22 July 2014 – Charter Hall’s building at 570 Bourke Street in Melbourne, completed in 1969, is currently subject to a major redevelopment including an 11-storey addition at the front of the existing building.
The project is the culmination of a sustainability and amenity upgrade that started in 2010, when the group took full ownership of the property.
The building’s NABERS rating at purchase was 2.5 stars, and a $5 million sustainability capital works program was undertaken to bring it up to 4 stars.
- See our separate feature Charter Hall on why demand and bottom line logic keeps driving sustainability
The program included replacement of the chiller plant; heating hot water and domestic hot water upgrades; tenant condenser water upgrade; modifications to the cooling coils; conversion to a low temperature VAV mechanical system; a full air balance and calibration; and an efficiency tuning of the mechanical system.
Charter Hall estimates the cumulative energy savings of the upgrade over a four year period will be $780,000, which equates to a reduction of about 6975 tonnes of CO² emissions.
The current redevelopment will raise the NABERS rating even further, to a forecast 4.5 stars.
The new office space currently being constructed comprises what is at this stage Melbourne’s largest vertically connected floorplates at 2700 sq m. A glass atrium will span 10 levels and ensure extremely high levels of natural light throughout each floor, and interconnecting stairways will encourage staff collaboration and vertical connectivity between floors.
According to head of commercial and industrial, Chris Chapple, the project, designed by HASSELL and under construction by Brookfield Multiplex, made a major sustainability gain at the very outset, simply by choosing to add to an existing asset with “very good bones”, rather than demolish it and start again.
The existing 32-storey building will remain tenanted in the upper levels throughout construction, while the lower 10 levels where the new construction was being melded with the existing building fabric are currently empty. The vacancy, Mr Chapple said, was regarded as a window of opportunity for the project.
The other advantage for the group of repositioning 570 Bourke Street rather than a complete redevelopment was that the finished project could be brought to market far more quickly, with completion currently projected for mid 2015.
“We saw an opportunity with that asset to capitalise on what we have seen in Docklands, which is the shift towards larger floorplates, so companies could get the style and size of space they were looking for but want to stay in the CBD, where staff have CBD amenities and are comfortable, and where the firm has close contact with peers,” Mr Chapple said.
In addition to designing the space around the tenant-driven demand for larger, open floorplates the decision to incorporate an atrium for vertical connection and natural light was also influenced by observations of what tenants have been attracted to. The other major driver was sustainability.
“The decision to proceed with this project was a confident one for the fund,” Mr Chapple said. “It will bring the building up to the upper end of PCA Premium A Grade.”
The new 570 Bourke will have what Mr Chapple said would be a much greater “sense of arrival”, with the new elements on the street frontage and an expansive lobby featuring bluestone paving. Gresham Street, which runs down one side of the site, is being converted into a lane, and together with another laneway which borders the site, will be activated by ground-level retail tenancies including a cafe.
Premium hotel-style end of trip cyclist facilities are being constructed, including parking for 300 bikes, showers, lockers and clothes drying facilities. Atop the new building section, a roof terrace will provide outdoor green space for workers.
Managing principal of HASSELL Melbourne Ingrid Bakker said that while there was no Green Star tool applicable to a building extension, 5 Star Green Star was still being used to benchmark design decisions for both the building and for the interior.
Ms Bakker said that HASSELL regarded sustainability as, “really an integrated part of what we do. We assume that’s what we are doing when we design – it is as important as windows, floors and doors.”
At 570 Bourke this included meeting with the services engineers early in the design process, use of high performance glazing, PVC minimisation, low VOC finishes, and maximising the benefits of the natural light and open floorplates in terms of the health benefits for end users.
Other sustainability measures in the new 570 Bourke include destination controlled lifts, which are more energy efficient than standard lifts and something HASSELL specifies across all the commercial projects the practice designs.
There has been careful consideration given to the right proportions between solid elements and clear elements to meet the requirements of the Building Code of Australia Section J for thermal performance, and in design terms, a gradated approach to transitioning the new facade and the existing building facade.
“The end-of-trip facilities are comparable to some of the best in the city. Tenants are interested in that,” Ms Bakker said.
“There is quite a lot of research around how workplaces can influence health and motivation, and how they can help companies attract and retain staff through workplace quality, including natural light and air quality.
“We are also trying to get the ground plane activated [with this project]. It is an island site, with laneways on both sides, so people can walk around it. The key is to activate the laneway culture with retail and have that permeate the block, which will invite people in and provide amenity for the tenants.”
The foyer features locally-sourced bluestone paving, for its “very Melbourne” aesthetic, travertine stone on walls and columns, as well as timber elements on the walls and lift lobbies for warmth and a unique lighting design like a “river of light”.
As the site is quite sloping, the cyclist entrance is on the first floor, and the end-of-trip facilities have been integrated into the foyer experience, which also includes a food and beverage offering to draw the people in.
The HASSELL interiors team which has been working on the project includes a staff member with a workplace strategy background, ensuring design decisions will result in workspaces which are effective and productive for end users, as well as attractive and healthy.
Ultimately, Ms Bakker said the project has been about raising the value of the building both in real terms and in terms of the benefits it offers.
“It is all about really adding value to an existing asset by transforming it,” Ms Bakker said.
“The workplaces that are successful are those that are connected. We have a lot of knowledge of what tenants want, and that’s activity-based working, and connectivity is key. The interesting thing is it is a very tenant-driven market, and smart developers are responding to those needs.”