Five Mile Radius is a Brisbane based architectural studio centered on the use of locally sourced building materials in construction.
The studio formed in 2016 using a number of buildings and commissioned exhibitions to examine different Australian resources and materials. Alongside their built work, the studio experiments with forms of public engagement, looking for new ways to share their findings with a broader audience. Their work has been awarded, exhibited and published both nationally and internationally.
Responding to the growing need to move away from globalised supply chains to more self sufficient models, Five Mile Radius is working on a future where Australians can build using ethical resources from their own shores.
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Our team spent years designing in commercial architectural offices before forming Five Mile Radius. As young designers, the limitless mass of materials at our fingertips felt overwhelming. Italian marble laminate from China, timber veneers from PNG. It’s was hard to know why to use what or where it was coming from.
It took travels to India where watching locals make mud bricks using their own soil, we were struck by a blindingly simple alternative to globalised material supply chains. There, people were simply built with what they had.
The mud was dug from site then worked with local hands and feet to form bricks. The mixture contained tea made from a local neem tree to keep termites out, and local grasses for added strength. The bricks were then dried in the sun and laid in the wall above a course of local stone. Earthen plasters protected the walls from the elements. Some of the walls we saw were over 300 years old. They were recyclable, healthy, cheap and deeply connected to their place and its people. The simple mudbrick seemed more valuable than any imported construction material could ever be.
To them it was a matter of necessity and common sense. To us it was revolutionary. Great Indian thinker Mahatma Gandhi knew the value of this approach. Worried by both unsustainable materials sourcing and cultural homogenization across India he urged the people to try and build their homes using materials from within a five mile radius of their site.