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Design competition looks at adapting empty buildings

An Australian design competition based around tackling major issues facing the construction sector has issued a new challenge this year: adapt and reconfigure empty buildings.

Established in 2020, the Fleetwood Challenge Cup is an inter-university, cross-disciplinary team competition which aim is to uncover the next generation of built environment professionals.

The competition is developed by prefabAUS, the peak body for Australia’s offsite construction industry, in partnership with modular building solutions provider Fleetwood.

“We have created a platform for some of the best and brightest minds to work across disciplines and get exposure to the innovation, possibilities and flexibility offsite manufacturing has to offer,” says Chief Operating Officer at Fleetwood Building Solutions, Jason Kunkler.

The university teams include emerging architects, engineers and construction professionals.

In the inaugural competition, held last year, students were challenged to provide a novel solution to address the shortage of affordable housing in Australia by developing flexible designs that could be easily changed and relocated over a 50-year lifespan.

A judging panel comprising Australia’s architectural, engineering and construction management (AEC) companies assessed 10 designs submitted from The University of Melbourne, Curtin University, The University of Queensland and Monash University.

The University of Melbourne team won the 2020 Fleetwood Challenge Cup overall award with its “ecoShip” design.

This year, the university teams are tasked to adapt and reconfigure empty buildings to drive building re-use incorporating both residential and retail components.

The challenge, to be addressed by senior AEC students, will leverage offsite manufacturing and prefabrication as a tool to support flexible adaption of existing spaces to meet the demands of the future.

“As the peak body for Australia’s offsite construction industry, we see the Fleetwood Challenge Cup as a great opportunity to showcase innovation in action,” says prefabAUS Executive Chair, Damien Crough.

“As we emerge from the COVID pandemic with very high vacancy rates, the need to find sustainable ways to adapt, extend and reconfigure existing buildings using prefabrication and offsite manufacturing is more vital than ever before.

We look forward to seeing the creative solutions this year’s teams come up with.”

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