24 November 2021

A Coffee with Valentine of OneMileGrid

A Coffee with Valentine of OneMileGrid
With our upcoming Louise Melbourne project well and truly powering through the design phase, we caught up with our favourite Traffic & Waste Engineer – Valentine at OneMileGrid.  In the interview below we delve into both these key fields in a lot more detail; Talking through how a well-designed solution in both areas can be incredibly beneficial for not just the environment, but the residents of the building itself.

Firstly, tell us a little about OMG - when did you establish the company and what’s your journey been like to now?

We started the business, what feels like a lifetime ago in 2014, so that puts us at 7 years old. Contrary to popular beliefs about our name, we actually didn’t realise onemilegrid’s anonym was OMG until we were well and truly up and running!  It has been great for marketing I have to say!

The journey so far has been incredible from pretty humble begins with just the 4 of us, quickly moving to where we are now with 21 staff! We have a great mix of experience and young enthusiasm providing traffic engineering and waste management consulting services for a variety of projects from mum and dad’s building a few units on their family block through to developers constructing large multi-storey buildings such as Louise Melbourne. The exciting part of the OMG brand is the wide extent of projects that we work on, which has us involved with a variety of people, projects and in particular locations!

Being a relatively young team, the pleasure I personally get out of the business is watching our staff grow from impressionable individuals to experts in their field.  I am certainly looking forward to what the future holds for onemilegrid.

Do you have a particular type of project you enjoy working on the most? What are some of the greatest misconceptions about what you do? 

It sounds pretty cliché but building communities is one of the most enjoyable parts of the work we do that I enjoy.  Being able to be involved with designing an outcome that provides homes, recreational space, social space, and hopefully fun spaces for future occupants is something that you cannot go past! 

One of the key misconceptions in the traffic engineering and transport planning space is that more cars the better.  You do not need a car for every dwelling or user, in fact a car for every apartment in my view is backwards. Of course, the site must be in the right location but if you have good access to public transport, amenities, and shops there is no reason why you shouldn’t look at reducing car parking for smaller dwellings. There are so many benefits not only for the environment with a sustainable transport outcome, but also for future occupants with a healthier lifestyle with walking and cycling coming to the fore. Naturally, these projects need to have a focus on travel alternatives and initiatives such as a strong provision of bike parking, walkable access to public transport and share car accessibility if you need a car from time to time. Louise Melbourne is one of these types of projects, where car parking provision is reduced however it is in an awesome location for amenities and transport, has a cracking provision of bike parking, and has a share car on its doorstep.  I certainly encourage a reduction in car parking I just need Council’s and nearby residents to come along the journey with me as the environmental benefits cannot be underestimated!

Over in the waste space, it is common for designers and architects to only allow for 2 waste streams – landfill and recycling. Organics contribute a very high proportion of waste that heads to landfill and therefore separating organics through a separate bin provision is a key recommendation and something that should be allowed for in the waste strategy for any project.  Waste management really needs to be a positive strategy rather than an obligation.  It is pleasing that for the upcoming Louise development, 3 streams have been allowed for. Some Councils are also looking to separate glass from comingled recycling which would add another waste stream. Council like Yarra are already implementing the 4th bin.

In terms of everyday life, did you know that when you order a takeaway coffee that only the plastic lid is recyclable. The cup portion is actually not recyclable due to the lining. So, make sure you have a reusable cup on hand when you are out and about!

What’s the primary role of the traffic and waste engineer in a multi-residential setting? And what are some of the greatest challenges when designing a new building, such as Louise Melbourne?

Our role transitions through a project, from quite heavily involved in the planning stage through to light involvement in construction.  For Louise Melbourne we were involved early on with Cera Stribley, the architects, providing design input on the layout of the basement car park, providing advice on reducing car parking and working through a positive waste strategy.  For these strategies, we need ‘buy in’ from the developer and it is great that Samuel is keen to promote sustainable outcomes not only from a traffic point of view but also from waste.  Once the design is resolved, we get our teeth into preparing a transport impact assessment and waste management plan to accompany the town planning submission. These reports are key for the town planning assessment and more often than not is critically analysed by objectors! 

The greatest challenge for us is being able to fit everything in amongst all the other disciplines. Whilst it is a challenge, it is awesome when we can work with the services engineers, architects, and others to make it work and get a great result for our client. Louise Melbourne actually worked really well as the team have worked together before so had a good idea of the likely expectations of others.

Ramps vs Car Lifts is question that comes up a lot on projects – what’s your take? What benefits can come from adopting a car lift in lieu of the traditional basement ramp?

You are exactly right; this one comes up a lot. The traditionalists will lean toward a ramp but on some sites, this may not be possible, so a more creative solution is required. Car lifts are great for coming up with a way to get from street level into the basement without losing a lot of area with ramps. There are naturally benefits for each option and I’m going to have to sit on the fence on this one and say, it really depends on the site! 

We got a great outcome at both Edition Toorak and Willow Brighton, with a great car lift solution which goes with some incredible residences above.