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Winning University of Melbourne team take out the Fleetwood Challenge Cup

Winning University of Melbourne team take out the trophy for Australia’s first inter- University design competition – the Fleetwood Challenge Cup

Australia’s most innovative young minds have been addressing construction’s biggest issues through a new, cross-faculty design competition, the Fleetwood Challenge Cup, developed by prefabAUS in partnership with Fleetwood.

Melbourne, 2021. Tonight at University of Melbourne’s Parkville Campus, the winners of the inaugural 2020 Fleetwood Cup Challenge were honoured for their outstanding submissions and contribution.

Developed by prefabAUS in partnership with Fleetwood, The Challenge Cup poses a new design challenge to be addressed by senior architectural, engineering and construction management (AEC) students each year. The focus for the 2020 Fleetwood Challenge Cup was to develop solutions to address Australia’s housing affordability crisis.

While the overall calibre of entries from Universities across Australia was exceptionally high (please see below notes to editor for list of participating universities), the University of Melbourne students took out the top honours for their innovative, intelligent and creative approach.

The Challenge Cup was developed to solve some of Australia’s largest construction challenges using teams with a mix of architectural, engineering and construction (AEC) management students. High building vacancy rates, demand in social infrastructure, lagging productivity, tight labour markets and ageing populations all becoming pressing issues being addressed by tomorrow’s AEC professionals.

The Fleetwood Challenge Cup tasked students to form a multi-disciplinary team of four to six students and work collaboratively through the design process to come up with an innovative solution to a challenging brief relating to issues facing industry and then technically verify the validity of their approach.

Fleetwood Australian Chief Operating Officer Jason Kunkler commented, “I am delighted to meet the University of Melbourne team who were the deserving winners of Fleetwood’s inaugural 2020 Challenge Cup.

“I’m impressed by the standard of young talent we have in the Australian construction industry. We believe a new level of collaboration and fresh thinking is required to push the boundaries in order to deliver more sustainable, flexible and adaptable building solutions. The Fleetwood Challenge Cup provides a platform for some of the best and brightest young minds to work across architectural, engineering and construction management disciplines to gain exposure to the exciting possibilities and flexibility that offsite manufacturing has to offer.”

prefabAUS Executive Chair, Damien Crough commented, “As the peak body for Australia’s offsite construction industry, we are proud to partner with Fleetwood to deliver the Challenge Cup and showcase ingenuity in action. The University of Melbourne team should be proud of their outstanding solution developed to help address the affordable housing crisis that took out the contest in 2020.

“We were delighted with the calibre of entries last year and to hear that students enjoyed the experience of working together to solve real world issues. The success of the inaugural competition, despite COVID-related challenges, was the inspiration and launching pad for this year’s Fleetwood Challenge Cup.

“With the highest building vacancy rates world-wide following the COVID-19 peak, the need to find sustainable ways to adapt, extend and reconfigure existing buildings with prefabrication and offsite manufacturing is critical. We look forward to seeing what exciting ideas this year’s Challenge Cup participants will bring to alleviate the toughest year the Australian construction sector has faced. “

Whilst tonight’s event is about celebrating the winners of the 2020 competition, prefabAUS and Fleetwood are delighted to announce the 2021 Challenge Cup is well underway with entries due by June 30.

With the world emerging from COVID-19 this year, students are challenged to use adaptive reuse to address record-high building vacancy rates in the wake of the pandemic.

The 2021 Fleetwood Challenge Cup has already received overwhelming interest from Australia’s brightest AEC students who are working to adapt and reconfigure empty buildings to drive building re-use incorporating both residential and retail components. Offsite manufacturing and prefabrication are being leveraged as a tool to support flexible adaption of existing spaces to meet the demands of the future.

Jason Kunkler further commented, “With the 2021 competition now well underway and focused on adapting existing buildings for re-use, we remain confident that we are making a difference in shaping the future of the Australian built environment. We hope this year’s competitors, who are the industry’s next generation of change makers, draw inspiration from the challenge we have set and use innovation, their design knowledge and creativity to deliver cutting edge solutions to
support adaptable re-use of vacant building stocks in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The 2021 Challenge Cup interrogates the proposition of adaptive reuse in the built environment, addressing sustainability and resource scarcity, but also how offsite manufacturing and prefabrication can deliver effective extension and adaption of existing buildings. A phenomena that is gaining renewed focus in light of the current commercial property and hotel vacancies that are and a thematic follow-on from the 2020 competition.

Teams are asked to retain, incorporate and extend an existing structure into a mixed-use development comprising space, student accommodation, using offsite construction and solutions.