Vision for flood-proof future at heart of Living Lab collaboration

Published 22 November 2022
Black and white rendered drawing Riverbed perspective drawing by UTS Landscape Architecture student Alex Brawn

The Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation (NRRC) and Southern Cross University, in partnership with University of Technology Sydney (UTS), are collaborating on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to inform and shape the future of Northern Rivers communities following the February and March 2022 floods.

Rendered image of elevated housing
Lismore urban floodplain by UTS students Ruby Crane and Emma Farquhar

The MOU marks the launch of Living Lab Northern Rivers, a multi-disciplinary hub for research, community engagement, public conversations and education, focused on increasing the region’s resilience and building local capacity. NRRC Chief Executive, David Witherdin said the NRRC is coordinating a massive reconstruction task, currently the nation’s biggest.

“This is a long-term effort and a transformative program of work focused on providing a more sustainable outcome for all Northern Rivers communities to remain safe and better cope with natural disasters in the future.

“The Living Lab partnership will enable the NRRC and Southern Cross to facilitate the transformation of Lismore and the Northern Rivers region into resilient and thriving places to live, work, invest and visit.

“The MOU provides a genuine opportunity for community, business and industry to participate in and contribute to programs and initiatives which improve the future sustainability, productivity and resilience of communities in the Northern Rivers, NSW and across the country,” Mr Witherdin said.

Vice President (Engagement) at Southern Cross University Ben Roche said the Living Lab will partner with all levels of government, communities, industry and educational institutions to provide a testing ground for solutions to complex issues.

“Together we will establish a community shopfront presence in Lismore, with regular outreach across the region and opportunities for the community to share their ideas. There will also be information sessions on resilient building and design, exhibitions and community engagement.

“Open to community, the shopfront will support and encourage participation in the recovery, resilient rebuilding and adaption of the Northern Rivers region,” Mr Roche said.

Dean, UTS Faculty of Design Architecture and Building, Professor Elizabeth Mossop said the Living Lab would build on the group’s experience from Hurricane Katrina rebuilding, combined with other international and local expertise and community collaboration to support the recovery and resilient rebuilding of the Northern Rivers region.

The Living Lab will hold a launch event open to the public at its community shopfront at 11 Woodlark St, Lismore on 23 November at 5pm. There will be the first of a series of exhibitions showcasing innovative ideas for the rebuilding of Lismore. The Living Lab shopfront and exhibition is open from Tuesday to Thursday 1 – 4pm.

More about the Living Lab: https://www.scu.edu.au/engage/living-lab-northern-rivers/

Photo: UTS/Alex Brawn

Media contact: Media team, scumedia@scu.edu.au