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This boutique office development on a brownfields site proves that even simple sustainable design solutions can produce impressive results

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Brownfields sites bring their own challenges, but there can be many benefits to redevelopment. Land costs are often less, and such projects can provide an opportunity to improve the public domain by enriching the entire area.

This boutique office development in West Perth, known as 28 Troode Street, highlights a sustainable solution to a brownfields site. Designed by The Buchan Group, the building needed to accommodate the site's steep gradient and triangular shape, while simultaneously providing an appealing office and a Green Star-rated work environment.

Architect Lou Cotter says the site was originally contaminated scrubland that incorporated a small vacant mechanics' workshop, which was covered in graffiti. However, there were some positive aspects – the location beside the Mitchell Freeway meant there was easy access to the CBD via road and rail. There were also good city views.

"The site clearly had potential," the architect says. "The brief called for a flexible design – the building needed to be able to accommodate a number of small tenancies, or a single tenant occupying the whole building, which is in fact what eventuated in the interim.

"We wanted to incorporate passive design principles, so it was essential to maximise natural daylight, while minimising solar gain. Consequently, there is full-height glazing on the north and south facades to provide natural light to all office areas. The ground floor on the street elevation is set back from the level above to create a covered pedestrian space. The generous eaves also help to reduce glare within the building.

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"For further sun protection, we introduced large vertical sunscreens to this facade. These have a distinctive profile that is echoed by the sculptural stainless steel cladding on a column at the entry. The same profile can be seen on suspended timber blades on the ceiling inside the reception area."

To cater to the triangular shape of the site, the building's form reduces to the east. This facade, and the longer west facade have minimal glazing to reduce solar gain.

"A series of deep slot windows cut into these facades is essentially self shading due to the depths of the reveals," says Cotter. "The opaque sections, which feature durable fibre-cement panelling, are colourfully articulated in earthy shades that reflect the colour of weathered steel, without the associated cost."

The central services core of the stepped west facade is defined by reverse-fixed Klip-Lok steel, in a dark charcoal shade.

Composite aluminium features on the external soffits above the entry. These have a reflective metallic finish. But the design team has again provided strong textural contrast – the entry is lined with roughsawn American black walnut in a variety of thicknesses and a random vertical pattern. The battens are finished with a light tung oil.

"We used the same timber panelling within the VDM fit-out in the reception area," says Cotter. "The timber can also been seen as a trim and sculptural element on the reception desk."

Other features of the office fit-out include polished aggregate concrete flooring, which is used to highlight the key circulation areas. The flooring beneath the seating areas is a tinted concrete.

To enhance a sense of transparency between floors, the stair wall was built using LVL timber columns that support Webforge aluminium screens. The timber treads are supported on a central steel spine, and the stair risers are in-filled with perforated aluminium sheets that help to keep the overall look sleek and contemporary.

Cotter says the building has achieved a 4-Star Green Star Design rating, and is on track to achieve a 4.5 Star NABERS rating.

"The sustainable initiatives included a reduction in energy use, along with water conservation. The glass is double glazed and argon filled, and provides excellent daylight penetration into the 1100m2 floorplate. The building also features high-efficiency lights that operate on movement and daylight sensors. As well, we provided extensive End of Trip facilities for workers who cycle – the site is beside a regional cycleway."

Cotter says tenants also benefit from an internal courtyard, which is a two-level breakout area that is partially roofed and shielded from traffic noise. This provides a tranquil space where workers can relax.

"The other major transformation that has resulted from the development, has been the change to the original scrubland," says the architect. "The new development dramatically improves the public domain, enriching the overall area, improving the quality of building in the vicinity, and providing enhanced landscaping.

"The contaminated land has been reclaimed and rehabilitated – the scrubland and dead grass has made way for new trees, native planting and a variety of flora, which improve the ecological value of the site."

First published date: 02 April 2014

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