Reframing design for a mass-market television audience

A few weeks ago I mentioned a new TV show about home design that has the potential to be a game-changer for the way residential architecture is discussed in Australia.

Host Josh Byrne and the renovate and rebuild teams

Host Josh Byrne and the renovate and rebuild teams

It’s called Renovate or Rebuild, and there is a pilot you can watch on YouTube.

It arose from a project by the CRC for Low Carbon Living and NSW Office of Environment & Heritage project (supported by social science and energy ratings from CSIRO). They engaged BlueTribe Co to come up with a way to popularise sustainability messaging, and Blue Tribe Co proposed a reality TV program, in conjunction with Fremantle Media.

BlueTribe Co MD James McGregor told me that even though architects were not visible in the pilot, they were working behind the scenes on both the renovate or rebuild scenarios.

“Both designs were done by a local architecture firm, Anderson Architecture. We have posted the floor plans on the website with their details.” James said.

“The original plan was to show the teams working with the architect to develop the designs, but we just didn’t have the minutes available in a 30 min segment,” he added. “This is part of the reason we will move to a 1 hour format (actually 46min for commercial tv) - feedback has been pretty consistent that people want more detail on key decisions, budget trade offs etc - exactly the reason we produced a pilot episode first!”

The pilot will be turned into a series for broadcast later this year. The difference between this and other shows is that it presents sustainability and architectural design messages in terms of comfort, health and efficiency.


It’s reframing how we talk about these important concepts in line with behavioural science evidence, which shows that: “67% of consumers are interested in purchasing homes that are energy efficient, but home-owners don’t know how to navigate all the options,” according to Dr Josh Byrne, the show’s host and CRCLCL researcher.

“Key findings from the CRCLCL’s social research show that sustainability needs to be communicated in a mainstream way for it to be effective,” Josh said. “Our goal with this pilot is to demystify the process of building or renovating an energy efficient home by communicating it in an engaging and entertaining format.”

The show explains how options like correct building orientation, access to natural light, cross ventilation, energy efficiency and solar power can help create a healthy, comfortable and affordable homes.

OEH Director of Sustainability Programs, Mick O'Flynn said: "This is an exciting opportunity to explore a new approach in our role as a catalyst for change. Renovate or Rebuild promotes positive energy homes which reduce energy bills and improve health and wellbeing. Collaborations between industry, academia and government like this project are key to achieving our objective of net zero emissions by 2050."

There is plenty of rich material behind this project for architects who want to engage with consumers about the benefits and value of design, and I’ll add some research findings to The Value Proposition shortly, or visit the CRCLCL.

Homeowners who are interested in appearing in series one can apply here:


I’m super-excited about the possibilities this program opens up, and applaud the key players for their out-of-the-box thinking on how to make sustainability a mass-market aspiration. Change is coming!

Is your architecture practice ready to be a part of it?