Grocon has made a submission to the City of Yarra for a planning permit to develop the land around and above the existing Telephone Exchange in Wellington Street, Collingwood, to create a new campus office building with a particular focus on environmental and social sustainability objectives.
Designed by award winning, Collingwood designers, John Wardle Architects, the project integrates with the existing telephone exchange buildings, using the available area on the ground to create a new laneway and space for an office building of thirteen levels and companion five level café/ retail and meeting building.
Grocon Senior Design Manager Nellie O’Keeffe said “Collingwood is regarded as one of the most desirable urban renewal precincts in which to live and work in the Melbourne metropolis. When we briefed the design team we asked not just for a Melbourne building, but one that is every bit synonymous with Collingwood and choosing a Collingwood based practice was our first step. Large underutilised industrial and warehouse buildings are prevalent in the area, enjoying easy access to the CBD and close proximity to an abundance of amenities, including the Smith Street activity spine, the Victoria Parade and Hoddle Street transport corridors, schools, public transport and numerous recreation areas and parklands. All of these things will be important to the tenants who will be attracted to this building by what is on offer”.
Census figures indicate the municipality has undergone major population growth in recent years, with the cultural precinct of Collingwood earmarked to accommodate a significant portion of growth within the municipality. This growth in population has created a reciprocal demand for local employment and services to ensure the ever increasing residential population has the opportunity to live and work locally.
The site is bounded by Northumberland, Wellington and Glasgow Streets providing a signature opportunity to respond to the changing needs of the municipality. The proposal celebrates the municipality’s industrial past and local street pattern through the design of a campus of built forms with a diversity of scale, grain and architectural finishes. The main building is generously set back from Wellington Street, enabling the proposal’s introduction of a new laneway to generate new public space, activity and relief at the ground plane. The language of diversity across scale, grain and finish is developed further through the low rise ‘Companion Building’, with its saw tooth southern window fronting Wellington and Northumberland Streets reflective of Collingwood’s industrial past. This architectural design and layout has provided a new approach to the urban opportunities on the site and the development breathes new life into an otherwise inactive site that is part of a mixed use area undergoing significant change.
The zoning of the site as Commercial 2 Zone (C2Z) encourages offices, appropriate manufacturing and industries, retail uses and associated business and commercial services, while prohibiting the use of the land for residential purposes. The proposed campus office arrangement proposed by Grocon contributes to the advancement of a number of strategic objectives advocated at a state and local planning policy level.
Looked at through the lens of some Grocon’s core values, in this case innovation, community and sustainability, the project adopts a raft of initiatives beyond the usual approach to commercial development to best embed the project into the local environment.
Grocon Assistant Development Manager Angie Darby noted that “we are a leader in sustainability and Northumberland will be the next step on Grocon’s journey to buildings and places that appropriately respond to sustainability challenges and opportunities. At Northumberland, we’re committed to industry?leading ESD initiatives to create a benchmark development not only for Collingwood but also for Australia and internationally”. Northumberland targets to achieve; a 6 Star rating under the GBCA’s new GreenStar Design and As?
Built v1.1 rating scheme, to be amongst the first Australian buildings to achieve certification under the International WELL Building Institute’s WELL Building Standard, alongside achieving a 5 Star rating under NABERS Office Energy and exceeding a 4 Star rating under NABERS Office Water.
The Homes for Homes initiative of the Big Issue Homes is a voluntary scheme established by The Big Issue, through which homeowners contribute a small portion of the property price when a property is sold. Grocon has already committed that all of its residential projects will embed this scheme (which began at Swanston Square and now includes Bouverie Apartments and 85 Spring Street). According to Angie, “Northumberland has provided the opportunity to extend Grocon’s support for Homes for Homes by seeking to be one of the first commercial buildings to contribute to The Big Issue’s initiative in Australia”. The tenant agreements at Northumberland provide for 1 tenth of 1% of the annual office rent to be paid into the fund established by Homes for Homes to create new social and affordable housing. The funds raised by this scheme will be used to build, refurbish and manage affordable social accommodation for low income and homeless people in Australia and, in the case of funds raised in Victoria those supported projects will be located in Victoria.
In line with the usual approach to well considered commercial developments Northumberland will have a large end of trip facility to be used by cyclists and others who exercise during the day to have storage and shower/ change facilities at work. However these facilities are usually only busy during the early mornings as staff arrive, at lunch hour when exercise is in full swing and at the end of the day as staff depart meaning that a significant resource is available during the mid?morning and midafternoon. Grocon has designed the facilities at Northumberland in partnership with Launch Housing to create amenities that are suitable not only for supporting the building’s commercial tenants, but also for providing high quality, clean and safely managed shower and change facilities for people who are homeless or sleeping rough in the Collingwood area. The change facilities will be managed by Launch when staff use is typically minimal, for the sole use of people who need a hand. The facilities are envisaged as a respectful offer to support people who are homeless maintaining their comfort and dignity while sorting out their housing crisis.
We are excited by the possibilities of this exemplar development that sets a new benchmark in urban infill and sustainable design. It is an extension of the thinking implemented at our recently completed 6 star Green Star development at 480 Queen Street in Brisbane where a large public park features within the new commercial building at level 4 and where the mix of uses includes commercial offices, child care, a range of food and beverage tenancies and a roof?top tree grove. O’Keeffe summarised the approach, “Northumberland is a carefully considered and contextually responsive development that brings activation and public engagement to an otherwise under?utilised site on the edge of the city. We’ve applied a holistic approach to sustainability that considers not just the built environment, but also the health and wellbeing of the people who work in the building and social sustainability through community initiatives with Homes for Homes and Launch Housing”.