A redundant Victorian primary school in a hilltop heritage area in Melbourne is being transformed into Australia’s first One Planet Living Community. It has already won awards and attracts a stream of visitors.
Recycling a heritage building
WestWyck EcoVillage consists of 30 homes, both town houses and apartments, built within and around the old Brunswick West Primary School. It became Australia’s first endorsed One Planet Community in May 2013 with a One Planet Living action plan agreed between the scheme’s developers, WestWyck Pty Ltd, and Bioregional. In total, 12 of these apartments are located in the old school building which has an official heritage designation.
The One Planet Action Plan applies to Phase Two of the development now under construction, which will provide 18 new apartments, all of which have been sold off plan. Phase One, with 12 homes, was completed in 2008.
One Planet features will include solar photo-voltaic panels with a peak output of 18 kilowatts, high levels of building insulation to reduce energy consumption, rainwater harvesting and grey-water recycling. The plan places a strong emphasis on sustainable lifestyles including low-carbon transport, imported electricity coming from renewable sources, waste minimisation, maximum recycling and growing food on the development.
WestWyck also aims to encourage neighbourliness, with communal facilities such as a bike shed, a clothes drying area and shared garden space; initiatives that have been highly successful in Phase One.
As a pioneering ecovillage WestWyck has a mission to influence people at all levels, from the local community to the state government.
About the developer and partners
The site was originally purchased by a group of local people who wanted the school to retain a viable existence within the community it had served for more than a century. In 1997 two members of this original partnership and long term WestWyck residents, Mike Hill and Lorna Pitt, bought out the shares of the other partners and became sole directors and shareholders of WestWyck Pty Ltd.