COVID-19 lockdowns and work-from-home mandates have resulted in high vacancies of inner-city commercial real estate. What to do?
The unprecedented situation has prompted the call for creative ways to reuse these empty spaces.
The 2021 Fleetwood Challenge Cup asked teams of AEC (architectural, engineering and construction) management students from universities across Australia to retain, incorporate and extend buildings into vibrant mixed-use developments with retail and residential elements.
Fleetwood Australia developed the competition in partnership with prefabAUS, the peak body for Australia’s prefabricated building industry. Entries also explored the role of off-site manufacturing and prefabrication methdologies in supporting the development of solutions.
More than 100 students, in 26 teams, from a range of Australian universities, took part in the competition. The judging panel, including an architect, mechanical engineer, structural engineer and physicist, chose four finalists:
- Deakin University Team Two: ‘Think Tank’ (pictured above). This existing warehouse in Geelong becomes a combination of retail spaces and student-focused, modular residential apartments with single- and double-bedroom units, with a ‘think tank’ for the development of marketable products and ideas.
- Curtin University Team Seven: ‘Fremantle Springs’. This redeveloped Heritage shed has been given new life with lightweight, three-storey, multi-residential apartment living, small shopfront and commercial café.
- Curtin University Team Four: ‘Asian Persuasion’. This site in Perth, filled with old industrial buildings, was redesigned to combine market space, ‘click and collect’ and a 24-hour mini-mart on the ground floor, with a second and third floor containing one- and two-bedroom apartments, and a fourth floor containing one-bedroom apartments and a communal garden space.
- Curtin University Team 15: ‘Shipping House’. This industrial warehouse in Fremantle Harbour is expanded with a simple structure designed for commercial function and accomodation.
“With the highest building vacancy rates worldwide following the COVID-19 peak, the need to find sustainable ways to adapt, extend and reconfigure existing buildings with prefabrication and off-site manufacturing is a critical part of the solution,” says prefabAUS executive chair Damien Crough.
The winners of this year’s Fleetwood Challenge Cup will be announced in September.