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The new Three35 mixed-use development on Lincoln Rd Christchurch provides visual interest to the street and defines a green, social space for citizens

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In the three years following one of New Zealand's most significant natural disasters, Christchurch architects have had to bring fresh focus to their designs. Expansive, versatile floorplates and energy efficiency are ever key drivers, but now resilience, social-mindedness and a quest to reanimate the city streetscape are also part of the agenda.

Three35, by Jasmax with architect Richard Hayman at the helm, comprises two, three-storey mixed-use office-and-retail blocks and a discreet, highly automated garage at the rear.

"The vision for this job was to create a desirable office-and-mixed use precinct that responds well to, and enhances, its local context," says Hayman. "Lincoln Road is a main arterial route in and out of Addington, an area of flux both pre and post quake.

"The precinct has a central, 100m-long street presence and a commanding corner position in this emerging inner-city suburb. In response to the prime setting, the decision was made to challenge set-back rules to create a higher quality street environment. This move would also free up a quarter of the site for usable outdoor space.

"With this approved, we designed the precinct as two similar rectilinear office blocks, and pushed these to the front of the site. This arrangement allows the life of the building occupants – whether offices or retail – to engage with the street. The simple forms also result in large, flexible floorplates. The carpark building is tucked in behind, with vehicular access from a side street. This contrasts the more traditional model in the area, where the building is set back, presenting the rather utilitarian sight of parked cars to the street."

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The greater design picture for Three35 was to contribute to the social fabric of the community. To this end, the area between the buildings was utilised as an internal grassed courtyard, a facility previously lacking in Addington. There are no gates, and passers-by, as well as workers from both buildings, are encouraged to use the open space.

To create a strong architectural presence, both buildings have angled front facades, presenting changing aspects when viewed from different directions. Tall windows and doors at ground level offer glimpses into offices or access into retail spaces.

Three35's impressive black facades are made even more dramatic by a brise soleil – a series of vertical and horizontal black powdercoated aluminium fins applied to the curtain wall facade. This functions as an aesthetic link that ties the two buildings together and provides passive shading.

The dramatic livery is continued in other ways, too. Central lobbies are clad in black-backed glass. Set beside these, internal social stairs are highly visible from the courtyard, further animating the design. These stairs feature a custom laser-cut balustrading that continues the look of the black expanded aluminium mesh, which is used as a screening device to encase fire egress stairwells.

The carpark structure behind is encased in a galvanised steel grating system that will eventually be screened by climbing plants.

"Scale was naturally a major consideration in the project," says Hayman. "The office buildings are in proportion to the size and massing of their neighbours, and both have views over the top of the split-level carpark facility."

The construction of the buildings is as innovative as their aesthetic presence – driven by the need to protect the structures in the case of future seismic activity. Both have a piled foundation system with diagonally braced steel frames.

"The frames feature removable bolted links that dissipate energy in the bracing during a significant seismic event. The linkages can be unbolted and replaced – much like an old-fashioned fuse wire – returning the buildings to sound working order."

"Another key part of the low-damage design was to isolate ceiling systems, which in previous events had rubbed up against other components and caved in, obstructing access to interiors."

The brief for Three35 required full compliancy with a 4 Star Green Star benchmark, although this accreditation has not yet been pursued. A raft of green elements include passive control over the sun, utilising the brise soleil, and high-efficiency, argon-filled double glazing to retain warmth in winter. The buildings' adaptable floorplates and emphasis on encouraging the use of stairs are other sustainable factors. Eco-friendly elements, such as low-flow water fittings, LED sensor lighting and VOC-free materials feature throughout. The green walls for the car park and the use of permeable components in the landscaping to enable rainwater recycling are other Green Star pluses.

Jasmax also completed four integrated fit-outs, including two for principal tenants MediaWorks and Moore Stephens Markhams. Part of the prescription for ground-level tenants determined that furniture would not set against external walls – to help make the interiors attractive from outside. Natural timbers feature on the interior, and for MediaWorks, vibrant polycarbonate-enclosed spaces offer visual interest when viewed from the street. Exposed ceilings add a touch of industrial chic.

The fit-out for accountancy firm Moore Stephens Markhams, has a refined demeanour. Clean, bright surfaces and frosted glazing create the professional aesthetic the company required.

First published date: 27 May 2014

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Credit List

Project Three35, Christchurch
Architect Richard Hayman NZIA, Jasmax
Interior designer Alasdair Hood NZIA, DINZ, Jasmax Courtyard design Mike Thomas and Rob Lawry, Jasmax Landscape Architects
Developer Cadaques Investments Ltd
Construction company Armitage Williams Construction
Civil engineer Ruamoko Solutions
Mechanical and electrical engineer Cosgroves
Quantity surveyor Rawlinsons
Earthworks Taggarts Excavation; Texco
Landscaping Morgan and Pollard
Cladding Glass from Metro GlassTech, Alpolic panels from Mitsubishi
Roof Metal profile Veedek from Dimond
Facade design and construction Aluminium by Alutech
Glazing system Structural flush curtain wall by Alutech
Security Protégé from Cactus
Signage Horton Signs
Balustrades Custom perforated metal with timber handrail by Canterbury Balustrades
Flooring Interface carpet tiles from Dominion Flooring
Wallcoverings Back-painted glass in lobbies
Ceiling USG suspended ceiling
Lighting Philips, Arnold Jensen Electrical
Air conditioning Beattie Air Conditioning, Mitsubishi
Furniture Lobby furniture by Unison Workspaces
Exterior exposed aggregate concrete Firth pavers by Allways Paving