Text description provided by the architects. Located in the inner-Eastern Perth suburb of Welshpool, Sanwell's new headquarters presents a contemporary language whilst respecting the surrounding industrial precinct aesthetic, proposing a complex, sustainable solution to a constantly evolving and challenging client brief. The form seeks to explore the proposition of how a commercial office can sit harmoniously within a staunchly industrial context, while still providing visual connectivity to the surrounds and amenity to natural light. Aesthetically it functions as both an homage to and an updated form of the adjacent factory typology, utilizing the existing language and vernacular of the industrial, while re-imagining it as a visually permeable beacon of sustainability, amenity and future flexibility.
Through close collaboration with client, the bare-bones original project scope evolved to encompass a more complex and complete resolution to the extremely acute needs of the eventual users. This synergistic journey of both architect and client led to a radical re-imagining of the traditional tilt-up industrial office, resulting in a dynamic split level, cantilevered office structure wrapped in permeable aluminium brise soleil.
The duality of formal/informal space was explored through the large public breakout areas, encouraging chance encounter and socialization in the workplace. The generous open spaces ensure extensive customizability options for working spaces; a flexibility, which allows the office to adapt to suit the clients, needed in an ever-changing industry. The use of split-level planning allows natural light to permeate the entire interior, while also encouraging communication and visual connectivity. The prominent split-level form also combines with cantilevers to create usable, multipurpose spaces within the surrounding landscaping.
The design team worked closely with various specialty disciplines to achieve their rigid sustainability goals. Renewable Energy International was engaged to provide 100 solar panels, covering the roof of the offices and generating a total of 30kW. Gabriels Environmental Design were engaged for thermal and acoustic solutions, ensuring that the passive environmental design strategies were successful in providing maximum amenity for Sanwell staff.
Through a strong emphasis on flexibility and adaptability within the design, the Sanwell Office building’s projected lifespan has been dramatically increased. The deliberate provision for both changing technologies and business growth or restructuring have ensured that the building will maintain relevance and value, growing and changing with its occupants.
Due to the difficulty of the orientation, the facade is large composed of corrugated, perforated anodized metal sheeting. The sheeting reduces 70% of solar gain to the interior, yet retains the visual connectivity between office and exterior. Specifically chosen for it's long-life, lightweight and low maintenance properties, the permeable facade is punctuated by operable awning windows and louvres. These combine with high level openings, reverse brick veneer and an orientation deliberately chosen to maximize the regular cooling south-westerly breezes to give the office control over its passive heating and cooling. Additionally, this facade, along with the split-level planning, allows large levels of natural light to permeate the interior. For the remaining required lighting, low-energy LEDs were installed throughout the project.
Additional sustainability considerations were the on-site leach draining systems, allowing all waste to be disposed of on-site, while additional water is saved by the low-water trees and planting surrounding the building. The end of trip facilities and extensive bicycle parking encourage the occupants to adopt healthier, sustainable means of transport. The environmental credentials of materials were also central throughout the design process, such as the 150mm sandwich panel roofing, fully recyclable carpets, and consideration for low VOC materiality throughout.