Hume City Council, based in Broadmeadows, is committed to the Transit City Vision articulated in the Melbourne 2030 planning framework. The Council wished to consolidate its Sunbury and Broadmeadows offices into one united and seamless organisation, to build a sustainable city of higher density around a strong transit node.
This commission, won through a national RAIA sponsored competition, provided a significant opportunity to design a five-Green Star office building for a progressive organisation. The budget was just over $20 million for 7500 square metres of public space, council office and basement car park/bike store. Built opposite a major shopping centre the new Council office is an important civic marker in Melbournes fastest growing suburb.
We proposed a compact six-level form built up to the local planning schemes height limit, creating a narrow footprint to allow natural light deep into the interior. The proud vertical scale of the building in contrast to the horizontal retail centre is a precedent model for a suburban metropolis.
The orientation of the site favoured a long floorplate facing north-east. Lifts, amenities and open circulation escape stairs are pushed to the east/west ends of the building allowing for the seamless occupation of office space. The open stairs create an internal circulation axis to encourage ease of access between departments. Meeting rooms are located adjacent to the stair to encourage sharing.
Externally, an environmental skin, rendered as a bright white skin and bright green line, wraps around the whole organisation. This singular and dynamic gesture attempts to express the ethos of the Council; equal measures civic and corporate. Expanding at top and bottom to accommodate the staff lounge and public meeting room, the envelope then folds over the foyer to form a generous public space.
The foyer is an extension of the external public realm, visually connected to the generous entry plaza. Recycled timbers contrast with Welcome supergraphics, mediating the relationship between public and private.
Our approach to sustainability was threefold: low energy usage, water conservation and, most importantly, occupant comfort. This was in response to the Councils understanding that motivated, happy staff provide better service to the public. Passive design principles good orientation, sun shading, thermal mass and high performance glass come as standard. A low energy subfloor displacement air-conditioning system delivers air at the occupant level, stratifying the hot air at a high level. Occupants can adjust the floor vent directions and locations. Ceilings are removed, exposing high concrete soffits to perform as thermal sinks. The higher floor-to-ceiling heights assist in the deep penetration of natural light and the up- and down-lighting make ideal occupant comfort lighting conditions. Artificial lighting usage is reduced. Rainwater is captured to flush toilets. Recycled grey water is used on Council greenbelts. Hot water is preheated using the sun.
This building has achieved a five-Green Star design rating, best practice in Australia. The Hume City Council, in demonstrating a commitment to a sustainable Transit City vision through this new building, is leading the way for future developments in its city.