The recently opened Bastow Institute of Educational Leadership in inner-suburban Melbourne, designed by Maddison Architects for Victoria’s Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD): a learning environment providing workshops and courses for the next generation of serving and aspiring school principals and teachers in leadership roles.
The four-year development included the refurbishment of an existing, heritage-listed school building, combined with elaborate new additions and extensions. The completed three-level building covers an area of 1,500 square metres, approximately double the area of the original school building.
“The building is all about connectivity and preparing educational leaders for new ways of learning. In terms of AV [audiovisual] the building is very rich, so we can stream out to all schools across Victoria from the facility. All the rooms talk to each other; there are recording capabilities in most rooms, editing capabilities, as well as high-speed internet functions to connect with similar institutions overseas,” says Drew Carling, Associate Director at Maddison Architects.
The facility features an expansive glass facade, rich timber paneling, concrete, composite cladding – all chosen to offer a consistent and “pared back” aesthetic to integrate indoor-outdoor zones.
“The outside materials become the inside materials, and the use of glass, is all about getting as much transparency as possible using technology available today to allow the outside in – an external learning space is an important part of what we’ve provided.”
One of the most striking visual examples of this open design is an upper-level cantilevered space designed for reflection and conversation. Comprising a double glazed facade (on southeast and northeast-facing sides; the west-facing wall is solid), Carling says massive IGU’s up to 4,000mm high and almost 1,400mm wide were selected to minimize visual clutter and enhance a sense of solidity and linear simplicity.
The outward inclining IGU’s include an outer skin of 13.52 Viridian SuperGreen™ toughened laminate, 12mm argon spacing, and an internal skin of 6mm clear toughened laminate. The inward inclining IGU’s repeat these specifications, but in reverse. The result is surprisingly ecclesiastical, with the imposing inclined glass panels reaching skywards with the sharp pitch of a cathedral roofline.
Most new spaces of the building feature similar irregular geometries in their layout and fitout, reinforcing an indoor-outdoor symmetry. Nowhere is this better demonstrated than in the choice of black composite cladding for both internal wall linings and fixed external shading panels.
The shading panels, perforated with lopsided arrowhead cutouts, take their design cue from the original polychromatic brickwork of the bell tower. This reference is yet another subtle connector of old and new sensibilities, while also providing vital privacy and thermal protection to the already effective IGU’s, which have highly efficient U-Values of only 2.1.
Cleaning systems, were taken into account from the earliest design stages, involving the lowering of cleaning professionals from fixed points. While the external shade panels provide a shield against direct glare, day-lighting remains an important function of the expansive glass façades.
Indeed, natural lighting forms an essential part of the overall design, providing practical soft illumination of much of the internal space over multiple levels, while strengthening the overall theme of ‘transparent learning’. The theme continues inside with the extensive use of glass balustrades, most notably on stairwells.
Few institutional buildings in Victoria marry functionality with form as effectively as the Bastow Institute, which lives up to its charter to act as a physical embodiment of – and venue for – enjoyable learning.
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The new Olivia Newton-John Cancer & Wellness Centre, an eight-level complex adjoining the Austin Hospital in the Melbourne suburb of Heidelberg, represents a new design philosophy in healthcare architecture, focusing on patient welfare as much as clinical practicalities.
This $200 million centre is unique in Australian healthcare facilities as it has been specially designed as a holistically responsive design and solution to the varied and intricate facets of cancer care. The centre is a bustling, bright public place occupied by scores of inpatients, visitors, clinicians, researchers and staff from numerous allied professions.
With its great diversity of clients and guests, many of whom face significant anxiety and stress, the physicality of the building plays a key role in shaping the mood and wellbeing of all people who use it.
“Most hospitals are designed for clinicians; this building, I feel, has been designed for patients. There are two elements to the aesthetics. First, the need to create a ‘signature’ building that would marry well with the design of the adjoining Austin Hospital, while maintaining its own points of difference. Secondly, the façade curves are there to make it feel quite approachable and, to use an old fashioned term, quite feminine. Traditional old healthcare buildings are rectilinear hospitals, so this softer curved modeling goes against the grain,” explains Alex Stephanou, Senior Associate at Jackson Architecture.
Given the centre’s imposing status in a geographically lofty part of Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, it was particularly important to make sure the façade conveyed a message of welcoming warmth, confidence and professionalism. Stephanou says Olivia Newton-John herself was appreciative of the spiritual harmony engendered by the building.
“When we went to an upper balcony she took a deep breath and said, ‘Alex, if you are going to die anywhere, this is not a bad place to die.’ It has that feeling about it.”
The architectural design team, working in concert with principal glass supplier Viridian and ESD consultant Advanced Environmental, opted to use a unique mix of high-performance glass and glazing products to satisfy site-specific aesthetic and comfort considerations, as well as ambitious thermal efficiency targets.
This was achieved using not one, but two colour palettes in each of the facade’s 800-odd double glazed units (also known as insulated glazing units, or IGU’s) – a highly unusual specification. Con Kantis, Viridian’s Architectural Segment Manager, says the final configuration of external glass panels – 6mm EVantage™ SuperGreen, a 12mm gap, and inner glass panels of 6.38mm laminated VLam™ CoolBlue – created a perfect balance of light transmission, reduced glare and thermal insulation.
“The challenge was to provide a good light level and still satisfy the solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC). Through modeling we found that by combining a product such as EVantage™ SuperGreen with a VLam™ CoolBlue laminated glass, we could reach our solar performance requirements while still achieving minimum light transmission targets,” Kantis says.
Some perimeter rooms feature opaque walls for the sake of privacy – a challenge when trying to present glass panels of uniform appearance.
“We had to create some custom ‘block-out’ IGU’s that appeared the same as the other panels, but provided full privacy. We did it by combining the EVantage™ SuperGreen on the outside with a custom Seraphic colour (“Heavenly”) on the inside. This Seraphic colour gives a greeny-blue appearance from the inside but you can’t see through it. And externally there is the right colour match.”
Viridian worked with the architects and the glazing contractor to devise a cost-effective structurally glazed corner intersection detail, affecting some 250 IGU’s, which was an architectural aesthetic requirement. All the EVantage™ SuperGreen glass used in the IGU’s was heat-soaked. At the time of original specification, this treatment was not a mandatory BCA requirement (it has since become compulsory to minimise the incidence of instantaneous breakage due to nickel sulphide impurities). By pre-empting the introduction of this higher level of specification, the building was able to satisfy today’s safety guidelines without the need for costly IGU revisions mid-construction.
Aiming For Perfection Stephanou says the high-performance façade was intrinsic to the efficiency of the entire building, which is currently in the final stages of Green Star assessment. He notes supporting elements such as fixed (50% visually permeable) shading fins on five of the building’s eight levels, which provide additional protection against unwanted glare, while preserving a high level of visibility for occupants. The structure has been planned as a horseshoe shape enveloping a central water garden, which creates a feeling of connectedness with nature while maximising day lighting on all levels.
With its inspired double glazing solutions, open design and focus on achieving patient comfort through the use of premium materials, the Olivia Newton-John Cancer & Wellness Centre not only satisfies an exhaustive list of efficiency criteria, but it also meets more subjective goals, such as offering a sense of sanctuary to people in difficult circumstances. Register your email address (above right) to receive email notifications for future GlassTalks articles.
Brent Knoll House in central Victoria, nestled alongside an 1850s homestead, seemingly grows out of the landscape. North Melbourne’s – March Studio, designed the single-level, zigzag-shaped dwelling set on a large-acreage farm in central Victoria. The result demonstrates how thoughtful design can capture the essence of a local topography while harnessing the superior performance benefits of concrete, steel and glass, and highlights that a ‘natural’ design is not only possible with agrarian stones and timbers.
The brief for the project, which was an entrant in last year’s Viridian Vision Awards (Residential Creative Interior Glass Application/Residential Energy Efficient Glass Design), initially involved a large extension to the existing homestead – but it quickly became apparent that a separate structure would deliver superior results.
Architect Rodney Eggleston, from March Studio’s, says that once the idea of a separate structure took hold, it quickly offered an exciting range of possibilities. The old homestead changed status to a guesthouse, and the new structure continued the custom of adding separate, self-contained structures and outbuildings to the property. The obvious challenge, Rodney says, was to design a contemporary, minimalist new house that would fit comfortably alongside a 150-year-old homestead.
“We didn’t want to recreate an ‘old architecture’. Disconnecting the two buildings gave us the freedom to do something new and different. Then it was all about contrasting the homestead against the new dwelling. We also looked at the geometry of the old building, which was essentially walls veiled by an enormous gabled roof, and we were interested in the idea of protection, being on the farm, and realizing that the roof was the biggest architectural statement of the old house,” Rodney explains.
Using the visual dominance of the homestead’s roof as a cue for the new structure’s design, Rodney says he decided to design the new house with an equally imposing roof extending seamlessly out from its walls with large cantilevered eaves. The entire roof has a delicate pitch drifting from a soaring northeastern elevation to a lower westerly point, where the plunging roofline suggests a visual union with the ground.
“It was all about taking the new roof and, in the same way that the old gabled roof is folded around the homestead, making it twist and fold and push into the ground to give a sense of reference to the old, but also to make it something totally different and new. And that’s where the glass comes in. The client expressed a desire to be connected with the landscape – they did actually say at one stage they wanted it to be a glass box. The roof becomes a parasail that floats above a glass box, so to speak, delivering uninterrupted views and a connection back to the land.”
Clean Lines, Multiple Uses
The use of glass facades and deep eaves also required some thoughtful geometry, most notably in relation to summertime shading and the use of sunlight to provide thermal warmth in winter.
“There has to be an angle of 18 degrees from the bottom of the window to the fascia line. So long as you maintain that angle you get the protection in the hotter months but, most critically, you allow the sun to come in during winter. Even though we did put in air-conditioning units the clients don’t turn them on except on the very hottest days. And in winter they are pretty well serviced just with the thermal energy arising from the use of glass.”
The entire new house features floor-to-ceiling double glazed systems in steel frames, which were custom-made. The use of steel minimised the bulk of metal framework while permitting the placement of large panels up to 2400 x 1200mm in size. Almost half of the facade consists of sliding panels equipped with minimalist door furnishings in an attempt to preserve the clean, crisp lines of the roofline and window framing.
The glass façade has another important benefit – it is the perfect design for capturing ambient light – a feature brilliantly enhanced through the use of an unpainted pressed metal ceiling. Evoking thematic links to the homestead, the scalloped pressed metal – an icon of Victorian architectural design – retains a contemporary feel due to its raw aluminium finish. Ambient light reflected off the ceiling gives the entire house a soft and natural appearance; meantime, horizontal internal beams (at a height of 2200mm) are equipped with recessed upward-facing globes, which also reflect light off the ceiling and offer the same softness to artificial lighting.
The absence of ceiling-mounted light fittings helps maintain the clean lines of the roof and window systems, while seemingly lifting the entire structure from the land with a grace made possible by high-quality materials, a bold appreciation of the visual and practical merits of expansive glazing, and sensitivity to linear form.
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Six Degrees Architects, were the creators for the home of My Mexican Cousin (Restaurant and Bar), next to Melbourne’s Recital Centre. Although the Centre was completed back in 2008, budget pressures led to the temporary abandonment of the prospective dining area next door.
“After finishing the building, they decided to wall off the dining area and leave it. When we went in, we found a marvellous space with a huge volume. We inherited a rough shell, which looked like a page out of a coffee table book featuring derelict Eastern European industrial buildings. We had quite a modest h, in strategic terms, dealing with such a big, open volume was a tonne of work,” says Mark Healy, a Director at Six Degrees Architects.
The architects immediately recognised its potential. Rather than constructing an elaborate, self-contained façade within the cavernous existing shell, the team decided to work more subtly with the space.
“Although the entire interior was grey and exposed, the space still had a nice feel and aesthetic. All the work we did within the building took its existing height into account, while leaving all existing services exposed. We tried to insert some inviting textures into the space, to add appeal to the surfaces that people are going to touch and engage with. We could have constructed a smaller compartment within the building by dropping in false ceilings and things like that.”
Rather than closing the space off from the building’s shell, the architects decided to thoroughly integrate the building’s existing design. The north-facing window presented the architects with an opportunity to keep the light moving throughout the venue, right from the morning until the early evening.
One of the building’s most instantly definable features is its striking glazed façade, which skilfully transports the artisan glasswork featured in many of Melbourne’s Victorian-era pubs to a modern context.
“We installed a hybrid of stained glass, old industrial glass, and modern, double-glazed, low-E (Viridian EVantage) glass, all working in concert. At Six Degrees, we’ve been mixing and playing with different glass types for a long time. Luckily, some of the old glass types we love are still available from Viridian – like the Georgian wire cast (DecorPattern Squarelite). We mixed industrial glass with very old, beautiful German hand-blown pieces. As a result, the design appeals to a lot of different people.”
As the street receives heavy pedestrian traffic, the façade needed to provide patrons with an extensive street outlook, without making them feel like goldfish in a bowl. The restaurant needed a design that would inform passers-by that there’s something exciting going on inside.
“Often, you won’t be given much choice as to where you’re going to sit, as My Mexican Cousin is a busy place. That means you can’t solely design it for an extrovert – or an introvert, for that matter. That’s why we didn’t want a big clear façade smothered in advertising. Our façade slightly obscures the interior, hinting at what’s within while providing a sense of movement. The glasswork really helped us create a sense of ambiguity, even mystery, about the place.”
In addition to its aesthetic impact, the glazing used in the restaurant’s façade has been selected for environmental efficiency. The door, for example, contains a mix of Viridian Low-E laminate and stained glass.
“In terms of code requirements, you’ve got to have double glazing or protection when you’re a certain distance from an operable door. The very small, thin panes of glass in the door are single glazed, because of the inherent difficulties glazing against stained glass.”
Patrons of My Mexican Cousin will immediately notice the overhead bar unit, a striking blue stained glass piece.
“That was done by the same glass artist as the façade, Tony Hall, who’s amazing. There’s a fascinating mixture of louvered glass, stained glass, laminated and toughened. The ceiling’s very high, so we left all the concrete panels there. As a result, the kitchen’s palette moves from heavy industrial up the top, to delicate warm glass down below.”
The interior’s many striking individual elements reflect the architect’s unique vision. The meticulous attention to detail sets My Mexican Cousin well apart from the standard crop of restaurants, making it an unmissable entry in Melbourne’s vibrant dining scene.
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Mount Gambier’s Main Corner is the new centrepiece of the picturesque South Australian city. The development, designed by Chapman Herbert Architects and supplied and installed by Viridian Mount Gambier, blends into its heritage surroundings while making a bold contemporary statement.
The architects’ main intention was to manage the juxtaposition of new versus old. With admirable ambition, Chapman Herbert Architects designed the building to resemble a Cenote, described by Stephen as a cave formed by dissolution of limestone. The new building’s incorporation of this natural formation pays respect to Mount Gambier’s unique surroundings.
As Stephen points out, “the Cenote cave wall is more than an abstract geological representation. Mount Gambier is known as a city built around a cave. Behind this building is a hole in the ground – the Cenote, or sinkhole – where the town’s fresh water supply used to be gathered. We’ve opened the site right up, to reveal this to visitors.”
To reflect public demand, a large proportion of the Main Corner site is devoted to gardens and open spaces. This optimistic outlook is an essential component of the building’s success.
“We’ve created open spaces and encouraged a visual appreciation of the Cape Gardens Precinct. Mount Gambier was settled in 1860. Every other city has a major square – and a piazza or plaza – but the people have always dubbed this the main corner because it’s the crucible of where everything happens in town.”
The new building’s advanced glazing serves a variety of purposes by pulling together the new Cenote structure with the historical façades. The use of glass as a visual medium, reflects the existing buildings, rather than creating a clash.
“There is a printed glass canopy at the main point of entry, which provides shelter and shade without darkening, while creating a smooth transition from outside to inside. Any entries and glazing inside the building are clear glass, so there are no reflective surfaces.”
Main Corner’s glazing also plays a starring role in energy efficiency. The glazing had to be of extremely high quality and transparency to let light in, while allowing heat in or out as required. The types of glass used in the construction are therefore of immense importance. Passive solar design was deftly employed to complement the glass’s insulating properties.
Due to a quirk in Mount Gambier’s layout, the entire building plan had to be shifted to take full advantage of the winter sun. The building’s insulation from the elements was dramatically improved with the striking greenery-covered western façade – a technique far more common overseas than it is in Australia. The living green wall, which is suspended from the glass, unobtrusively shelters the building’s glass façade while adding colour, texture and climate control.
“The western façade is cooled by trickling water in summer, which cuts the glass temperature by around 5 degrees. Working with the architectural team early in the design stage contributed to positive outcomes and without a doubt, a quality job. Our technical advice on the glass specifications and overall glazing systems ensured superior energy performance was achieved, energy regulations met, and given the volume of glass, this was quite a feat. The 32 metre span of skylight surface area was absolutely flat. We installed 35 double glazed units, running the entire length of the building. The curtain wall housed an expanse of 37 glass panels, in various sizes over 2 elevations, installed between six enormous steel beams. The heritage constraints and complexities of the project introduced many challenges, but nothing we couldn’t overcome. The collective knowledge and experience of our team nationally is hard to beat,” says Peter Allen, Centre Manager at Viridian Mt Gambier.
Combining a deep respect for the city’s heritage with advanced glazing technology, the Main Corner project provides the historical city of Mount Gambier with the bustling, stylish and sustainable hub that it richly deserves.
When designing the Austral Bowling Club redevelopment in Sydney’s Edmondson Avenue, Richard Salman at 2RKS Architecture thought big.
“The gaming terrace is only Stage 1 of our 4-stage master plan,” he says. “Our design serves the brief’s initial requirements, while embracing an overarching vision that would amalgamate with future stages.”
The overall modifications are substantial; once completed, the bowling club will be three times its current size. A project of this scale required a delicate building and design process, with the original building becoming more of a backdrop as each subsequent stage is added.
“The original 1970s building has a very robust structure. Utilising this helped us ensure that the venue remains fully operational during the construction process.”
The L-shaped addition comprises a new spectator stand and external gaming terrace. A striking louvre wall spans the terrace’s entire length, featuring extensive use of Viridian SuperBlueTM glazing.
“The SuperBlueTM low-E glazing offers a significant advantage in terms of thermal requirements and energy performance. It was instrumental in helping us achieve our environmental requirements for the project.”
As a focal point of the building, the glazing makes a dramatic visual statement. Opting for SuperBlueTM enabled the architect to employ a more modern palette of cool blues and greys. The balustrading is another area which showcases the merits of SuperBlueTM.
“Although the balustrade glazing looks identical to that on the louvre system, it’s completely different. It had to withstand horizontal impact, as required by the building code of Australia.”
However, using 12mm SuperBlueTM on the balustrading wasn’t an option.
“In that thickness, SuperBlueTM would have been too blue – which is why we only used 6mm for the louvre system. Also, due to the increased horizontal strength requirements, 6mm would have been structurally insufficient for a laminated balustrade. We took 6mm SuperBlueTM and laminated it to a 6mm clear glass. That gave us the thickness and rigidity we needed to meet the code – but as the clear glass backing made it ultra-transparent, it didn’t reflect or refract any unwanted effects onto the external SuperBlueTM glass. At the spectator stand, people will be sitting on the benches and looking through the glass to the other bowling games below. We therefore wanted to avoid making it too dark for spectators who wished to view events in a seated position.”
The stringent airflow regulations presented another logistical hurdle. NSW health regulations require free flow of air throughout the addition. At least 25% of the floor area must be devoted to ventilation.
“To achieve this, we split the terrace into three different areas to ensure air entered the space via multiple directions. We considered the issue in terms of horizontal and vertical airflow: the two roof cupolas allow vertical ventilation (accentuated by fans) to pull smoky air out of the building towards the middle.”
These are complemented by fully openable Safetyline Jalousie louvre windows, which stretch right along the periphery. This extensive glazing system is complemented by a strip of open air, which runs the length just below the roofline, with only a single cable running through the air gap to keep birds out. Even with such a thorough and effective ventilation system, the entire area is amply sheltered by the terrace’s substantial projecting eaves. The high environmental sustainability requirements were an added challenge.
To resolve this, it was decided to incorporate a CBUS, which enables computerised control of lighting, building mechanics and air conditioning. The CBUS unobtrusively reduces the building’s carbon footprint, while overseeing crucial aspects such as public safety and security lighting.
Added to these environmental and structural challenges was a difficult design restriction: people had to be able to walk underneath the entire structure. To allow this to happen, the height had to be increased by around 450mm. The raised section was aligned with a new platform for the spectator stand, and integrated it with the rest of the club via a ramp and steps – a solution which proved successful from both a gaming and a pedestrian viewpoint.
To preserve the building’s visual integrity, all materials were chosen with simplicity in mind. The formed concrete was painted white to form a bold backdrop, with Dulux feature strips used along the length of the spectator stand below to accentuate the masonry areas.
“The roof tensile structures were also important. They contribute to the concrete’s streamlined whiteness, and shade the custom-made benches and tables below.”
These are made from jarrah hardwood and structural steel, accentuating the building’s classic look. Combined, these touches give the building a contemporary feel. With its careful balance between tradition and innovation, the new building caters for existing members while serving the club’s newer and younger clientele.