Design Thinking – Cleantech Construction!

June 14, 2009

I remember as though it was yesterday.

The day I met the Luu brothers – Neil and Nathan. Two young Aussie/Vietnamese Design Thinking Mavericks!

Pegasus: Concrete Innovation - New Urban Living!

Pegasus: Concrete Innovation - New Urban Living!

I was following a hunch, desperate to see some real innovation in housing design as the words from a 1959 Newspaper Interview with Dick Dusseldorp (founder of Lend Lease) kept me awake at night – it was driving me nuts!

“When I was a boy a family motor car cost three times the value of an ordinary suburban home, now a suburban home costs three times as much as a motor car. Now that shows the progress that industrialisation has brought to the production of motor vehicles. In the building trade, on the other hand, there has been very little progress…since Noah built the ark!”

Ok so lets fast forward almost 50 years. Call it serendipity but I had just driven past one of Qld’s first designed precast concrete homes and after considerable effort had finally tracked  down its creators.

We met over a coffee. (In typical Innovation Cafe style) Both ex QUT. Nathan (marketing) the talker, Neil (construction/design/engineer) the thinker. We hit it off immediately as I sat listening to their story.

A story about a family fleeing an oppressive regime. A story about starting over again and building an exciting future in a new land. A story of hard work, hope, success, achievement. And a story of innovation.

The brothers Luu – innovation journey began because of there love of flashy cars and despite being told they couldn’t, just went out an created a one-stop shop customising, styling, shaping fiberglass moldings and spray painting vehicle creations that were designed to turn heads! It didn’t matter that neither had formal skills they just adapted and learnt by experimenting, trial and error to create an award winning business.

Next came a bigger challenge. Concrete housing. Modular grid construction to be precise. Faster, More affordable, Better! Yet again they battled an oppressive regulatory regime – relentless in trying to stop them from doing something different!. But that didn’t deter the boys!. They’ve created Pegasus and now three years later since our first coffee together – amazing things are happening.

In tough times Innovation flourishes. People are beginning to listen. To unlearn learned beliefs. Think: the DTP (Desktop Publishing) revolution, the brothers Luu (in stealth mode) together with other industry zealots are hard at work developing a radical online modular Desktop Construction (DTC) business that will change the housing construction nightmare forever! A new ‘killer app‘ that will annihilate the outdated and existing dysfunctional residential construction industry.

Viva la Web 2.0 Revolution!

Just imagine – you go online,  thanks to Google earth and maps, view and find land for sale, zoom in on the lot, place your 3D rendered model on it. You can even look out the windows or sit on the balcony admiring your virtual reality views. Then when you’re done and happy – just press PRINT. Automated purchase, plans approved, and out pops your home like some giant modular lego construction. Complete turnkey construction but without the allen key

Neil and Nathan aren’t just Design Thinkers in the words of Bernd H Schmitt, they’re  Big Thinky Heads!

Footnote: Cleantech Construction:  Built to last – bushfire and termite resilient, Recycled concrete, titanium dioxide (smog eating cement), PV Cells, Energy Water & Waste innovation, even a Green Roof garden!


Here’s To The Crazy Ones!

May 29, 2009

Meet Phil Little A Futurist. A Mentor. A Friend.

Phil Little - A Sustainability Zealot!

Phil Little

In the spirit of my favorite ad of all time Think Different, Phil’s one of the crazy ones! A trouble maker. A rebel. A round peg in a square hole. Someone who sees things differently and someone who’s out to change the world!.

But whilst some see Phil perhaps as a crazy one some of us see genius, for the people who think they are crazy enough to change the world…are often the ones who do!

Actually Phil’s a Sustainability Zealot – been around for a while; 74 years to be exact. So whenever a grey haired revolutionist like Phil talks, I listen. Especially when it comes to things that really interest me like, Sustainable Innovation – or why the hell do we persist with the same draconian dysfunctional approach to residential housing construction?.

Phil’s taught me many things since our first meeting a few years ago now…

“Heh Tony, now your a smart chap so what do you know about UN Agenda 21? Or have you ever watched – Who Killed The Electric Car‘? or downloaded Annie Leonard’sThe Story of Stuff”

Buggar me, I didn’t have a clue. So I hired the movie, downloaded the video and read the UN report. (Follow the links)

But wait there’s more!

Heh Tony how much do you know about the Solar Decathlon?

The Solar what? The Solar Decathlon.

The World’s leading showcase of Solar Housing & Sustainable Innovation – Off-grid living (Energy, Water Waste) —a competition in which 20 teams of college and university students from around the world compete to design, build, and operate the most attractive, effective, and energy-efficient solar-powered house.

Australia has never sent a team. Not in 2007 nor in 2005 or 2002 and we’re not competing in this years challenge either. (Oct 09)

Further, it appears; No one from our three tiers of Government have even attended. No one from our Universities, or our Education Institutions. No one from our giant Energy, Water and Waste Utilities. And, No one from big Business.

But Phil Little has. Paid for himself to go. To watch, to learn, to meet other innovation leaders and to bring back new sustainable opportunities and knowledge, to help push Australia forward!

Since his return in 2007, Phil’s has been knocking on every damm government, university and industry door. But the answer is always the same...nothing!. curiosity yes. But let’s leave it to someone else, like Phil to make it all happen. Make it all happen?

Heh, remember when we won the America’s Cup! How proud our nation was. The drama, the intrigue. We were united around a competitive event – glued to our TV sets. But Phil’s no Bondy and the Solar Decathlon is different, it requires a collaborative effort from the media, Industry, Business, Government and Education – to get behind the youth of Australia and showcase Aussie innovation, ingenuity and our answers to a sustainable problems. The nation aligned and focussed around a real cause that spawns breathtaking opportunities and deliverable outcomes for education, training and the sustainable housing marketplace.

So I urge all the Captains of Industry and the leaders of our nation; Kevin Rudd, Peter Garrett, Penny Wong, Tanya Plibersek, Anna Bligh, Katie Jones…and anyone else that can assist to really get behind Phil Little’s quest.

I can hear the chant now….OZe OZe, OZe – Oi Oi Oi