Founded in 2016, Five Mile Radius combines architecture and design to reimagine a smarter, more sustainable Australian construction industry. With an unshakeable focus on locally sourced materials, founding director Clare Kennedy believes thoughtful development has the power to nurture our relationship with the environment.
Words by Hudson Brown
Brisbane-based design studio Five Mile Radius was born out of the idea that construction should help people live in harmony with their environment rather than block it out. Established in 2016 with the motto “Build With What You’ve Got”, this dynamic group of architects, tradespeople and educators had the lofty goal of eliminating waste on Australia’s construction sites by transforming it into striking household objects. Now five years later, Five Mile Radius is seen as a leader in closed-loop thinking, waste reuse and bioclimatic design.
“Our process begins with the materials needed for a project – we look for locally sourced, viable alternatives that make sense in the context and climate. And we always look for ways to engage with nature,” explains founding director Clare Kennedy.
These principles have led Five Mile Radius to design and build using breathable organic materials, natural ventilation and low-tech solar solutions. Across eco-conscious housing projects, public pavilions and speckled terrazzo tables made from demolition waste, the collective adopts an open mind whenever it embarks on a new project.
“We look for locally sourced, viable alternatives that make sense in the context and climate.”
“The studio was founded as a gang of young architects holding events and forums on material issues we felt were important,” says Kennedy. “At present, we are doing a renovation where we’ve removed the walls and windows of a conventional 1950s house to create operable openings that connect the structure to the surrounding garden,” says Kennedy.
This innovative way of thinking can be partly attributed to Five Mile Radius’ highly collaborative nature. With big aspirations to reshape what society views as suitable building materials, the team’s varied expertise ensures they challenge each other’s perspective on a new project. By turning theoretical ideas into real-world ones, the studio showcases how much of Australia’s low-quality building materials can be replaced with long-lasting and sustainable products.
“We always want to remain really open and accessible. It’s just about finding the best format for everyone to contribute,” says Kennedy. “We’re also trying to debunk the traditional architecture practice structure by having product design and building trades under the same roof.”
As Five Mile Radius puts its ideas into practice through several upcoming developments and exhibitions, the studio also plans to add more recycled material products to its shop alongside its popular lineup of waste concrete tabletops. Meanwhile, the collective will keep up its strong focus on education to ensure more people understand how everyday regenerative materials often have untold building potential.
“We do lots of work with universities, hold public workshops, crowdfund educational programs and occasionally get a bit vocal on social media,” describes Kennedy. “How can living be more like camping? That’s our dream.”