by focusing on products that can be disassembled during the design phase. The ability to dissemble coupled with modularity gives the materials the best chance for reuse at the end of their life. Materials have also been designed in such a way that they can be easily separated at the end of their life to enable easy recycling where possible.

Inner Walls

Looking into the lifecycle plasterboard, we found a company, REGYP, Australia’s largest plasterboard recycler, providing cost effective and sustainable plasterboard & gyprock waste collection and recycling services. Their primary purpose with this initiative is to reduce landfill from construction waste. They offer waste collection services all over Australia and supply options from 1 tonne waste bags, to skip bins and even grab trucks and large tip trucks. They service everyone from residential renovations to new commercial builders and demolition contractors. There are three disposal sites in Sydney from which they recycle the product into paper, more plasterboard and primarily 95% agricultural fertiliser - improving soil.

Circularity House is a project designed for Keira Jones, a proud Dharawal elder who lives with one of her daughters and their family, while Keira’s other two children also live locally with their families. As such, we expect that Keira will regularly have family and members of her community staying over at her house. Circularity House has thus been designed to suit all levels of accessibility requirements for the current and future occupants, all while maintaining the other goals of the home.

We have developed our design and material choices with consideration as to how they affect all aspects of a healthy home including quality of natural and artificial lighting, thermal comfort, noise pollution/acoustics, biophilia, privacy/security, universal accessibility, occupant experience, as well as the safety and how the air quality is affected by the chosen waste materials.

An example of this is our 100% recycled waste plastic plumbing, Vinidex pipes. They are safe for drinking water as they do not change the water chemistry or corrode and the PVC, PE and PP manufactured products contain no heavy metals such as lead and cadmium, or any phthalates, dioxins and BPAs.

Most residences built today emphasise individuality of the dwelling, including townhouses and apartments, which by nature should allow for a better focus on community interaction. Instead, most exchanges with neighbours occur in passing, in lifts or stairwells. If boundaries between dwellings are extended or softened (without impeding on an individual’s privacy), intentional social spaces can be created that work as functional communal spaces which allow for greater proximity to residents through the course of the day.

Where possible all materials used have an established and local supply chain. Sourcing materials from providers that have transparent supply chain will ensure that we can know what materials that building truly uses and their sustainable properties.

To keep costs as low as possible, Circularity House is composed primarily of up- or re-cycled materials where practical. Locally sourced materials are also the preferred choice to reduce the emissions of transport, support local businesses and to incorporate Wollongong’s unique beauty as a part of the Circularity House.
Due to the social stigmas of both social housing and recycled materials, ReDESIGN aim to create a home that looks new and refined in appearance in preference to a home embracing the recycled aesthetic.

An example of this is our insulation, Earthwool, made from 80% recycled glass. This is the cheapest, yet still high-quality, insulation available at Bunnings.

The house aims to be net-zero energy and carbon neutral. This will be achieved through passive design principals, discerning material selection and renewable technology use, such as the solar panels on the roof.

The embodied energy of the house will be as low as possible with material consideration given to their full life-cycle energy consumption. Our wall material, hempcrete, is actually considered to be ‘carbo-negative’ over its lifespan.

Many proposed solutions in our design will be cutting edge and very innovative, which is a key component to using waste resources and materials, especially as new technologies are constantly emerging. We endeavour to incorporate innovation, not only with materials but also with the house design itself aligning community interaction and occupant accessibility. Our team set out to balance our innovative solutions with established sustainable waste materials, that are already in commercially available in Australia. These proven materials and waste reuse approaches will be a valuable asset for our team to create a viable house design.

Pitch Video

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This challenge has taught me that 6 students who have never met, at the infancy of their careers, working together remotely from different corners of Australia, can make a difference if we’re armed with the right resources and passion.


I have learned so much, not only about waste reuse but also the sustainable design life-cycle and the value of resources, which we so often take for granted. Being involved in the SHC has developed my creative problem-solving skills, improved my understanding of supply chains and also introduced me to other passionate young individuals, who also want to make a difference.


I found the experience of interdisciplinary learning with fellow students from different backgrounds of thought to be invigorating and helped me to understand sustainable contexts from a new perspective. The Sustainable Homes Challenge has provided the opportunity to expand my knowledge and ways of understanding the world in which we live and gave me a brand-new respect for the various aspects of homes and buildings.


Taking part in the SHC has been an invaluable experience; being able to work with people who have all kinds of disciplinary backgrounds but share the same passion and values really cements the feeling of opportunity we have to make changes to attitudes and standard practice as the next generation of industry leaders.


My time spent during the SHC has been an awesomely exciting experience. Plus, my team was exceptionally creative and supportive.


Working through the challenge has taught me so much about sustainability over the entire lifespan of a building as well as intelligent use of resources in a circular economy. Being part of an interdisciplinary group, relying on each other’s strengths while sharing the same passion has demonstrated how the next generation of industry experts can enact change.