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Winner of the NT AIA Tracy Award 2013

The Green Well Building is a developers’ project with a business venture as its core driver. A number of different schemes were investigated for the vacant block at 50 Bath Street, including single-storey retail and multi-storey mixed developments. The project gained focus when the NT Government released a tender for provision of 1,000m2 of office space in a new building in the Alice Springs CBD. Although the NTG tender put the Green Well project in direct competition with other developers, it was beneficial to the project in providing a detailed technical brief including ambitious energy ratings and guaranteed economic returns for the successful tenderer.

NTG functional brief did not inform which or how many government departments would be housed in the new building, or whether they would require a public interface. Therefore the program was resolved in a simple, speculative-type office space with the flexibility to accommodate different fitouts.

The architectural concept for the building was to float an articulated, rusted box above the level of the extensive surface carparking areas adjoining Coles and Kmart, while engaging with Bath Street at street level to define a better pedestrian environment and reinforce the primacy of the CBD grid. The rusted façade connects with the ground only at the south east corner of the building, grounding the form and defining the footpath. The habitable space at ground level facing the street represents a small part of the overall floor area of the building, but is vitally important in screening the carparking and presenting an active frontage at street level. The designers also faced the paradox of creating a scheme which was built up to lot boundaries but essentially free standing.

The building is designed to achieve NABERS OFFICE ratings including 5-star energy, 4-star water, 3-star waste, 3-star indoor environment and will be assessed after one year of occupation. Other sustainable features include rainwater tanks to detain and harvest rainwater for use in toilets and landscaping, and obtaining natural light through the fire rated north boundary wall.

SDA worked closely with BCA Engineers to achieve the required energy and water ratings, using computer modeling to refine elements such as glazing selections, the layout and extent of the anodized aluminium shade louvres, wall construction, and mechanical strategies including designing the foyer as a sacrificial space that receives borrowed cooling.

ArchitecturalCladdingsAustralia provided design advice, and detailed, fabricated and installed the striking Corten rusted steel cladding.

The heritage infrastructure on the site, a well that served the original residence on the lot, has been restored and integrated as a feature and as borrowed space for the entry forecourt.

The scheme maximized the available site by building up to 3 boundaries, setting back only 3m on the south boundary for access to natural light, and at the north east corner to accommodate the heritage listed well combined with a small entry forecourt.

The owners have created a successful business venture with an aesthetically ambitious, architecturally designed building that fulfills the high standards set by the NT Government.

Susan Dugdale