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AIA HQ A SHOWCASE FOR PRECAST

The angular precast concrete fins of 41X.

FEATURING PRECAST CONCRETE MANUFACTURED BY NATIONAL PRECAST MEMBER EURO PRECAST, THE STRIKING NEW NATIONAL OFFICE FOR THE AUSTRALIAN INSTITUTE OF ARCHITECTS (AIA), 41X IS HELPING DRIVE INTEREST IN ARCHITECTURE USING OFFSITE MANUFACTURING METHODS.

Located on a pocket-sized 285m2 allotment on the corner of Exhibition Street and Flinders Lane, 41X is a 22-storey tower and a hub for architecture, AIA staff, and the general public.

The building was the subject of a two-stage design competition held by the Institute’s National Council and won by Lyons Architecture in 2008, then completed six years later in 2014.

DESIGN MEETS SUSTAINABILITY
According to Director of Lyons, Adrian Stanic, when embarking on the design journey, the focus was on creating a hybridised public and commercial space with extensive sustainability benefits. Lyons Architecture’s innovative proposal to create a sustainable public building that encompassed the city’s traditional stone and masonry aesthetic with a sculptured exterior is what ultimately won them the contract to design the headquarters for Australia’s leading architectural body.

“The brief of the project was to create an exemplar stratatitled building from both a design and sustainability point of view,” says Stanic.

“We wanted the building to have a fantastic engagement with Melbourne city and its people, and to help the Institute and broader design community engage with the public. We wanted the Institute to feel approachable.”

A HYBRID PUBLIC-COMMERCIAL DESIGN
The design explores the idea of joining together a public and commercial building, by connecting the city street space with the AIA, which occupies the lower levels of the tower. Cantilevered higher levels allow wider footpath space at the base of the building, while a strategically placed publiclyaccessible stairway and public perimeter seating merge the public street with the entrance of the institute.

Aside from its aesthetic impact, the use of precast minimised onsite material and labour.

The building’s facade features angular precast concrete fins as a reference to the chiselled masonry aesthetic of Melbourne’s public buildings. Defining a rugged exterior, several of the fins have been strategically cut away to make room for the elevated public spaces that are highlighted with bright green soffits.

PRECAST PERMANENCE WITH TRANSPARENCY
A hybrid public-commercial space was explored by contrasting the permanence and weight of heavy stone-like materials with corporate transparency.

“An idea that has been around for thousands of years is the idea of how stone and masonry is used to signify permanence in public buildings,” says Stanic. “They tend to have a significance that often can relate to the public domain.”

“An idea that has been around for thousands of years is the idea of how stone and masonry is used to signify permanence in public buildings. They tend to have a significance that often can relate to the public domain.”
Adrian Stanic, Director – Lyons.

The success of this architectural vision relied heavily upon the use of precast concrete, a product that has allowed the building to be as extravagant as it is durable. Proper design detailing combined with precast’s high-quality manufacturing process allowed Lyons to make its mark for generations to come, through what is a timeless contribution to the city.

OFFSITE MANUFACTURE ENABLES CONSTRUCTION EFFICIENCIES
As well as accommodating the architectural design, precast concrete delivered construction efficiencies that were imperative for smooth operations in a congested city location.

Euro Precast was contracted to manufacture a variety of prefabricated concrete elements for the project including fins for the east and west façades, external façade panels to the north, and internal lift, stair and service room panels. As well, 84 horizontal sunshades, 133 columns, and 6,200m2 of BubbleDeck flooring across 230 decks were manufactured by the precaster.

Euro Precast’s Director, George Spiropoulos, says the use of precast concrete minimised onsite material and labour.

“BubbleDeck precast floor panels and precast concrete columns reduced the need for formwork and maximised construction efficiency,” he says. “Unique external precast concrete panels of complex geometry were integrated with high performance glazing as part of a complete energy efficient facade system.”

CARBON NEUTRALITY WITH 5 STAR RATINGS
The architectural brief employed a range of sustainability initiatives that accounted for embodied energy, base building operational energy, transport, and waste. Striving to achieve carbon neutrality, Lyons joined forces with AECOM to develop solutions that took a holistic approach the building’s carbon cycle.

Designed to achieve a net zero carbon footprint over its 30-year operating cycle, 41X is one of the first strata-titled commercial office buildings in Melbourne to target carbon neutrality.

With 5-star Green Star and 5-Star NABERS Energy ratings, 41X exemplifies how structures can have a positive impact on the development of cities through environmentally responsible buildings.■

Sarah Bachmann, National Precast CEO


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