​From March–June 2020 Five Mile Radius conducted a subject in The University of Queensland’s School of Architecture entitled ‘Materials Matter’. Twenty-two students took part in the subject.

The students were asked to complete three tasks over the course of the semester, each aimed at uncovering information on the supply chains, health credentials and environmental sustainability of various construction materials. Our goal was to provide the students with an informed framework to guide their future materials choices and to provide important opportunities for industry engagement and collaboration.

Students were encouraged to see themselves as agents of positive change and to create content useful to their profession. The information below is intended to be helpful to any designers wishing to make informed material choices. 

Please remember the content is the result of work by students from a broad range of backgrounds. We have not altered the content in any way. There may be the odd typo or bit of misinformation, however there is also a lot that is important and of interest.


To begin, students created quick two-page fact sheets on a building material of their choice. The factsheets each covered raw material extraction, manufacturing processes and interesting environmental stories. Download PDF 

In groups of three, students then traced the building materials used in seven prominent Brisbane buildings constructed within the last 10 years. Houses, hotels, schools and commercial towers all featured.

Download Overviews


Relevant architectural practices generously provided detailed facade drawings and schedules to the students, who then chose nine materials from each facade to examine. They attempted to trace the materials firstly to their local suppliers, and from there to the manufacturing point, and eventually back to the origin of the raw materials themselves. 

While supply chain transparency is increasingly important to the food and fashion industries, it is less so in the construction industry. The task required students to form relationships with local suppliers, learn to ask difficult questions and attempt to convey the importance of sustainable supply chains. 

Download Maps


For their final piece of assessment each student focused on one material issue of their choosing. The students created detailed research reports and then summarised their findings into the material handouts included below. 

The handouts are intended to break down complex issues so they can be easily understood by construction professionals and the public alike. To facilitate their topics, students mostly chose to look at solutions relevant to South East Queensland, however the findings can certainly be applied more broadly.

Download Handouts