AIA to get landmark carbon neutral building in Melbourne CBD

June 2, 2010

Lyons’ design for ‘exemplar’ carbon neutral building for the AIA to represent the relationship between architecture and the public.

The Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) is set to get one of the first carbon neutral office buildings in Melbourne, after Melbourne City Council approved the plans last week.

Describing the project as a “landmark development,” the council said the redevelopment of 41 Exhibition Street would “set a new standard for green building design in Melbourne”.

The new 21-storey building, designed by award-winning architectural practice Lyons, is set to achieve a 5 Star Green Star (Office Tool version 3) rating, with features including a high performance façade system and active chilled beams throughout – providing a 40 percent energy saving.

Institute Chief Operating Officer Ross Clark said the “dramatically sculpted and eye-catching” building, which will be the AIA’s long-term home, “must perform at the highest levels of sustainability [and act] as a showcase for the cutting edge, world class architecture that Australian architects are renowned for.”

He added: “We’re delighted both with the approved distinctive design of the building, and its forecast performance.”

Carey Lyons, Director of Lyons, said the building would add variety and interest to the urban streetscape. “Too often small sites in the city get land-banked and eventually aggregated, resulting in large-scale developments and a loss of the fine grain elements that can help define a city’s character.”

Lyons’ proposal features a chiselled staircase that rises from the entrance foyer to the fourth floor, designed to draw visitors into the public spaces of the Institute. “The staircase is designed as an expression of the outreach between architecture and the public,” explained Lyons.

The building will encompass micro retail space, an architecture gallery, architectural bookshop, industry conference spaces, four floors for the Institute and an additional 16 levels of commercial strata titled offices.

A total carbon assessment will ensure the building is carbon neutral throughout its life span, from design through to long-term operational use.

Clark said of the assessment: “[It] shows we’ll achieve a 43 percent carbon reduction through energy efficiency, waste management, transport strategies and sustainable materials; a 60 percent carbon saving by purchasing green power; and 100 percent carbon neutrality by using carbon offsets through owners and tenants.”

The new building, while incorporating extensive energy efficiency measures, also references the traditional public buildings of Melbourne’s Spring Street, carved out of bluestone.

“The chiselling and cut-outs introduce a sculptural aspect to the building, expressing a liberating sentiment inspired ultimately by Michelangelo’s unfinished ‘Slaves’ sculpture in Florence,” explained Lyons.

_All images courtesy of Lyons_

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