Today, the level of transparency achieved by the façade of a commercial building is a balancing act – a trade-off between the needs of tenants, environmental considerations and the execution of the architectural form.
The demand for transparency comes in large part from landlords and tenants. Within the corporate world, large expansive views are highly desirable and building owners and developers wish for their buildings to appeal to this market. When spectacular views of Sydney’s Harbour or Melbourne’s skyline are achievable, an uninterrupted view becomes even more important.
Equally, employers are increasingly concerned with the well-being of their staff, and access to natural light and views are important. An outlook that also captures views of the natural world or biophilic elements has an enhanced effect on well-being.
Conversely, a drive to reduce the environmental load, particularly solar heat gain, has the opposite effect on the building envelope. The imperative here is to make openings smaller, use shade elements and tinted glasses to stop the sun’s heat from penetrating the building and putting pressure on the environmental systems. Legislative requirements such as the Building Code of Australia strongly encourage this.
The variety of building form achieved by several of Bates Smart’s recent projects demonstrates how these factors, when combined with the building context, can be executed in a variety of ways.
The four faces of 177 Pacific Highway, Sydney are tailored to their aspects, with shading strategies adapted for each orientation, while maintaining the openness desired of a commercial high-rise. The building also responds to planning conditions restricting overshadowing of public places, its form pushing forwards and backwards as cantilevered volumes in response.
Deco, 155 Clarence Streeet, Sydney utilises sun shading to its new upper levels to create a very open façade, which delivers a crisp contrast to the elegant art deco building below.
Melbourne Dockland’s ATO building also utilises sun shading, but the effect here is of a sleekly defined cube.