The face of our local sustainable future
By Katie Johnson
When Robbie Nevs founded Revival Projects four-and-a-half years ago, the construction industry in Melbourne was as wasteful as could be.
“The sheer amount of waste in the industry was heart-breaking and still is,” Mr Nevs said.
With no legal framework to put pressure to developers and architects to repurpose materials from demolished buildings, the materials often end up being burnt or going straight to landfill.
Based at 195 Ferrars St in the Montague Precinct, Mr Nevs said Revival was born out of a need to make it easier for people to implement sustainable building practices.
“All of Melbourne was built from timber from Canada and America as it was cheaper than harvesting here, up until about 40 years ago,” Mr Nevs said.
“We have an abundance of quality, sustainable materials which are ending up in the hands of commercially-driven demolition crews instead of being salvaged so we’re working to change that.”
As licensed structural engineers and builders, Revival focuses on constructing furniture and buildings using 100 per cent recycled material.
Often this involves repurposing materials from the demolished building straight back into the new development.
Some of Revival’s biggest projects have involved salvaging timber beams from the original Port Melbourne wharf structure to turn them into CBD office fit-outs, and using materials from the 100-year-old boot-factory St. Crispin House to build new flagship boot stores.
Currently the business is working on a project for Industry Beans in Fitzroy, a café which was being demolished and moving to another location on the same street.
Mr Nevs said that as the original design wasn’t geared towards sustainability, Revival worked with the architects to make sure the execution was environmentally friendly.
“As structural engineers and furniture makers we demonstrate our approach with the execution rather than the design,” Mr Nevs said.
“The entire construction and build process is done off solar power, all the labourers are getting to work using e-bikes, and all of the furniture is made using timber we salvaged from the recycling plant down the road.”
Mr Nevs also said the team would soon be working on a new business popping up in South Melbourne.
“We’re working on building a new whisky store and bar on Coventry St, using materials sources exclusively from the owner’s other business Casa De Vinos which is being demolished less than 500 metres way,” Mr Nevs said.
“There’s an amazing amount of timber which we’ll be salvaging.”
REVIVAL’s temporary workshop has been in South Melbourne since September, but as part of their commitment to “leaving no footprint” it will move once the lease is up.
In order to make the industry more accessible to everyone, Revival runs zero-footprint workshops for women interested in sustainable furniture making.
“We try and make it a safe and fun environment to introduce people who are under-represented in construction to the industry,” Mr Nevs said.
“We want to keep that community engagement so the next classes we’re planning will be for teenagers.”
Mr Nevs said that as development began to pick up again post-COVID, Revival was getting more work than ever.
“The community is really gearing towards taking a more sustainable approach to building,” Mr Nevs said.
“We’re flat out with new projects all the time.” •
For more information: revivalprojects.com.au