Deakin research lab looks for ways to help us live better and smarter

A new Deakin University research lab will tackle one of the 21st century’s biggest challenges: rapid urbanisation and the decline of rural areas.

The Live+Smart Lab, part of the School of Architecture and Built Environment, will look for ways to help us live better in a rapidly urbanised world.

Lab Director Dr Phillip Roös said researchers would consider how building and design could address issues such as ecological and socio-cultural sustainability, along with the community’s health and wellbeing.

“Along with human beings’ innate connection to nature and the world around us, these are all factors that contribute to liveability and are areas which the Lab’s research team have strong expertise in and we look forward to delving into some ground-breaking applied research to create real-world solutions,” Dr Roös said.

“The Live+Smart Lab gives us the opportunity to collaborate across Deakin’s schools, faculties, and institutes, due to the multi-disciplinary nature of research in the sustainable and liveable cities agenda.

“Over half of the world’s population now lives in urban areas, with cities consuming 75 per cent of the world’s natural resources and 80 per cent of the global energy supply while producing around 75 per cent of global carbon emissions.

“But what is more concerning is that the wellbeing of residents and quality of our healthy environments in our cities is declining.”

Projects underway within the Live+Smart Lab include:

Coastal Scenario Planning Model

Researchers are working in partnership with the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee to investigate the impacts of coastal developments and sea level rises, with the effects visually represented in a dynamic 3D and virtual reality platform.

“This exciting opportunity to model different scenarios of impacts on the coast in the Jan Juc to Point Impossible coastal area is setting a new benchmark in how we can plan and manage unprecedented pressures on our Victorian coastline,” Dr Roös said.

Enhanced Learning Environments through Biophilic Design (humans’ innate connection to nature)

In partnership with Rendine Constructions, using Biophilic Design Principles to create classrooms that enhance the learning, wellbeing and health of children.

“There is a huge trend in providing new classrooms to schools through modular construction but these classrooms don’t always provide stimulating and healthy environments for the students. We investigated how these modular classrooms can be improved by applying the principles of Biophilic Design,” Dr Roös said.

City of Melton Liveable and Smart City Strategy

The Lab is working in partnership with the City of Melton to develop the strategy, using a dynamic scenario planning model to assist decision making in a rapid growth area.

“This planning model will help the council with crucial decision making to support the creation of a liveable and lovable Melton,” Dr Roös said.

Heal the Scar at Anglesea

The project involves developing a replicable approach to the regeneration of exhausted quarry and mine sites, using the former Alcoa site at Anglesea as a case study.

“It is very important for the future of the Anglesea mine site to first heal the land, acknowledge Aboriginal custodianship and reinstate the water catchment of the area before any developments occur. Our Regenerative-Adaptive methodology allowed us to propose alternative futures for this environmentally sensitive place,” Dr Roos said.

In collaboration with global architecture practice Grimshaw, Heal the Scar has developed three scenarios for the Anglesea site which lies within the environmentally sensitive Anglesea Heath and adjoins the Great Otways National Park.

They include restoration, which is the minimum work needed to return the site to its natural environment and restore current ecological systems including creek flows into the Anglesea River.

The second option is regeneration, which includes the restoration plus further cultural heritage elements such as a Wadawurrung Indigenous cultural centre to share learnings about caring for Country.

The final option would be adaptation, which adds to restoration and regeneration by developing the land for sustainable community ventures such as food production in a high performance solar powered greenhouse system that effectively creates a closed loop system for energy and food production.

“The establishment of the Live+Smart Lab is one of our greatest opportunities in the School. It offers a major venue across Deakin to maximise our research expertise in a multidisciplinary and holistic way. It is not just about smart technology but fundamentally about the need for liveability and wellbeing,” Dr Roös said.

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