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Building Construction, Government VIC

Winners of the Living Building Challenge Design Competition Illuminate the Path to Regenerative Design for an Australian Historic Structure

Living Future Institute of Australia 5 mins read

Announced today: The architects, designers, and students who emerged victorious in the ILLUMANATE Living Building Challenge® Design Competition.


6 December | The Living Future Institute of Australia (LFIA) today announces the winners of the ILLUMANATE Living Building Challenge® Design Competition, in partnership with Development Victoria. 


Through three categories, professional, student (university), and people’s choice, the competition challenged the build environment sector to design the most regenerative, and restorative, heritage-listed building in Australia, which must live up to precise environmental, self-sustaining standards, including generating its own energy and capturing and treating its own water.


The competition revolved around a heritage-listed 1970s building in Melbourne’s Sunshine North, part of Development Victoria's sustainable mixed-use plan.


The winners are:

  • Professional Category: Includesign & Mine in the Sky (Team members include Dr. Angelica Rojas, Marco Cubillos, Dr. Dominique Hes, Elena Pereyra, Aimee Mehan and Alexander Arboleda)
    • This project created a narrative that moves between the two creeks on site, drawing from the traditional practices of the Kurung-jang-balluk people who would have rested here, feasted here, hunted here, and told their stories here. The design highlights the potential for residents and visitors to rediscover the relationship of caring for place and each other.
  • Student Category: Breathe on the Land by Chon Kei Lam, from the University of Melbourne
    • This project aimed to reintroduce the word "nature" to the site, through using the surrounding remnant grassland as an opportunity to reimagine the future life of living on grassland. 
    • Lam states that “In the contemporary world, there exists a clear boundary between human and nature. "Nature" is often referred to as plants or animals from which we exclude ourselves.”
  • People’s Choice: Resonance by Arkee Studio Pty Ltd (Team members include Rean Zhuo, Dino Delotavo, Zilin Zhou, Yu Tian, Hao Chen
    • This project combined heritage preservation and sustainability to create a thriving community hub called The Sunshine Hub (SHiVE). 
    • This innovative project embodies the vision of evolving into a cherished community hub that resonates with significance for individuals today and for generations to come. 

LFIA has reported a 94% increase in the number of entries since the first competition ran in 2016. The initial competition inspired Burwood Brickworks Shopping Centre to pursue the Living Building Challenge® (LBC) and as a result, successfully obtained Petal Certification, becoming the first and only shopping centre in the world to do so


This year’s judging panel was impressed by the 33 complete submissions, showcasing a remarkable depth of understanding of the LBC.The LBC Certification is a high-performance program that sets the benchmark for buildings that go beyond sustainability with regenerative design. It’s one of the most advanced measures of sustainability worldwide.


In this year's competition, LFIA redirected its attention towards existing buildings. With estimates suggesting that up to 80% of buildings that will exist in 2050 already exist today, achieving Net Zero by then necessitates deep retrofits. 


The designs underwent a meticulous two-stage judging process, with a focus on three core criteria that served as the guiding principles for the evaluation of each submission. 


Stage one evaluated the entries against the LBC imperatives - those that could theoretically achieve at least Petal Certification were shortlisted. Stage two focused on functionality and realisation potential. The designs needed to demonstrate practicality and functionality in a repurposed, heritage-listed building concept. Additionally, they aimed to assess whether these designs could realistically achieve the Living Building challenge, paving the way for a sustainable and vibrant future.


Many entries shared a common emphasis on circular economy, nature-based, and nature-positive concepts. This widespread focus indicates a growing awareness in the design community for the need of practical and regenerative solutions in the face of contemporary social, cultural and environmental challenges.


Why is this important? 

In a time where the built environment generates 40% of annual global CO2 emissions regenerative design presents a pathway to change, where buildings go beyond being merely green and become restorative, giving back to the people who inhabit them, the land they stand on, and the resources they utilise. This is crucial in order to continue working towards creating an environmentally  thriving planet. Investing in the future is pivotal, towards a place where modern architecture forges a unity between design and nature. 


LFIA CEO Laura Hamilton-O’Hara commented:, “We are delighted by the number and quality of entries we received this year. It certainly made the judging a challenge. Thank you to all the teams for the amount of time and care put into your entry. To see the building come to life in many unique, regenerative and imaginative ways was inspiring. Thank you to Development Victoria for partnering with us to run this world first ideas competition and congratulations to all the winners."


Penny Forrest, Group Head Housing, Development Victoria says: "We are so proud to have partnered with LFIA in the ILLUMANATE Living Building Challenge Design Competition which recognises innovation in sustainable design, and aligns strongly with our commitment to creating a sustainable future for all Victorians.”



  • Bohemia Hookham, Lendlease

  • Claire Martin, OCULUS

  • Kai Chen, Lovell Chen

  • Kelvin Walsh, Brimbank City Council

  • Penny Forrest, Development Victoria

  • Roger Nelson, Roger Nelson

  • Stefan Preuss, Office of the Victorian Government Architect (OVGA)

  • Tim Miller, Development Victoria

  • Yuyuen Leow, Hayball



  • Professional category:

    • Ordinary Extra Ordinary, by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (Andrew ODonnell)

    • It Takes a Village, by ARUP (Team members include Richard Stokes, Amil Alhasan, Nick Birmingham, Elly  Russell, Joan Ko.)

  • Student Category:

    • LUMA Cooking Hub, by Chukang Liang, University of Melbourne

    • Alina Walizade, University of Melbourne


As part of a global movement spearheaded by International Living Future Institute (ILFI), LFIA is actively revolutionising the built environment with regenerative design principles. Pioneering projects such as the Living Building Challenge, Biophilic Design Initiative, and Just and Declare aim to replenish resources, foster a deep connection with nature, and regenerate life itself. 




To learn more about LFIA's 2023 design competition and see the projects, visit here


Available for interview: 

  • Laura Hamilton-O'Hara, CEO of Living Future Institute Australia—Laura's visionary leadership propels the organisation's mission to leverage the power of the built environment as a catalyst for transformative change. Under Laura's guidance, LFIA harnesses the boundless potential of sustainable architecture and design to reimagine our cities and communities. With an unwavering commitment to creating a socially just, culturally rich, and ecologically restorative world, Laura fosters collaboration across sectors and empowers change-makers to push the boundaries of what's possible.

  • Winners available upon request.


Press Bank: HERE

About us:

About LFIA: Established in 2012, the Living Future Institute of Australia (LFIA) is an Affiliate of the International Living Future Institute (ILFI). ILFI is an environmental NGO committed to creating communities that are socially just, culturally rich and ecologically restorative. It operates the Living Building Challenge, the built environment’s most ambitious performance standard, as well as many other visionary programs that support the transformation toward a living future. ILFI’s global movement is revolutionising the built environment with regenerative design. LFIA  support this movement and ILFI by providing education & training, advocacy, and opportunities for connection for ILFI programs in Australia.


About Development Victoria: Development Victoria is a government agency partnering with industry and community to transform ambitious ideas into reality. And together, we deliver places that make a genuine difference to the people of Victoria. We balance community needs with commercial discipline – and our experience shows that sustainable, livable places deliver the best long-term return for all. 

Contact details:


Rachel Harrison | | 0487 288 144

Corah Fortune | | 0405 833 757

Emma Eager | | 0420 245 305

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