Nick Gonios
January 20, 2022
44 min.

The Circulist Quest #10

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About the Episode

Episode 10: Show Notes

Anyone who is involved in the fight against the climate crisis knows the familiar frustration at how there aren't system-changing requirements in place already. But there are companies that are consistently driving the push for this kind of foundational structure change, and BVN Architecture is one of these inspiring groups in Australia.

Today we are speaking to Ninotschka Titchkosky, co-CEO of this leading architecture firm, who is here to share their vision of the future: smarter, more creative, and better for the planet! BVN's core purpose is to design a better future through re-imagining the built-world using sustainable, innovative and regenerative experiences. We dive into the four pillars on which this future trajectory is based, which are regenerative practice, to eliminate waste, accelerating advanced technologies, and inspire and influence. In this episode, you'll hear all the incredible ways in which they are already well on their journey of personifying these practices.

The listener will hear about some examples of the firm's use of new and advanced technologies and how they've changed the way that BVN operates, as well as some innovative thoughts on the evolution of fees and pay structure in the architectural space. We also touch on how they recently became Climate Active certified, and Ninotschka shares the details of the systematic approach that moved them beyond carbon neutral into being carbon positive.

She also shares her take on the importance of incentivization, leadership when it comes to contracts, the living architecture model, and finally reiterates that keeping things simple is the best way to get lots of people behind the fight to save the planet. Join us now for this inspiring conversation!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Get to know today's guest, Ninotschka Titchkosky.
  • What is the BVN journey? Ninotschka unpacks their past, present, and future.
  • Experimenting and implementing new technology in-house before showing clients.
  • BVN's new vision, and the four pillars on which it's based. 
  • The definition of a living architecture model, according to Ninotschka.
  • Evolving how the fee structure works for architecture. 
  • Some exciting VBN projects that optimize materials, eliminate waste, and create collaborative spaces.
  • About the 3 step process of getting the company carbon positive.
  • Addressing the huge waste problems in the construction sector.
  • How government needs to show leadership around contracts.
  • Ninotschka's take on the global approach to tackling the climate crisis.
  • How we don't have enough incentives for designers and contractors.
  • A walk-through of the goals and design for the Atlassian headquarters.
  • How it's important to not overwhelm everyone with the complexity of the problem.
  • How keeping things simplified will make it easier for more people to get involved!  


“It's about being able to experiment, and the best place to experiment is on yourself.” — Ninotschka Titchkosky [0:02:55] 

“We [at BVN] absolutely believe in the power of the team to do what we do.” — Ninotschka Titchkosky [0:09:27]

“We get enamored by all the shiny new stuff but actually we've got a huge sleeping problem which is the existing building stock, and we can't have a knock-down mentality, we need to have a reinventing and adapting approach.” — Ninotschka Titchkosky [0:16:46]

“What is really required is whole systems change. There's no way that we can keep building the way that we're doing at the moment. ” — Ninotschka Titchkosky [0:27:06]

“It's painful that we have to watch our government from the sidelines just continue to sidestep the issue. So I think that's one of our biggest challenges.” — Ninotschka Titchkosky [0:38:35]

“I think people are genuinely starting to care about it, the wheels are turning on it. It might take us a little longer to achieve the heavy goals that we have.” — Ninotschka Titchkosky [0:38:59] 

“I think we've got to not overwhelm everyone with the complexity of the problem. Part of it is finding easier ways into the solutions. ” — Ninotschka Titchkosky [0:39:14]


Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode: 

Ninotschka Titchkosky on LinkedIn

BVN Architecture

University of Sydney


Circulist Quest

Host Nick Gonios
Producer Jim Lounsbury

Episode Transcript

Nick Gonios: 0:06Hi, everyone. Welcome to the circus quest Podcast. I'm Nick guarding us. And today I'm speaking with Ninotschka Titchkosky, co-CEO of award winning BvN architecture. Ninotschka has more than 25 years experience leading major architectural projects, and is on a mission to change the way we build. She's rethinking the system within which architecture operates and reshaping the value BVN delivers to all stakeholders. BVN is committed to solving for the climate crisis across the built world and recently completed the climate active certification programme, validating BVN has achieved net zero emissions as an organisation. With a strong culture of making, BVN is on the cutting edge of research and innovation, pushing the boundaries of what a building and place can be. In this episode, we explore Ninotschka's journey to date, what drives her every day, and go deeper on how we can work towards a greener, more sustainable future across the built world. Ninotschka, welcome to The Circulist Quest podcast. It's great to have you on board.Ninotschka Titchkosky: 1:06

Great to be here, Nick. Hi.

Nick Gonios: 1:08

Hi, how you doing all? Well, I gather the you know, the current COVID out getting out and about again, it's been good for us. But we're doing this from our homes both today. And it's funny to hear sort of leaf blowers in your background. And I've got planes going over the top of my place or close to so I think it's been an interesting experience and change, positive change with us being getting close to 95% in the next few weeks in terms of COVID testing and double Vax, which is great. So let's get straight into it.

Ninotschka Titchkosky: 1:33

Absolutely. We're gonna miss our leaf blowers, I think.

Nick Gonios: 1:38

That's right. So let's get right into it. I got to see and experience the BVN experience actually and sort of the culture about six months ago when I attended the BVN, it's a two project launch event just before we got into lockdown, actually. And so two is an amazing inspiring project from my point of view that's got so much potential. And it's sort of the world's first robotically 3d printed air diffusion system. And for you know, the general novice out there, that's basically reimagining how air flowed through buildings. You know, from that perspective, I also got to experience and immerse myself in BVN's Living Lab in Sydney, which was amazing to see. And coming from a technology sector journey of mine and and I've sort of been in the foot of this my 30th year this year, it was just next level for me to see the BVN workplace experience and the integration of all that into the sector into what you guys do in terms of working and collaborating and making decisions. Right. So what does that experience look like for you? And how, what does that going into that living work lab? So thinking and operation? What does that mean to yourselves at its core? And then and then we'll go into talking about a bit about your background and how you got to where you are right now?

Ninotschka Titchkosky: 2:48

Yeah, well, thanks, Nick. I mean, it's good that you enjoy the r&d experience of being in our studio environment, I guess, you know, for us, it's really about being able to experiment. And the best place to experiment is on yourself. Sometimes it's a little hard to lead a client to the water. So if we can kind of show and demonstrate some of the possibilities that we think are available, it's a great way to do it through using the studio environment. And also, it's awesome for our people as well, because they get to engage directly into the research and the innovation projects that we're doing, which is really powerful, too. So it's really about using ourselves as guinea pigs and pushing forward into spaces that are more difficult for us to achieve if we were going to try and do it directly with a client in the first instance, project.

Nick Gonios: 3:37

Reminds me of the days when I spent a few years at Microsoft and the common term one approach in business there was around eating their own dog food, and it's very much sounds like a very different analogy. It's very much the same.

Ninotschka Titchkosky: 3:52

[laughing] a bunch of architects, not sure we're up for that one. But yeah, absolutely. Nowadays, it's exactly the same but it's also being able to tinker you know, I think there's something to be said with sort of having a go and iterating and evolving ideas and if it's in your own space, you can keep kind of tweaking it and thinking about how to improve but as I said, it's really it's really lovely coming in and seeing any about people walking outside people around and explaining you know, various aspects of the studio to them and wonderful to see them somebody's body everything which I think you really only get when it is directly kind of relatable space.

Nick Gonios: 4:33

You know, what went straight into to asking about BBN and, and sort of completely did not go into asking you about who isn't the Nasca right and how you got into architecture. And what is the BVN journey I mean, when I look back and doing our research, we found it and sort of summarise the reality of dad was a quant as pilot mine was an entrepreneur which is amazing to sort of look back in time and there's a deep love of horses sweet from your point of view as well for what we've sort of reshares, and so forth. And what does that all mean? Just take us a bit back in time, we're not too far back. But take us back in time and sort of get to where we are right now with us cosi or BVN. As a firm, which is operating globally,

Ninotschka Titchkosky: 5:14

I think what it all means is I'm a bit of a mash up, probably didn't necessarily reflect on, say, for example, my dad's experience or my mom's experiences until much later on in my career, where I sort of maybe understood those subliminal influences that they had on me, I'm from a family of five. Second, youngest, always been really creative. But I think I just kind of got on and started to do things. But in the end, maybe, certainly, with my dad being a pilot, we travelled a lot when we were younger. So that was really sort of fortuitous, we got to see a lot of the world. And then my mom was really big fashion. And she was very, really entrepreneurial, and sort of creative in her own right around how she did that. And as I said, I sort of didn't really realise how much that influenced me, but I think a lot in that journey. And then I ultimately studied architecture in, in Sydney, and Sydney Uni. And I remember even back then it was probably my final year of uni, having a bit of an argument with some of the professors saying, Don't put me in a box, I'm not going to be in a box, you just want us to design courses. And so I sort of remember even back then probably being a little bit Renegade and not actually wanting to conform too much to the status quo. And that's probably actually been, you know, I think if I look back, that's probably true all the way along, although perhaps the older you get, you know, the more willing you are to kind of push harder on those boundaries that you probably get. And then I ultimately, you know, have been practising as an architect for about 25 years, and over, since about 2016, really started to explore robotics more seriously, and look at new technologies and advanced technologies, and started to think about how they were going to change the way that we practice and what possibilities were available to us.

Nick Gonios: 7:16

So tell us a bit about BVN. Now in terms of your global footprint, and you know, drivers values and sort of culture that you operate as an organisation, and it's amazing to know that the organization's you know, over 90 years old, right? It's amazing, must have an amazing history as a firm, you know, 10 years, 100 years is coming up, I gather in nine or 10 years, I would think so, you know, looking back looking where you guys are now and what what the future looks like, you know, maybe be good to sort of unpack all that for our listeners.

Ninotschka Titchkosky: 7:47

Yeah, sure. At BVN, we're currently a practice. It's about 330 people. We've got studios in Sydney, Brisbane, New York, in London, the biggest ones in Sydney and Brisbane. And we've been around, as you say, for about 90 years a bit over actually. And in fact, BVN and started in Brisbane. And one of the character traits of being in is that it's always been an evolving practice. So it's never been a sort of a single straight line it's had it sort of cemented itself and evolved itself, through bringing in new practices, changing partnerships, it has definitely been continually evolving. And actually, the great thing about that, for us is thinking about change doesn't frighten us. And I think one of the things a lot of businesses and practices really come up against is, you know, they're very set in their ways in their partnerships and things. And for them change. You know, it's kind of like climbing Mount Everest, whereas I think change is actually in our DNA, and that evolution is really in our DNA. And we have 16 partners at BVN and we're constantly evolving our partnership. So really, the way that we all see ourselves is custodians of the practice. And so, you know, our goal really is how do we leave it in a better position than when they found it when we pass the baton to someone else. And I think all principals, all of our partners have that mindset. Our core purpose is collective creativity to design a better future. And so we're absolutely you know, we're pretty flat in terms of structure. And we absolutely kind of believe in the power of the team to do what we do. And we really try and create a highly inclusive culture in doing that, and also have fun with creating the exciting things that we get to work on. More recently, we actually established our vision which will drive us forward for the next probably five or so maybe more years, which is smarter, more creative and better for the planet. And there's really four priorities that sit underneath that the first one eliminating waste and everything we do. The second one is regenerative practice. And the third one is accelerating advanced technologies. And the final one is to inspire influence. And so we see those very much as a kind of United whole systems approach. So they're all completely interconnected. But in effect, it's, it's really, I guess, gives us now North Star of where we want to go over the next trajectory of the practices evolution, and certainly unites the things that we believe are critical to future but the future

Nick Gonios: 10:40

it's great to hear and see coming from a passionate young architect wannabe, or industrial designer back in the days when I was probably similarly going through the same timeframe around, you know, being in high school, and, you know, loving design and tech and so forth. And at the same time, fluffing around in my last year, and playing too much tennis, you'll never go on to the trajectory of becoming an architect or industrial designer, but my visual bent, I think, sort of seeing unknown unknowns, or seeing sort of futures and trying to shape them in my mind, sort of forced that I mean, sort of one stage course, but sort of took me on another path because of my participation in the technology sector over the last 30 years. And so what made him become entrepreneurial, I think, when I look at it, so and continue to do so in terms of how things so I completely, you know, resonate, and with your new strategy, and the four pillars, which sort of makes me smile all the time when I hear coming from a services related business model. Right. So, which is fundamentally what so the architecture and service and the industry plays in? So we've had a couple of conversations around, how do you reshape how to rethink that? How do you rethink the business model and the value you're creating? And I remember what I actually spent, I've watched you talk about it in a video recently around, we see a pathway forward where we don't charge fees, we charge for the value we create in terms of a living architecture model, right? What does that mean to you when you talk about living architecture model, and also the evolution of the business model of what are the affirm an architectural studio and practice needs to become looking for going forward?

Ninotschka Titchkosky: 12:12

I think it goes a bit to probably where this conversation might ultimately end up, which is things as a service, in some ways, architecture is a service as well. So that Gone are the days where you produce a building or project. And then it's like you walk away and set to get, you know, what would really be the ultimate model is that we stay involved in the projects that we create, and we continually evolve them. Because we all know that the world is changing so frequently now that the way that we occupy space, the way that we engage with the built environment is continually evolving. And in an ideal world, that would be sort of a living architecture model, in that it continues to evolve. And you don't just think about the bricks and mortar being sort of a static thing. So that's part of it. The other part of it is I think, the idea that, you know, fee for service model is still relevant is really up for discussion. For us, I think too often we get paid for the inputs, we don't get paid for the value that we create, and the value can really be quite significant. And so if you think about the tech industry, the tech industry's done the subscription models and things like that, about how they continually seek value from their customers. In some ways, I think we need to evolve a version of the subscription model for how we think about the built environment, we don't yet have the Holy Grail. And I don't have the silver bullet. But I think as the wills evolving will start to move towards something else, because it just doesn't necessarily continue to make sense that we charge the way we do it. And certainly I don't think we necessarily get paid for the value that we create, if

Nick Gonios: 14:02

100% agree with you so and that's a massive shift going forward in the way the markets evolving. Construction sector overall, is one of the slowest moving ones, as you're aware. And I remember hearing a couple architects that have had some conversations that I've been involved with, in the past, as they know, they're only going to ever involve ever been involved in their life's journey directly as an architect, and probably eight to 10 projects. And when you think about it at a macro level, you think there are so many buildings and built environments that we need to reshape and rethink Coney to get more faster on the journey to try and do that. Right. So it's been great to see, you know, BVN take that step going forward and you know, looking at innovation and how do you learn from the edge in terms of changing behaviours across the board. And there are a couple of projects that I've sort of fallen into and sort of am attracted to is sort of one is the SRT project, which is for me groundbreaking and reply in New York. It'd be nice to talk about a couple of those for our listeners.

Ninotschka Titchkosky: 14:58

For sure, so SRT two that's really started as part of our robotics research. And the reason that we're interested in robotics and digital fabrication is because we don't think that it's sustainable, to continue to build the way that we do. And by using new tools like large scale 3d printing, we can optimise the amounts of material that we use, we can actually explore new materials. So it's hard to replace a steel ductwork with 3d printed, fully recycled plastic was really plastic waste, repurposed, and 3d printed into a new air diffusion system. And in doing so, we've been able to reduce the embodied carbon of the system by 90%, we can actually reduce cross sectional area of the ducts by 75% weight of the system by 76%. Like, they're just massive numbers, and we think, you know, you could probably reduce labour by 50%. And it's actually not taking jobs away, it's actually resolving some of the issues that the construction industry has where they actually the productivity, they can't keep up with the pace at which they need to achieve. And it's, I mean, it's a, it's a huge issue. You know, here's our tools really exploring also the idea of services as part of an ecosystem that supports the way we occupy our buildings, we're particularly interested in how that works with retrofitting existing buildings so that we can keep them relevant. And that's super important for the planet and keeping us you know, below that sort of 1.5 or two degrees, because actually 98% of our buildings are existing, only 2% of view. So we're getting damaged by all the shiny new stuff. But actually, we've got a huge sleeping problem, which is, you know, the existing building stuff, and we can't have a knock down mentality, we really need to have a reinventing and adapting approach to it. I mean, SRT was a research project that we started with UTS. And at the end of it, we kind of felt like, hey, we might actually be on to something. So it's been a pretty interesting journey, looking at replies a slightly different angle, but sort of comes from the same foundational principles, I suppose, reply was started by our team in New York. And it really started from walking the streets during the Black Lives Matter protests in New York, where all of the shop fronts were boarded up with plywood. And, you know, a huge amount of plywood and team but what is gonna happen to all this climate, it's just going to go into landfill at the end. So they actually went around and approached a whole lot of the shop owners and the landlords, and asked him if we could have the plywood, so they effect essentially went around, literally the truck, picked it all up off the streets, and then stockpiled it. And then meanwhile, in New York at the time, because of COVID, they had, none of the restaurants or cafes could have internal dining, so all the dining had to be out on the street. So our team created a set of products made out of this repurpose plywood, to help the cafes and restaurants set up out on the streets. And they actually went from the first lot of pickup of plywood to the first order in two weeks. So they did a massive, churning around a production model. And then setting prices and things and then working closely with the cafes and restaurants to try and understand their needs. That subsequently evolved over time into actually doing purpose built structures, which sit in the parking lane on the streets in New York, like the longhouse which is employ house a co working space to bring co working out to the footpath, and also for events and things. So they've worked with the Rockefeller centre Gramercy Tavern, probably about 16. Actually, no, sorry, there's 90 installations across New York now, I think. And we're actually being covered by media outlets all over the world. And it's really been an amazing story that came out of, you know, walking down the street and having an idea, and then enacting on it.

Nick Gonios: 19:19

Most of these sort of ideas and concepts come about, from my experience, at least, you know, just knowing there's this pent up demand for something that's sort of subconsciously sitting there. And by most people not seeing it, it just takes one or two people to say, that's a problem, we can solve it. Let's get on with it. And it's just amazing to see that you guys are taking the just a relatively, you know, in inverted commas with say, the simpler replay project as an opportunity to solve a specific problem socially for people in New York and obviously spread it to many many different states. Now, also the SI to project instead of it's a completely radical mindset shift for the system as a whole right? So looking at outside trying to fix relatively important will probably They're what have you, it looks like from what I remember speaking to one of your team members around I think was last week where it's a big achievement for BBN to actually achieve climate active certification, and congratulations to the team as a whole on that achievement, reading into it, it's around culture values and organisation or sort of alignment is why you guys went down that path, but it's a feat in itself to achieve it, tell us a bit about why it was important for BVN and how it helps BVN to become a better ever changing organisation.

Ninotschka Titchkosky: 20:31

I mean, it is a really good, it is a really fantastic thing. We're super proud of it. So we are climate active certified, which actually certifies us as being carbon neutral. But we in fact, went a step, and we are actually carbon positive. So we're about 20% better than carbon neutral. We just did that as a decision that we made at board level, that neutral was good, but positive would be better. So let's shoot a little further out. I mean, I guess fundamentally, you know, our goal is to be better for the planet, we really need to look at ourselves in the first instance. And this was really the beginning of a bigger piece of work. Because the next piece of work, which we're working on at the moment is how we deal with our projects, and how we deal with project targets. But but we had to get our own ship in order first our own house in order and FY 2020. That was the first year that we got certified. And then we've just about finished for 2021 at the moment. And so we had a total tonnage in FY 2020 of 1575, roughly tonnes of co2, we've offset that through only through Australian funds, there are lots of different ones that you can do. But essentially, we've offset that through Australian funds, both Aboriginal base funds and planting, essentially. But we are quite particular about where we do offsets as well. And really, for us, it's been a three step process, like the first one we did was we had to measure everything, and we engage the company to do the auditing for us. And then the second component was to action the offsets. And the third is really to continually improve. So we are looking at that. But in the auditing and the measuring. I mean, we measured everything from operations, employee commutes flights, the business itself, third party services, food, water energy. So now we've gone to, we're at the point now where we were 100%, certified green power. And we're also joined the CitySwitch programme policies. And we've also embedded a new travel policy, which limits or limits, it makes us much more conscious of the way we travel, which by far and away was our biggest sort of contributor to our carbon footprint.

Nick Gonios: 23:05

That's great news. And I gather that sort of now it's embedding that into the way the organisation just operates on a daily basis. Right. So which is great to see, it sounds like it's the equivalent to the B Corp movement as well for, you know, other organisations out there in other categories,

Ninotschka Titchkosky: 23:19

Pretty much, yeah. I mean, we've actually looked at the core, we think we could sign up to be we've sort of have an action that at this point in time, but I think the main thing for us is that we can practice what we preach. And once we can do that, then we can move on to the next level of things. But you know, what's fantastic is actually, whilst it's been a lot of work in the background, coming to that decision and enacting it has been relatively straightforward. Yeah.

Nick Gonios: 23:48

Wow, that's great to see. It's great to see that an organisation as big as yours, relatively can actually act on it, you know, I mean, it's probably taking 12 to 18 months to get it on the go. But it seems to sounds like it's, it's sort of been taken on really well right. There's a lot of antibodies in organisations and it seems like BVN has been able to tackle them.

Ninotschka Titchkosky: 24:08

Got rid of those... Everyone's drinking the coolaid at BVN [laughing]

Nick Gonios: 24:14

Let's get on the topic quickly, which is around what I call green lipstick on the pig is the topic of I love to talk about. Well, I'll talk about sort of offline but first time I think in our circles because podcasts but living believe it, there's quite a sort of, I would say sort of the greenwashing that's been spoken about even at COP 26. Last week, or the one I'm leading towards is there are so many sustainable green frameworks out there for your clients and so the tenants to sort of incorporate and try and recognise or give some form of recognition of the effort they're applying to renewables and sustainability across the board. There's neighbours there's GreenStar there's LW ed in the US bream in the UK. There's the embodied carbon Alliance here in Australia called Mechler as well so there's all He's different organisations that are trying to get towards a common cause. But it's also been recognised that they've been, I won't say controversially, but have been used as a way to sort of promote differentiation without being able to get to the clear source of truth of the data that's actually been collated. And so therefore creating certain levels of perception in market around what is happening versus what is actually happening. What are your general thoughts, I mean, this leads into Circulus perspective on circular economy as a whole, which is very much we believe there are two versions of the circular economy version one is the way the way most organisations and the media and policymakers and so forth, talk about circular economy is very much around solving for the symptoms in the current system, which is waste, recycling, right through repair extended product life for us, when you talk about circular economy, you can give it a label around circular economy being solving for those systemic symptoms. But let's not call it circular economy, because it's really going to kick the can down the road in the current system, if we don't act on reimagining the system, right, applying systems thinking and complex thinking and behavioural science and so forth into the equation to actually rethink how do we eliminate all those symptoms in version one in version two, right. So from our point of view, that sort of general architecture of thinking version one, version two, which is version two is going to be a lot harder, but we have to act on it now. Right, we have to, we have to act on green mentioning our infrastructure to becoming more aligned to actually executing on a version two executional model. So if with that frame of mind, and looking at our sort of certification levels, or everyone's trying to do the right thing, and sort of get on with moving towards a netzero future, but it's actually a bit, you know, version one, or even these levels of measures are really just dealing with the, you know, there's a veneer or layer that's at least at high level for me to see that. And it's just, we're not dealing with the underlying root causes of the problems, right, across sort of the construction and built sector, but what sector?

Ninotschka Titchkosky: 27:02

What are your thoughts on that? Well, I totally agree with you, I think there's, I mean, there's really what is really required is sort of pole systems change. And, you know, there's no way that we can keep building, the way that we're doing at the moment, like the time, the cost and the resources that are expended. And the waste that's expended not just not just a waste of materials, but in time is just extraordinary in the construction industry in the property industry. But at the moment, the market is too segmented. And the way the contracts are set up are too segmented. Because if you're thinking about a circular economy, you need to close the loop. And to close the loop, one of the key things that they need to do is rewrite contracts so that we're not segmenting each part of the process. Because as soon as you segment each part of the process, nobody has the responsibility of closing the loop. So I was actually really excited just this last week, we put in a bid for a project for infrastructure, New South Wales, and they put into the bid that the solution was to be designed for disassembly. And I explicitly asked him about whether the contract will reflect that. And they said, Yes. So I think that's a really good step in the right direction. And there certainly is some really good news, I think, though, it'll be a little bit of a carrot and a stick situation where we've got to get, particularly government show leaders through shift around major contracts. And then we sort of need the industry to start to understand the complexity of what's at stake. But because it is very complex, and it is a huge change management kind of process, I think we need to also think about what are the steps that are achievable to help people get on that path? For me, the two big things when it comes to buildings and construction, probably the three things is really, obviously, energy is a big one, I think it's also embodied carbon is really a big target. And when you start to look at embodied carbon, you start to think about different consequence theory materials, it forces you to think about the potential of prefabrication designing produce assembly. So I think, even if they focus just on those two pieces, that's a good start. And unfortunately, the rating tools at the moment, don't necessarily cover those off. They're starting to think about embodied carbon in a bigger way now, but that hasn't been very prevalent. Really. I feel like perhaps the writing tools, you know, what happens with a lot of the Writing Tools is they actually embed bad practices into projects as well. And what we almost need to do is simplify, take it back a step and sort of go where are the big hits that we need to take focus on those and some of the other things, you know, some of the other things may be left behind. But in the scheme of it, they're less critical. There's lots of instances where the writing tools, even the conflict between the property counsel guides on, you know, how you would write a commercial building a grade premium, etc. Where they conflict with ideas like embodied carbon. Wow, those kinds of things haven't yet come together to make a cohesive picture that helps guide industry successful

Nick Gonios: 30:30

is that which says that from a local context, or sort of a North American or European context? Like what when you when you reflect back and look at all these different measures and certifications? Do we have a different, you know, this? Is it very localised? Or, you know, is there a global approach to this, I mean, I, I'm new to the sector. So,

Ninotschka Titchkosky: 30:46

I think it's pretty global. I mean, there's different tools that come out of different jurisdictions, but I think they're generally speaking, they're not that dissimilar from each other. And I think generally speaking, most countries have similar issues, unless government has sort of put a real stake in the ground on certain things, because at the moment, what's really driving the market to progress is that the landowners and the developers are seeing the benefit with that's really, you know, they understand that this asset, they want to hold this asset for 15 years, 20 years, whatever it might be. And if they don't look to the future, in terms of the protection of the value of that asset, then it might be worth that much going forward. So, you know, they're coming at it from that angle, we still don't have enough incentivization I don't think of, you know, designers, contractors, government, and so on to the party. So it's a bit of a mess. It's complex, it's a bit of a mixing. I mean, I think the other part of it that is really interesting, and certainly an area I'm super interested in is how we use advanced manufacturing, which enables us to really radically rethink what we're doing, you know, to move away from sticks and sheets of materials, that sort of thing, so...

Nick Gonios: 32:07

I hear you. I think incorporating that, as you probably know, with me with our conversation has been very much shifting away from products around people owning them to now delivered as a service offerings right as capabilities. And that fundamentally shifts the mindset and incentives and you know, outcomes of delivering a range of products as a service across a built environment, place where the onus is on the delivery of the provider to actually design a better product design a product that is disassembled, and made again in a better, more less dematerialized and more energy efficient versions of those rights. So to do that, that's a massive task. That's like looking back into the value chain, you think, well, how are these organisations gonna transform work? Also, our net net importer in Australia or products? Right, which is the overarching challenge for me, when you look at it from a levers point of view? How do we shift towards that? So let's get on to sort of a very interesting, I think, an exciting project is the Atlassian, the new Atlassian HQ. And I think it really embodies all those different aspects that we spoke about in terms of becoming a landmark for for Sydney and the future, they're going to be some, you know, worldfirst challenges to deal with in terms of the the height of the project in terms of floors, and you know, the wood and glass sort of experience in engineering that needs to go that for mine understand there's going to be you know, that project in itself is going to try and break into new grounds and also trying to tackle many different aspects around sustainability and circularity. So let me sort of talk a bit about that project and probably come back on a more positive note.

Ninotschka Titchkosky: 33:36

So Atlassian, is a new headquarters for Atlassian. If we just go to be built at Central Nick, just right at the edge of central station. It's a 39 storey tower, which is actually built over an existing heritage building. And it's, at least at this point in time, it'd be the world's tallest hybrid timber tower. And hybrid timber tower basically means it's a combination of concrete, steel, and mass timber construction. So it's got a concrete, steel, external frame, which supports the outer part of the floorplan. And then really, if you think about it, the building is then designed in lots of four levels. So every fourth level is a concrete and steel floor. And then in between that is our timber floor. So there's almost like three storey timber buildings inside every four levels, if you like. So it's like a little timber village that gets inserted and the reason for that is that this you know, timber construction technology won't support a building of that height. And also, the taller you go, the more complex the fire issues are. In a sense, every fourth floor is like a fire. And so that enables if there was a fire to be contained within that compartment, so That's how we can get up to a very tall part. But the timber becomes an important part of achieving the goal for the building. So there's really two critical goals for the building one is a 50% reduction of embodied carbon. And the second one is 100%, renewable energy with some of it generated on site through photovoltaics, which integrate into the sun, the building also has at the bottom of every four floors, which we call the habitat, habitat, there's also a park and the park is actually a fully naturally ventilated space, which sits at the edge of the floor plate, and then the mechanic, you know, the way that the mechanical system works, and the way that we move from being a fully mechanically space to what we call it indoors, to emit doors, and then the outdoors, which is the helps us transition from, you know, an air conditioned environment in some parts of the building, which is all done through water cooling, as opposed to into a fully naturally ventilated environment, which is quite a complicated thing to do in a tower. So, yeah, they're probably some of the really kind of interesting aspects of that project.

Nick Gonios: 36:16

So that's been approved by looks of it, and then sort of it will be it'll come to life in what is it three to five years?

Ninotschka Titchkosky: 36:22

2026 Actually. So yeah, as you said, some architects might only build a these big projects that take a long time, and we've already been working on it nearly for two years. But it's a very, very complex site, you know, it's sitting right on Central Station, Central Station is the busiest transport car in the whole of Australia. There's incredibly complex issues that associate with that, whether it's about bone blast resistance, or, you know, pedestrian sort of numbers and projections on those as transport grows and things like that. So there's lots of complicated issues around the project, as well as the project itself is I try to be a world leader. So

Nick Gonios: 37:10

it's great. I'm looking forward to see the journey and seeing the construction of it over time and be proud of it when it's done. So as a Sydney sider for

Ninotschka Titchkosky: 37:17

So I hope we can look back and go, Oh, now we've already progressed so far beyond that by the time it's built. That should be the goal, right?

Nick Gonios: 37:26

that should be the goal. That's right. It's just mind stream. Right. So let's sort of start wrapping up. And the big question I'd like to sort of get into asking now. And I think it'd be interesting to get your views on is we are very similar in mind, we're very similar in perspective, and it's coming from very different angles based on learnings and experiences in our journeys. The big question I have for you is, can we really fix the climate crisis with so many existing in your buildings to be managed and produce the site the same way?

Ninotschka Titchkosky: 37:56

Well, as I sometimes say, It depends if I'm on a dark day or a bright day, fundamentally, yes, I think we will. And I think we will, because I'm actually really buoyed by the amount of interest in the market and the amount of money in the market around this issue at the moment. And I think we can go where the money goes, and you see the money going towards net zero, and other sustainability initiatives. And I think that's a really positive indicator, there's definitely feels like there's an acceleration of focus over the last even the last eight months, I think, which is also incredibly boring. But it's painful that we have to sort of watch out government from the sidelines, just continue to sort of sidestep the issue. So I think that's probably one of our biggest challenges. I mean, we've raised pretty fortunate, I think, in New South Wales, you know, we actually have a state government who's certainly one of the most progressive in Australia. That's fantastic. We're also thing, I think we can because I think people are really genuinely starting to care about it, the wheels are turning on, and it might take us a little longer to sort of achieve the heady goals that we have. But if we can continue to make steps in the right direction, I think that's a big one. And I think we've got to not overwhelm everyone. The complexity of the problem, or part of it is, I think, finding easier ways into the solution. You know, they'll always be those of us that might exist in a more complex part of the space. And of course, always having the outliers will bring, you know, bring everyone along. But you need to find a way to get the bulk of the people to actually engage in the solution. And that means not making it too complex, I think to get

Nick Gonios: 39:46

both leads very well into our project we're collectively working on we haven't really shared openly but you know, a reimagined series that we're working on to help the general populace to get to understand some of these challenges and opportunities with sort of a story approach. And so we're, we're looking forward to collaborating on that.

Ninotschka Titchkosky: 40:03

Yeah, I'm really excited about that. That's going to be alot of fun.

Nick Gonios: 40:06

So do you have any final words for us to wrap up on our conversation, which has been good? I've always enjoyed our chats.

Ninotschka Titchkosky: 40:14

I don't know, I'm actually, you know, in even in the last two weeks, I think I've probably I have had quite a range of conversations around not just circularity, sustainability of the environment, which I, you know, I just think that's super exciting. And what we need people to understand, it's like, don't be afraid of this, this is actually like, a real sort of huge opportunity for us just think about things in new ways to think about possibilities that haven't been afforded to us, you know, for 200 years, this is just such an exciting thing for us to engage in actually think we're in one of the most interesting times in the history of humanity right now. And take it you know, grab the bull by the horns, I think it's really interesting and feel confident that we're actually going to get somewhere certainly in my lifetime. And

Nick Gonios: 41:13

that's well said, I agree with you, 100%. And I look back in history, which we don't do enough of. And so you look at the patterns in the 1910s and 20s, in the last century, was the truly systemically driven changes that were going at a deep level as a society as a world. And it's evident right now that we are going through that same opportunity and explosive change that needs to happen with what's happened with even pre during and sort of post COVID. Right now, relatively, it is opened up an opportunity for us to, you know, explode and drive amazing ideas and concepts to be brought to life, specifically down to their foundational infrastructure layer. When talking about infrastructure. It's actually the reimagining of the systems and the operating models of the future. And it's what I'm excited about. It sounds like we're both collectively driven by the same thing. I have my challenges. We're waking up on a Sunday thinking, how much harder do I need to be this is this is sort of Circulus is my fourth venture. So the leading in where I'm at, and, and I'm hoping that we do change. And from our point of view, it's our execution of Circulus in the market is very much going to be decades to bring to life and therefore I'll be super proud when my time God does come to sort of that that journey continues, right? So I get quite philosophical and Stoke about things in that sense. But it sounds like we're I think we're collectively like minded from that point of view, but it's been unbelievable chatting with you. And so looking forward to catching up face to face again sometime soon. On that note, I'd like to thank you so much for joining me on the Circulus quest Podcast. I'm sure listeners have enjoyed that conversation immensely. It's been great to learn about your journey. The BVN story and your perspectives on reimagining the built world together with being on the path to solving the climate crisis with sustainable regenerative experiences, city by city around the world. So for those of you interested in finding out more about naskah and BVN, please check out my Ninotschka's profile page on LinkedIn or visit Thank you.

Ninotschka Titchkosky: 43:12

Thanks for having me Nick. Always a pleasure.

Nick Gonios: 43:15

At The Circulist Quest we're always interested in stories about entrepreneurs, designers, engineers and scientists who are helping to accelerate the shift to the circular economy. If you now have someone we just have to talk to will have any questions about the technology we're developing to help product manufacturers close the loop. Visit our website at or write to us at

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