Built and living environment

Design decisions and actions concerning our built and living environments are at the core of the climate and biodiversity crises. Globally, the building and construction sector accounted for over 37 per cent of energy and process-related CO2 emissions in 2021 and according to UNEP the sector is not on track to achieve decarbonisation by 2050. More generally, UN HABITAT reports that urban areas are responsible for 70 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions and much related biodiversity degradation, based on land-use choices made through planning and property that affect our patterns of mobility, agriculture, retail, industry and housing.

Moreover, these design decisions often reproduce complex, systemic barriers that prevent us from meaningfully addressing the linked challenges of social justice, cultural diversity, and public health, alongside environmental sustainability.

Yet, as the practices of design, architecture, building and planning embody, reveal and shape our shared societal perspectives and agendas on these challenges, they can also positively define or impact the technologies, infrastructures, environments, and practices of everyday life that become our future living environments.

So, the Built and Living Environment research theme brings together researchers whose work shapes possible futures for a retrofitted sustainable and healthy built environment, climate-resilient places, circular biomaterials and regenerative landscapes, affordable sustainable housing, participatory design and ownership, Indigenous knowledge systems and Designing for Country, inclusive social infrastructures and ethical urban technologies, distributed infrastructures for mobility, energy, water and waste, nature-based technologies, the future of cities and towns, suburbs and neighbourhoods, and more besides.

Finally, our collaborative and place-based approach to research extends to demonstrating design's integrative role as the 'cement between the bricks' between other disciplines and perspectives, developing meaningful research partnerships in these areas both across Faculties and beyond the university.

Program Lead

Dan Hill, Professor and Director, Melbourne School of Design, Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning

Early career researcher co-lead

Anna Hurlimann, Assistant Dean (Graduate Research) and Associate Professor in Urban Planning, Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning

Grants and Resources

  • Integrating Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation in Built Environments’ Funded through ARC Discovery Grant Scheme 2020-2023. Anna Hurlimann, Georgia Warren-Myers, Alan March, Judy Bush and Sareh Moosavi.
  • ‘Rephraming integrated design: towards a more comprehensive software tool that integrates life cycle assessment into the design of buildings, neighbourhoods and cities.’ Funded through Climate Research Accelerator funding by Melbourne Climate Futures. James Helal, Robert Crawford, Georgia Warren-Myers, Dan Hill, Elisa Lumantarna and Pablo Sepulvedo.
  • Sustainable and Healthy Environments Lab. A lab specialised in developing applied research aimed at understanding how the built environment can improve sustainability and health through the design of high performance spaces.
  • The Retrofit Lab. A Research and Innovation Laboratory activating the transition of Melbourne's buildings, infrastructure and landscapes for a healthy, sustainable, and resilient city.

Associated Researchers

Judy Bush

Christhina Candido

Patrick Cobbinah

Robert Crawford

Kathryn Davidson

Alex Felson

James Helal

Anna Hurlimann

Chris Jensen

Alan March

Cathy Oke

Zahra Assarkhaniki

Kajsa Lundberg

John Stone

Alexei Trundle

Peter Raisbeck

Georgia Warren-Myers