A crystalline commercial building fit for the new knowledge economy is set to take pride of place in Cremorne, Victoria.
ICON Developments and architects Wood Marsh have gained development approval for the eight-level office building, with ground-floor retail, on a prime site on the corner of Balmain and Church streets.
Providing for 5,264 square metres of office space and 535 square metres of retail space as well as a rooftop terrace, the light-filled design takes its inspiration from the facets of a cut diamond or shattered ice, explains Wood Marsh director Roger Wood.
“The new business paradigm is one of transparency and shining light onto thinking and ideas. That’s what our design reflects. We were interested not only in the way light refracts through cut stones such as diamond but also in the strength of diamond, and that’s how we developed the facade.”
“What we’ve tried to do is craft the building with set-backs incrementally folding away from the street so it looks like a sculpted object. It has the muscularity of an industrial building but it also has the translucency of a cut diamond.”
The new building’s 600 Church Street site, previously occupied by the low rise Nuttelex warehouse, is a major landmark when coming towards the suburb from the Yarra River, and, according to Wood, deserved an architectural response of distinction.
“Cremorne is home to a number of impressive industrial buildings from a former era and we wanted to respond to that with a building that reflects contemporary design and the needs of today’s businesses,” Wood says.
Double glazed, reflective and highly rated for energy conservation, the articulated façade also provides better amenity for pedestrians, cyclists, and road and public transport users because it allows more light into the street.
Contributing to the overall amenity of the suburb is also a key aim of the building’s design. Located near the Monash Freeway, Cremorne is served by no less than three train stations and two tram lines and is adjacent to the Yarra Trail bike path – these factors have seen a number of innovative companies gravitate to the postcode in recent years.
“In Cremorne we see a lot of people using public transport, cycling or walking to work, and we wanted to make that experience enjoyable,” Wood says.
Inside the building, those users are catered to through innovative features such as a bicycle stacker that holds 100 bikes, plus exceptional end-of-trip facilities including showers and large changing rooms. This is in addition to basement parking for 71 cars.
The building’s other amenities include a rooftop garden so that people working in the building can have lunch in the open or socialise after work.
That rooftop level was recently a matter for the Victorian Civil and Appeals Tribunal, which overturned the City of Yarra’s modifications and approved Wood Marsh’s original design. For Wood, the VCAT decision sets an encouraging design precedent.
“VCAT recognised the architectural quality of the building. In an unprecedented move, the tribunal adjourned early and effectively ruled that the design deserved to go ahead without being tampered with,” Wood explains.
“It’s important to note that our appeal really was about the design: it’s not like we were trying to double the height of the building. Hopefully council sees that as a positive result and that if they get good quality architecture being brought forward then it should be supported.
“There are a lot of good architects in Melbourne and I think the outcome is encouraging for good quality architecture not just in Cremorne but throughout Melbourne.”
Developer ICON has been based in Cremorne for almost 20 years. Chief executive Ashley Murdoch says the new building will be a worthy addition to a suburb on the rise.
“As a hub for tech-focused companies and those in the creative industries, Cremorne needs more of the kind of thoughtfully designed commercial space we are putting forward here. Wood Marsh’s design is highly innovative and shows great integrity in the way it contrasts a contemporary response with the area’s industrial heritage,” Murdoch says.