For HIP V. HYPE founding partner Liam Wallis there’s no such thing as moving on from a project. The idea of set and forget is anathema to this developer and his team is constantly reassessing past projects to continually improve and inform the business as it moves forward.
But Wallis doesn’t just talk about it, he also lives it.
He, his partner and two children have chosen to live in the company’s past two housing projects.
Its latest project, Ferrars and York, a 22 unit carbon-neutral apartment block in hip South Melbourne will expose more people to the developer’s philosophy, with a new HV hotel concept where a two-bedroom apartment in the building will be available for short stays.
“I think a lot of developers seek to keep people as far away as possible from previous projects but we want to invite you in and we want you to experience what we do and how we do it and we think that’s a really important part of what we have to offer,” Wallis says.
But it’s not just past projects that Wallis turns to. The business’s unique structure also feeds future success.
There are three interconnecting parts to the company a decision Wallis describes as a “strategic” approach, each supporting the other towards constant, dynamic improvement.
First up there is a development division that aims to build best practice, boutique scale, market-leading projects.
“That’s about taking risks with our own money and demonstrating outcomes and proof of concept to the market that you can deliver best practice sustainability that consumers want,” Wallis says.
Second is the sustainability consultancy, which has its own dual structure of Better Cities, Better Regions and Better Business.
The third part is a collective workshare offering, designed to create spaces for creatively minded businesses – HIP V. HYPE included. The concept is focused on sustainability, connecting businesses with shared aims and creating collaborations to amplify impact.
Wallis says the Ferrars and York building is a good example of how the divisions sustain each other.
“Feedback loops exist in the different stages of procurement of a building project,” he says.
“For example, at Ferrars and York, our Better Buildings team of sustainable engineers are undertaking post-occupancy research at the site.”
Wallis says the analysis feeds back into the design phase of future projects and sharing those learnings with the market via the advisory business is a model that is geared towards achieving high-performance outcomes.
“We want to know how the building we developed operates in order for us to build better buildings ourselves and for the advice we provide to our external clients to be based in the reality of delivery.
“We don’t want to just be the sustainability consultants in the room that put our hand up and say, ‘here’s a really great idea, you should do this,’ we want to be sustainability consultants who put our hand up and say ‘hey, here’s a really good idea, here’s how we’ve deployed this initiative previously, here’s a contact to the supplier, here’s a contact to the engineer who knows how to design the system,’ and we feel that approach is much more likely to see the successful adoption of market-leading technology sooner.”
Ferrars and York has an energy rating of 8.6 on average, is 100 per cent electric, uses between 40-50 per cent less energy than a minimum-compliance apartment building and is carbon neutral.
And the HV hotel concept also supports the developer’s philosophy of sharing its learnings.
“The way I look at it, if we sell 22 apartments, that’s only 22 people who get to experience it, whereas if we open it up and offer it out to the market then for 365 nights per year, we have the potential to have 365 people to experience what ‘better’ looks and feels like,” Wallis says.
“It also enables our clients in our advisory business to in turn to invite their clients to stay in the building and demonstrate to them the benefits of a more sustainable approach to building.”
But it’s not just the experts keeping the company informed. There was a three-month post-occupancy survey of the residents that raised a few issues.
“It’s the kind of feedback you don’t think of as a professional because you focus on the
things you know and in the incidental discussions with people, they’ll let you know if something’s not working pretty quickly,” Wallis says.
“Of course, we are focused on the data-based analysis and the pos-occupancy survey, but it’s also just the small things.
“For example, there were some storage related-questions, ‘why was storage configured in a particular way and did you think about providing access and through a different pathway’, and that’s a really good suggestion.”
Wallis was inspired to enter the industry through his father’s work as a project manager, particularly his work on one of Melbourne’s most iconic developments, Melbourne Central.
“It really captured, my imagination,” Wallis says.
Wallis pinpoints the School Strike for Climate in 2019 as a tipping point for the wider industry
“It was a really innovative design for its time and the Japanese department store Daimaru exposed me to culture and I ended up going to Japan on exchange for a year in high school.
“The Japanese are defined by this idea that if you do something, you do it right and that really has rubbed off on me pretty substantially throughout my career.”
While sustainability has been a long-term career choice for Wallis, he pinpoints the School Strike for Climate in 2019 as a tipping point for the wider industry.
“I think it was the single biggest event that’s resulted in widespread, broad based change,” Wallis says.
“Our business has been around for just under eight years and that’s a single point in time that I noticed a significant change in people’s approach to the benefits of sustainability.
“I think it woke quite a few people up in corporate land – decision-makers at the upper end of town who saw their grandkids out in the streets – and I think it caused quite a few people at those levels of society to question their motives and their legacy.”
The developer’s next project will be another 22 apartment building in Northcote and it will target an 8+ star average NatHERS rating, embodying best practice in environmentally sustainable design.
The company’s sustainability team is advising on projects across Australia’s eastern seaboard.
The Better Buildings team is working with Gamuda Land, Riverlee, Jackson Clements Burrows Architects and Fieldwork Architects to name a few on sustainable design, strategy and implementation.
The Better Cities and Regions team is working on climate risk assessments for local councils across their operations, strategies and services, climate resilient precinct planning across residential, commercial, industrial and mixed-use precincts, together with ecological and sustainable tourism projects.
And as for that funky company name, HIP V. HYPE is a play on words describing the necessary balance between truth and fiction required to be effective: HYPE – Don’t believe it. HIP – can’t be faked.