A big welcome for a small SHED

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Left to right: QUT third-year architecture student Irene Wirawan and first-year student Brianna Doyle help launch the SHED as part of QUT Sustainability Week. Picture: QUT

QUT Sustainability Week opens this week with the launch of a student-led on-campus hub with real-world impact that has been shortlisted for a prestigious Australasian award.

More than 200 students from different disciplines have been involved in concept planning, design and construction of the SHED (Sustainability in Higher Education), with incoming Queensland Chief Scientist, QUT Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Sustainability and Research Integrity) Professor Kerrie Wilson (pictured below), helping to launch the SHED as part of QUT Sustainability Week.Professor Kerrie Wilson at the launch of the SHED at QUT on Monday.“This project came about from the need for a space for sustainability on campus to bring together and showcase the work that many of us are doing across the university for sustainabilty education, research and the management of our campuses,” Professor Wilson said during the launch.

The compact building incorporates sustainable design principles including the use of recycled and sustainably sourced materials and walls of edible and native gardens and will be used to host events and activities that support and encourage students across all study areas to pursue knowledge and embed sustainability principles into their study and career journeys.

And in a coup for QUT, the SHED project has been shortlisted for a 2023 Green Gown Award as a leading example of next generation learning and skills, with the Australasian award to be announced on November 2.

QUT Sustainability Manager, Leigh Burgess, commending the SHED project for its collaborative approach to creating a real-world learning environment for students while also creating an engagement space that will help QUT to achieve educational, environmental and social benefits for QUT students, staff, and the broader community.

“This project has given each student a deeper understanding of the need for sustainability to underpin every design,” Ms Burgess said.

“Design can fuel unsustainable lifestyles and widescale planetary damage and it’s about understanding how to incorporate a circular economy approach, and how to bring greater criticality to a design approach.”
The SHED is a collaborative project between Facilities Management, the Faculty of Engineering and the Faculty of Creative Industries, Education and Social Justice.

It began in 2021 and was embedded into three QUT undergraduate units in 2022 with a budget of $75,000.

“Projects like this give students a taster of the processes involved in real-world projects,” QUT Design Thinking for the Built Environment unit coordinator Dr Sara Omrani, said.

“Real world projects are often not straightforward and sometimes there are contradictory requirements involved that need to be managed by the project team. It has been great to see them engage in meaningful conversations and negotiations when proposing solutions.”

The project’s first stage involved School of Architecture students preparing briefs. These briefs were then used by students in two units across the Faculty of Engineering and Faculty of Creative Industries, Education and Social Justice who sought advice from the inaugural QUT Elder in Residence Uncle Cheg, and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Australians) Angela Barney-Leitch, and worked with the client, QUT Sustainability Manager Leigh Burgess, to develop the brief and design in line with QUT Sustainability Action Plan and Campus to Country Positioning Strategy principles.

The designs were completed and presented to QUT Facilities Management. One design from each unit was chosen and the students worked together and in collaboration with architect firm Eco Effective Solutions and builder PODcon to create one final design for the Facilities Management team.

“Architectural design requires students to learn to attune to the built environment differently and to synthesise their new knowledge in ways that can be quite unfamiliar and challenging at first,” QUT unit coordinator Dr Anna Tweeddale said.

“In the case of the QUT Sustainability SHED the students rose to the demands of this deceptively simple design brief and, in their very first semester, produced numerous designs that would each have made a successful addition to the campus.”

Working with experts in the built environment has been an inspiration for third-year QUT architecture student Irene Wirawan whose design was chosen along with that of first-year student Brianna Doyle, to come up with the final SHED design.

“Working together with other designers and built environment practitioners has been very helpful, to see how they also have various approaches to sustainable design,” Ms Wirawan said.

The SHED is located in the V Block podium at the QUT Gardens Point campus and will become a bookable sustainability space.

QUT Sustainability Week continues until Friday. A full program of events can be found HERE.

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