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Design Hunter Q+A with Tanya Ha

Habitusliving is proud to be supporting the Mullum Creek Development by featuring Design Hunters who echo the development’s values of sustainability and good design. We open the series with award-winning environmentalist and sustainable living advocate Tanya Ha.

Your name: Tanya Ha

What you do: I’m an environmental campaigner, sustainable living advocate, behaviour change researcher and consultant, TV presenter and author. I’m known for my work on TV shows like Catalyst and Eco House Challenge and my books, such as Greeniology 2020 and Green Stuff for Kids. In essence, I’m all about engaging people in living and working more sustainably, through things like mainstream media, workshops and popular books.

Your latest project: I’m juggling the development of a green living initiative for new mothers called ‘Mama Green’ and an idea for a TV show that looks at climate change and building design.

Who are three people that inspire/excite you:

     1)  my hubby and kids

     2)  Janine Benyus who is a great advocate for ‘Biomimicry’ – design inspired by nature.

     3)  Nehemiah, the Biblical character who led the rebuilding of Jerusalem. It takes a certain strength of character to rebuild something broken.

What is your favourite…

Car/bike/plane/boat model: Toyota Prius (though I’m also in love with my aunt’s vintage folding Peugeot bicycle)

Chair model: Arana by Jardan – it’s Good Environmental Choice Australia certified

Residential space: Westwyck – an old primary school recycled into an ecohousing development. Even the bathroom basins are old science lab sinks, re-enamelled to look sparkling new.

Commercial space: 60L Green Building, a pioneering green building project, and The Goods Shed North, which was the first heritage-listed building in Victoria to achieve a 5 star Green Star rating. Both are great examples of applying new design to old building stock.

Decorative product: Some satirical screen prints by Melbourne designer and artist Nicholas Mau, who also designed a couple of my books. Fly to the moon and Burn lots of Fuel remind me to have a sense of humour and keep it real!

Functional product: Indoor air cleaning and humidifying pot plants. (Most people think pot plants are decorative. I’d argue they’re functional!)

Handmade good: The bathrobe my husband made for me for Mother’s Day. My daughter embroidered the pocket.

Mass-produced good: Solar photovoltaic panels. And they’re only getting more interesting, with organic photovoltaics, building-integrated solar and even ‘spray-on’ solar.

Meal: Just add garlic

Restaurant: Joost Bakker’s Greenhouse in Perth

Drink: Coffee

Item in your studio: My bookcase and its contents

Piece of technology: My computer. I’m a Mac-phile. I can’t imagine life without it.

Historical figure: Martin Luther and Leonardo Da Vinci – the Reformation/Renaissance period is interesting.

Fictional character: Lisa Simpson – She’s got a big heart and a big brain; a Renaissance man (woman) for the modern era.

Vice: Coffee

Virtue: Compassion

What does ‘sustainability’ mean to you? People recognising their connection to the natural environment and living in balance with it.

What is your favourite aspect of the Mullum Creek development? The ideal development ­– be it a single new house or a whole precinct – is a perfect marriage of the right building design for the right site. The Mullum Creek site is really something special, with established vegetation and a wildlife corridor along the creek, so it needed an equally special planning and building approach that uses the site’s natural assets as an opportunity. I love the fact that the development preserves and celebrates the land’s natural features and beauty.

What type of community do you think Mullum Creek will attract? I think Mullum Creek will be a community of people who value both simplicity and sophistication, who want wellbeing and a sense of community, who appreciate good quality design, who want to foster a sense of adventure in their children and who value the simple things in life. It’s for people who want the best of both worlds: the culture and urban lifestyle of living within Melbourne’s metropolitan area and the connection to nature, greenery and wildlife of country living.

What does the term ‘Design Hunter’ mean to you? To me, ‘design’ is all about taking an intelligent approach to solving a problem or achieving a desired outcome, and ‘hunter’ or ‘hunting’ is all about determination and focus. Adding the two together, ‘Design Hunter’ means a determination to find practical, smart, attractive, functional ways to improve our lives and/or make the world a better place.

Mullum Creek Development

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