Melbourne Design Week Kicks Off at Last Inner-City Timber Mill

Revival Projects Zero Footprint Repurposing initiative is making waves across Victoria.

Mon 27 May 24


Australia’s last remaining inner-city timber mill is the star of Melbourne Design Week. Designers and artists are now salvaging demolition waste and building materials and turning them into high-value exhibits. 

The push to re-use the world’s most sustainable materials, the ones that already exist, coincides with Melbourne’s Design Week, which kicked off at Revival Projects Collingwood hub, a zero-footprint hub for designers.

Founded by Robbie Neville, the recipient of the 2022 Melbourne Design Week award, the hub showcased Revival Projects’ 100 Circles, which involves 100 timber urns made out of several large cypress macrocarpa (or Monterey cypress) trees from Box Hill Cemetery. 

According to Mr Neville, “The roots (of the trees) were literally sharing the soil with the departed, and so we saw it as a sacred resource. I describe it as a physical embodiment of the intersection between the dissolution of life and new life.” Adding that “the golden wattle tree is the first tree that grows after bushfires; it’s naturally resilient to ash.”

“Hopefully, the initiative provides a significant process that makes it a little bit easier to rationalise and make sense of the grief and emotions you go through when you lose someone or something you love.”

q1a7931 copy e1716526560737 1
Installation view of ‘100 Circles’ presented by Revival Projects on display from 23 May – 26 May at Warehouse 2 Revival Projects in Melbourne Design Week 2024. (Photo Credit: Tim Carrafa)

The Collingwood timber mill, initially slated for demolition later this year, has been pushed for 12 months by Revival Projects. The developer is now working with Revival Projects to reuse materials as part of the site’s redevelopment.

Accordingly, Revival Projects intends to “salvage every piece of timber and every brick” and is currently collaborating with Grimshaw Design Practice and ANPLUS Developers to explore the best methods and applications for repurposing these materials directly into the new development happening on this site.

Revival Projects Zero Footprint Repurposing initiative.

In addition to the Collingwood hub, Revival Projects is also working with several developers across Melbourne, including the Melbourne Arts Precinct, to invest in urban tree recovery and re-use demolition materials.

As Existing Materials Consultants, Revival Projects is at the forefront of the push to re-use and recycle materials and straddles the project “from feasibility through to occupied use, facilitating everything involved in utilising your existing materials in your new design development.”

Robbie Neville, who in 2022 secured the Melbourne Design Week award for the Collingwood hub. Footage courtesy of @mercedesbenzau.

This includes its Zero Footprint Repurposing initiative, described by Tony Ellwood AM, the director of the National Gallery of Victoria: “Zero footprint repurposing is a project of ambitious scale with global importance…The project offers a unique platform for the design and construction industry to make a sustainable impact, which is a real catalyst for positive change.”

The objective of the Zero Footprint Repurposing initiative, according to Revival Projects, “is to inspire change by facilitating a sustainable approach in two fundamental areas of the design and construction industry:

  1. Revolutionise the perceived value of existing materials in the context of the new design and
  2. To make repurposing and re-use foundational in our industry, we are working to increase cohesion between key stakeholders at the right juncture. The value of existing materials needs to be identified, and salvaging missions need to be prioritised before concept, demolition, timing, and budgets are all finalised.

It plans to achieve this by: “Reducing carbon, waste, deforestation, transport, and consumption.”

The Melbourne Design Week will run until June 2nd, 2024. Now in its 17th year, it is sponsored by Mercedes-Benz, which announced that it has extended its support for the Awards for another three years until 2027.

  • Visit Melbourne Design Week’s website for information about Melbourne Design Week, including the full program.


  • Jason Ross

    Jason Ross, publisher, is a 15-year professional in building and construction, connecting with more than 400 specifiers. A Gottstein Fellowship recipient, he is passionate about growing the market for wood-based information. Jason is Wood Central's in-house emcee and is available for corporate host and MC services.


Related Articles