In collaboration with German architect Christoph Ingenhoven, Architectus’ award-winning, Six Star Green Star-rated One Bligh Street was built through the recession for property group Dexus and Cbus. Completed in 2011, the building remains an international reference for a high-performance office environment that is both socially and environmentally sustainable.
Early concepts for the building began with a rectangular form, eventually rounded off as a concession to the shape of the site, pointing a corner to Sydney harbour. Architectus sought a way to maximise premium harbourside vistas, while addressing heat gain from the north-facing aspect. Implementing a double skin façade, the building’s “finely nuanced” Venetian shading system adjusts to the sun’s position, giving tenants continuous access to coveted peninsula views while managing optimum office temperatures.
With a full-height atrium acting as an organic lung for the building, the success of Architectus’ office design draws foremost from the abundance of natural light and ventilation. Internal balconies within the atrium space are tempered by using spill-air from the air conditioning system. Making use of air normally wasted, Architectus neatly addresses a significant concern in managing office energy consumption, while the open balcony spaces and glass ceiling offer a sense of release and connection to the elements.
“It’s about being able to change your work environment – to get outside easily and give people a variety of work settings, moving away from the ‘one size fits all’ idea,” Brown says.
After recently relocating Architectus’ own Sydney office from a generous space in North Sydney to the 1970’s dimensions of Harry Seidler’s MLC Centre building, spatial considerations in the workplace are front of mind for Brown.
“We came out of a beautiful three-metre ceiling height office building into this really compressed space,” Brown says, “But through expressing the structure and services, we’ve got a beautiful, up-lit space that’s taller than we had before.” Achieving a comfortable volume is crucial to maintaining quality across expansive floorplates.
At street level, the civic quality of the building promotes a wider community engagement, on a unique site on the nexus of two urban grids connected to both the CBD and the harbour. “The concept was really to make the building float over the ground plain, so that the public area was extended in all directions.” A grand staircase leading down to the corner invites social activity, where frequently people stop to eat lunch. The positioning of the entrance is deliberate, opposite sandstone buildings across the road that will remain low-rise, ensuring that the public space will remain perennially sunlit.
Architectus maintains a strong presence in the Asia Pacific region, with offices in Auckland and Christchurch and Shanghai, and on home soil in Melbourne, Brisbane, Queensland and Sydney.
“In Sydney it’s a particularly good time to be an architect,” Brown says. “There’ll be another three million people living in Sydney in the next 35 years who will need to live and work somewhere,” a phase of development that Architectus will actively look to resolve through a widespread portfolio of major infrastructure projects. Having provided the city planning, urban design and architectural design services for the Gold Coast Light Rail completed in 2014, Brown notes that a key concern in Sydney is the city’s notorious transport system.
Currently, Architectus is at work with a mixed-use development in Brisbane, as well as the Australian Institute of Nano Science at Sydney University, and a kinetic façade for an industrial project in South Yarra. The firm is also working with Pritzker Prize-winning architectural behemoths SANAA on this year’s Sydney Modern Project, a highly-anticipated extension of the Art Gallery of New South Wales to be completed in 2021.