The 41X building in Melbourne. Image: John Gollings

4 March 2014 — The Australian Institute of Architects has moved into its new Melbourne premises, the first strata title building in Australia to target carbon neutrality, and where tenants and owners are bound to a sustainability charter compelling them to work towards this goal.

The building’s carbon neutral aims will cover its 30-year operating cycle and take into account embodied energy, base building operational energy, transport and waste.

The 41X building, designed by Lyons Architecture, was opened on Monday by Governor-General Quentin Bryce, and has applied for a 5 Star Green Star Office Design v3 rating. It is also targeting a 5 Star NABERS base building rating.

The $31 million, 22-storey building occupies a tiny footprint with only a 285 square metre office floor plate on the corner of Exhibition Street and Flinders Lane in Melbourne’s CBD.

“41X successfully shows how private and not-for-profit organisations can have a positive impact on the development of our cities by creating world class, cutting-edge, environmentally responsible commercial buildings,” the Governor-General said.

Australian Institute of Architects’ fit out, by Hassell. Image: John Gollings

“This elegant addition to Melbourne’s CBD makes a bold statement about the value of design. With this building, the institute is strongly reinforcing the value of architects and architecture to the sustainable growth of our community – tangibly fulfilling its mission of ‘making the world a better place through architecture’.”

The sustainability charter

The building incorporates a sustainability charter meaning that owners and tenants will be required to work towards achieving the carbon neutral goal.

“We believe this is the first strata-titled commercial building in Australia that incorporates a sustainability charter binding owners and tenants to the goal of achieving carbon neutrality,” AIA chief executive David Parken said.

In 2006, the institute’s national council decided to redevelop the site into a small office tower that would set new standards in quality Australian commercial architecture.

In 2008 it held a two-stage design competition with Lyons winning the commission to design the building and Hassell selected to do the workplace fitout for the Institute’s five floors, reflecting the building’s sustainability ethos, the Institute said.

Other tenants include Sotheby’s Australia, which will occupy one floor with office space and another with a gallery; law firm Anzarut & Partners; Lion; and insurance firm Planned Cover with three floors.

The 41X building. Image: John Gollings

The ground floor houses the Architext bookshop, a dedicated seminar space and a cafe. The level will house a program of public events being developed by the Institute. End of trip facilities including bike racks and change rooms are in the basement, and the 19 office levels are topped by a rooftop terrace.

“The design explores the idea of joining together a public and commercial building, by connecting the city street space with Institute occupied levels,” said Lyons director Adrian Stanic.

“The project is unique in the Melbourne city commercial market, allowing owners or occupiers to create their own identity on small-footprint whole floors within the building, creating a distinctively vertical business community.”