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About Materials Matter

​From March - June 2020 Five Mile Radius conducted a subject in The University of Queensland’s School of Architecture entitled ‘Materials Matter’.  It was an elective subject offered as part of the Masters of Architecture degree. 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 a helpful to any designers wishing to make informed material choices. 

This is student work  

Please remember the content below 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. 

Any questions? 

Please contact us with your thoughts, questions or concerns regarding any of the content below.

We intend to continue to fine tune and build upon this research over the coming years. 



 /// Pt 1 Materials



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 & interesting environmental stories.


PDF Downloads 

All overviews combined​

 /// Pt 2 

Supply Chain Maps


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


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

PDF Downloads 

  • m3architecture - Suncoast Christian Collage (coming soon)

  • BVN - 480 Queen St (coming soon)

  • John Wardle Architects - Aurizon Tower (coming soon)

Pt 3 




For their final piece of assessment each student focused on one materials 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 more 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.

PDF Downloads 





Our thanks to the twenty-two students who worked together enthusiastically (often virtually) to share information and build their research. We hope you enjoyed the semester. 

Thanks to the generous architectural practices that agreed to take part in the mapping study -  Neilson Jenkins, Tim Bennetton Architects with Gabriel and Elizabeth Poole, Bligh Graham Architects, Richards and Spence, m3architecture, BVN and John Wardle Architects. 

Thanks to the University of Queensland for their support of this important topic and agenda. 

And lastly thanks to the material suppliers who cooperated with our students. The students learnt so much from this active engagement with real world supply chains.