Text description provided by the architects. Situated in the Kumutoto precinct on Wellington’s waterfront, the Meridian building is seamlessly integrated into the surrounding maritime environment, working with its neighbouring buildings to contribute to the character of the precinct, while also representing a strikingly distinctive and environmentally innovative architectural work in its own right.
In addition to the client’s desire for a flagship green building, at the forefront of sustainable design, the site’s prominent waterfront position meant that any structure located there would be highly visible on all faces, necessitating a particularly coherent form. The ground floor was also required to function as a fluid, lively extension of the public waterfront space, interconnecting with the surrounding paved areas and walkways.
The design of the final building, completed by Studio Pacific in association with Peddle Thorp architects, subtly translates elements from the heritage waterfront Sheds nearby into a contemporary register. The building is articulated as two separate forms: a smaller curved annex portion, sitting close to the existing Sheds in the precinct, with richly-coloured and textured external louvres to relate to the colours and textures of the surrounding built fabric, and a smooth, white rectangular pavilion facing seawards, with the upper floors cantilevered out to seemingly float lightly above the water. The visual weight and detail of the annex anchors the lightness of the pavilion. The top floor of the annex has been set back and sits like a lantern above the louvred screen, visually relating to the roof lights of the neighbouring Sheds, while the folding roof of the pavilion represents a modern interpretation of the varied roof forms of the sheds.
Award-winning for its commitment to sustainability, the building uses partially recycled cement in the structure, significantly reducing CO² emissions; it also features twin skin east and west facades, operable external shading to north and west and reduced glazing to the south façade. Within the building there is extensive exposed thermal mass, chilled beam technology and high efficiency light fittings, all contributing to a 60% lower energy consumption than a typical office building. A 70% reduction in water usage is also achieved through harvesting rainwater and using low flow fittings. All material selections are from sustainable sources wherever possible, have low embodied energy and are recyclable.