ReArt exhibition celebrates the art of upcycling

From unexpected landscapes created from vintage linoleum and statement lighting fashioned from repurposed milk cartons, to haute couture created from discarded magazines, the ReArt exhibition features the work of local and international artists and designers who are exploring the creative possibilities of upcycling.

The artworks, each containing at least 70% secondhand or waste materials, will be
showcased at the inaugural ReArt exhibition at the M 2 Gallery in Sydney’s Surry Hills, which opened to the public on 22 April, the 45th anniversary Earth Day.

The exhibition has been curated by Retrash author Nathan Devine, and supported by Etsy, the online marketplace for vintage and handmade goods, to celebrate the art of upcycling and aims to inspire the world to reconsider the idea of waste.

Retrash author Nathan Devine said: “I have worked with hundreds of upcyclers over the years and I never cease to be amazed at the beautiful and innovative products and art that people create. ReArt is set to be an exciting and inspirational exhibition and we look forward to creating a platform moving forward to inspire the world to rethink waste.”

Visitors will be able to find out more about Retrash and the upcycling art movement on
Saturday 25 April from 2pm to 4pm when author Nathan Devine will be signing copies of his book. The winner of the People’s Choice Award will also be announced on Saturday 25 April. The ReArt exhibition will run from 22 to 26 April 2015.

Visit the ReArt website for more information about the exhibition.

Read more about the “Once Upon A Queenslander” Armchair (pictured above), designed and constructed by Furniture Master Craftsman, Will Marx. Inspired by a beloved Queensland icon, the Queenslander homesteads, the chair is made from old floorboards, ceiling beams and battens salvaged from old Queenslander houses that have outlived their original usage as a home and shelter.

8.2 Star home ready at Cape Eco Village

The development at Cape Paterson, around an hour from Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs, will see 219 homes built at a minimum 7.5 Star rating with onsite solar energy, rainwater and stormwater use. The Cape Eco Village is designed to operate without the use of fossil fuels and to export an annual surplus of clean energy to the electricity grid.

This home has been built and fully fitted out by Wonthaggi builder TS Constructions. To encourage the uptake of climate ready housing The Cape project team commissioned 10 additional home designs, prepared and costed by architects and builders. These concepts are downloadable from the project website and have been downloaded over 25,000 times in the past 12 months.

The demonstration home is a four bedroom, two bathroom, 196 square meter double story dwelling that reached the 8.2 Star rating with a range of sustainability features. The home features 5 kilowatts of solar energy, insulation, thermal mass, double glazing, strategic shading, electric vehicle charge points, clean energy for heating, cooling, cooking, lighting, 10,000 litres of rainwater storage, raised water efficient food gardens, efficient white goods and is designed to operate without the use of fossil fuels.

The 5.0kW solar photovoltaic system has been installed with solar panels supplied by Trina, inverter by Sunnyboy and Digital Energy Monitor to show energy generation and use. A Sanden hot water heat pump system has been installed which reduces up to 78% of hot water energy needs compared with a traditional system.

The home has been fully insulated with external walls having R2.5 insulation, ceilings under the roofline are insulated to R5.0 and between floor insulation of R3.0. All insulation is earthwool batts.

All windows and aluminium doors are double glazed aluminium units with low-e glazing, and all window and door openings have a 20mm compressible bead applied between the building frame and the unit, minimising any air leakage.

Fixed pitch, aluminium blade window shades, designed and manufactured by Sunex, have been installed on selected first floor windows to reduce thermal heat gain in summer while allowing for thermal penetration in winter. A timber pergola has been built on the lower level to achieve the same result.

The flat roof, parapet wall design does not allow for eaves, however the developers say the louvre shades and pergola achieve a better result on the northern elevation, whilst the west elevation has no windows.

The home includes extra thermal mass via rammed earth blockwork walls using locally-sourced gravel pressed on site.

Every garage is fitted with a dedicated 15amp charge point in the garage. This point suits most common brands of EV vehicles including Nissan and Mitsubishi.

For details on how to the demonstration home go to

From garage to laneway dwelling

Local design blog Assemble Papers has profiled Murray’s garage conversion as part of their Backyard Bungalow series on small footprint living.

The 18sqm garage conversion takes full advantage of a bright north-facing outlook, created using timbers salvaged from a demolition site. But the airy bungalow started from humble beginnings.

After five years of European apartment living, Murray moved in behind an inner-North terrace “excited by the sensory experience of the place – in the backyard, under the bottle brush”.

“It was also the cheap option, out the back, right on the rear lane. The bathroom, kitchen and living areas are located in the main house, but the old garage was the perfect size for a bedroom,” he said.

Without much money to spend on the build, Murray began piecing together found materials in order to insulate and seal the corrugated iron shed.

The statement recycled plywood walls were found cheaply online but were originally destined to be lining the walls of Mitsubishi caravans across Australia.

Inspired by row houses in Vietnam, a wall of solid black timber opens directly onto a sunny back lane way, allowing Murray to “mediate that public edge within the limited space and with limited means”.

“I clad the panels in timber and translucent polycarbonate, which lets in light but obscures the view. You can open up the space for a party or on a sunny day, or close it off to gain complete enclosure.”

The tiny retreat was crafted from its inception on the basis of sustainability and frugal resource use. The environmental footprint will continue to be slight, regardless of what the flexible space may become in the future.

Murray ultimately sees the potential for more of these types of dwellings as “densities increase and demographics fluctuate in the city” creating a lack of functional space.

“This was a bit of a backyard job, purely done to squeeze a bit more habitable space out of what was there already,” he said. “The way a small house can maintain private space but still connect to the outdoors and the street is really worth exploring.”

Read more about the garage conversion in Assemble Papers, an online publication exploring small footprint living across art, design, architecture, urbanism, the environment & finance. Visit

Home renovators and the media survey

Are you currently renovating? Or maybe you’ve recently finished a home renovation project?

If so, Swinburne University researchers would really like to hear your views.

The survey is part of the CRC LCL project conducted by Swinburne University that investigates home renovation processes, focusing on the role that mainstream and social media play in shaping these practices. Entitled ‘Media and Communication Strategies to Achieve Carbon Reduction Through Renovation of Australia’s Existing Housing’, the project partners with key industry and government organisations including Sustainability Victoria, BlueScope Steel, CSR, Master Builders Association (VIC), the Housing Industry Association, SA Department of State Development, Victorian Building Authority.

The research explores media and popular practices of home renovations to better understand how people are actually going about their renovations, what mix of media they are using to get ideas, source practical advice, engage a practitioner or communicate with others in the process. This will help us develop innovative media and communication strategies to assist renovators in making more energy efficient and cost-effective choices.

This survey is the first element of the project and focuses on how people use media to find inspiration and information for their home renovations.

Follow this link for further details and the survey:

Come to Melbourne Electric Vehicle Expo

The Melbourne Electric Vehicle Expo, Australia’s premier electric vehicle event, is back in 2015 and will be held at Swinburne University on April 19.

See the latest electric cars and bikes, test ride bikes and cars, hear talks from experts, see cars that have been converted to electric and displays of charging infrastructure.

There will be a huge variety of electric vehicles on display, as well as solar cars, electric racing cars, scooters, motor bikes and more. Entry is free!

The Melbourne Electric Vehicle Expo is organised by the Alternative Technology Association’s Melbourne EV Branch. The principal sponsor is the RACV.

When: Sunday, April 19
Time: 10am-4pm
Where: The Atrium at Swinburne University, Burwood Road, Hawthorn
Cost: Free!

Expert sustainability speakers discuss solar and design this weekend

Sanctuary has 20 tickets to the event to giveaway. Tickets need to be collected at the ATA office (level 1, 39 Little Collins St, Melbourne) on Friday between 10am and 4pm. Email to reserve your free ticket.

Andrew Reddaway, Solar at Home: what to look at when buying solar PV

Thursday at 11am

Andrew Reddaway is a solar expert at the ATA with experience in advising households about how to select the optimal system for their needs or optimising their current system performance. Andrew designed and developed the ATA’s Sunulator program and has hand-on experience designing and installing small off-grid solar solutions.

Andy Marlow, Great Design: Visions in Reality

Friday and Saturday at 11am

Great design makes people happier but what it is and how do I get it?

The talk will demonstrate how to ensure you achieve what you want through a clear understanding of the design process, the steps involved and the principles that underpin great design. Understand the trade offs you are likely to face and the implications of the choices you make, both the long and short term, and how design can improve all situations.

Andy is Associate Director at Envirotecture, a Sydney based design practice focusing exclusively on ecologically sustainable and culturally appropriate buildings. He is an experienced designer having worked on residential and commercial projects of all shapes and sizes and is highly motivated and passionate about the potential of design to improve the quality of people’s lives.

Richard Keech, Solar at Home: What to look at when buying solar PV

5pm Friday

Richard is an experienced engineer who works as an energy consultant and has industry experience with renewable energy and energy efficiency. He was a lead author of BZE’s Buildings Plan and is a regular contributor to ATA’s ReNew magazine on matters related to sustainable building technology. Richard lives in Melbourne with his family in their zero-carbon home.

John Knox, Making your home more energy efficient to save you money

Sunday 11am

John joined ATA as a Technical Specialist in 2008. He has presented talks to many audiences and offers advice to members on energy efficiency and technology for a sustainable future. Passionate about sustainability, in 2010 he rode around Australia on his bicycle educating people about home energy efficiency and climate change.

View the full Sustainable Space program at the HIA Homeshow website.

Living with indoor plants

In Australia, 80 per cent of us live in urban areas, spending up to 90 per cent of our time indoors. As a result, many of us are looking for ways to bring the outdoors in.

As a design tool, plants are a multipurpose, adaptable and easily retrofittable element for the home or office. Plantscaping can be used not only for sculptural and aesthetic effect but to screen, buffer noise, filter light, purify the air and provide ambience. Recent studies also show that their place in indoor environments can have multiple benefits for our health and wellbeing.

Our survival is inextricably linked with that of the world’s trees; ‘the lungs of our planet’ capture energy from the sun’s rays and absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to produce their own chemical energy, conveniently releasing the waste product of oxygen. It’s no surprise then that photosynthesizing indoor plants are good for air quality.

But perhaps the most remarkable aspect of indoor plants is their capacity for air purification through phytoremediation. Plants can absorb and metabolise airborne contaminants such as particulate matter (fine dust), exhaust emissions and the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released from our furnishings, paints, adhesives, building materials, paper, textiles and plastics, found in high concentrations in well-sealed indoor environments. These contaminants mean most of our indoor environments are more polluted than the outdoors.

A University of Technology Sydney (UTS) study on plants and indoor air quality found that plants’ ability to remove VOCs works by a symbiotic relationship between soil and the plant; indoor contaminants are pulled into the root zone where soil microorganisms convert them into food. The researchers also found that pot size, species and light and dark did not affect the rate of removal. Carbon dioxide levels were found to be reduced by between 10 to 25 per cent and carbon monoxide by up to 90 per cent.

Lead researcher of the project and plant scientist at UTS, Dr Margaret Burchett, has no doubt that greening the ‘great indoors’ with living plants could play an important part in enabling the sustainable urban communities of the future. She says that increasing our green space indoors could improve energy efficiency through insulation and temperature control, reduce air pollution, raise spirits and work performance and improve concentration and attention span.

The study also found significant improvements in stress and negative feelings with the introduction of plant life (up to 50 and 58 per cent respectively when testing for anxiety, depression, fatigue and confusion.) “They are also a great way to bring more nature to plant-scarce cities without taking up too much space.”