Developer Celestino has partnered with CSIRO to launch a new research hub in Penrith aimed at developing and testing ways to make urban spaces and cities more liveable and sustainable.

Located at Celestino’s 280-hectare Sydney Science Park, the Urban Living Lab will bring together researchers, industry, government and communities to research, design and test urban development concepts both in the lab and within the setting of the wider mixed-use estate.

Issues on the research agenda include the relationships between urban greening, energy efficiency, demand for water, community wellbeing and health, and the impacts of technological advancements.

Celestino chief executive John Vassallo said he was thrilled to be partnering with CSIRO.

“We could see people creating new ways to harness solar energy in the workplace and developing novel ideas to store heat and keep homes cool,” Mr Vassallo said.

“New sustainable transport solutions will also be encouraged as well as inventions that conserve water and energy and drive down utility bills. The possibilities are endless.”

He said new urban technologies needed to be tested in a real urban environment, and that the science park was the “perfect” testing ground.

The lab will also connect inventors to mentors, scientific expertise and venture capital.

“We don’t just want inventions, we want new prototypes commercialised and rolled out to the market,” he said.

CSIRO Land and Water acting director Paul Bertsch said collaborative science initiatives like the Urban Living Lab would enable cities to move towards a more sustainable future.

“By working with government and industry, our research will enable Australia’s cities to become more economically, environmentally and socially resilient,” Mr Bertsch said.

The Sydney Science Park masterplan, developed with Urbis and FJMT Architects, gained the necessary rezoning approval from Penrith City Council and the NSW State Government in December 2016.

The $2 billion-plus development plans aim to deliver 3400 new dwellings, commercial and retail space, a new K-12 STEM school, over 80 hectares of public space, research and laboratory facilities and space for incubators and tech start-ups.

Food security, energy and health are proposed as key sectors it aims to attract.

Plans have already been drawn up for a major commercial building by FJMT that will house Celestino’s parent company Baiada Group’s own research laboratory.

An agreement has also been signed with Israeli startup accelerator PresenTense, an incubator for entrepreneurs, local economies, and research and development that meets the needs of people with disabilities. The developer will be collaborating with the firm’s international network.

On completion, it is hoped the park will provide around 12,000 knowledge based jobs.

The park is not the developer’s only iron in the Sydney property fire wither It holds a vacant commercial site at George Street in Parramatta and a currently leased commercial property site at Pyrmont in the Bays Precinct.

Another commercial mixed-use development is planned for a site it owns in Terrigal on the NSW Central Coast.

In addition, it has greenfield residential estates under development in Jimboomba and Townsville in Queensland, Glossodia on the NSW Central Coast and Box Hill in outer western Sydney.

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