The new Commonwealth headquarters for the Australian Department of Finance are located at 1 Canberra Avenue - at the footsteps of the new Parliament House of Australia, adjacent to St. Paul’s Cathedral. Its form, massing and materials are respectful of their place within the national capital and will endure and continue to improve the surrounding public realm. It is a true exemplar of sustainable development and the modern public sector workplace.
A core central agency of the Commonwealth of Australia, The Department of Finance has a critical role in the functioning of Australia’s government, responsible for its budgetary and administrative control. Integral to the Department’s functioning is its ability to handle financial matters of the highest national security in areas of defence and national intelligence.
Willemsen had the unique opportunity to work alongside the Department to design and construct a new modern workplace to meet its functional requirements over a 20-year time frame and beyond. The process involved integrating more than five separate workplaces into one new campus style facility which would implement the objectives of its forward-looking Transformation Plan.
To support the Department’s operations, the workplace provides high availability, fully redundant services on a 24/7 basis, meeting the highest levels of the Commonwealth Government Protective Security Policy Framework.
The active heart of the building is a vast five storey central public atrium featuring a unique free standing helix stair with interconnecting aerial bridges - the design attributing to the DNA of the Department as a core part of the Commonwealth Public Service. An origami folded metal ceiling system supports a striking artistic lighting sculpture suspended in the large void.
Two independent wings provide up to 5,000 square metres of office space, with a 90% core to non-core ratio supported by a high visible light transmission facade and fully integrated task-based lighting.
1. modern workplace mobility and flexibility
2. efficient work point densities which substantially exceed current PRODAC requirements
3. equality of access for the disabled and mobility impaired
4. emerging information technology systems
5. environmental sustainability
6. continuity of operation through services redundancy
7. future services upgradability
8. minimised future tenant churn costs.
Particular attention has been given to Indoor Environment Quality, with the building’s outer fabric incorporating a dual layer air seal and high levels of passive insulation to minimise outside heat, cold and uncontrolled air intrusion. The central building management system intelligently monitors internal air temperature, humidity, and carbon dioxide content to determine when it is appropriate to use the outside environment to warm or cool the building.
Dynamic lighting control is provided through an intelligent lighting control system, which interconnects fittings with lux and movement sensors on a 5-core communications network. This system interrelates with work point-based task lighting to provide light levels optimised for each task rather than wasteful average illumination.
By harvesting rainwater from the 7,000 square metre roof area then storing it in 280,000 litres of underground storage and purifying it, the building is able to achieve a 5 star NABERS water rating whilst still irrigating an extensive surrounding landscape.
As simple as the idea of insulation and air sealing would appear, it is inherently complex and difficult to implement, requiring a high level of technical skill and design documentation, followed by rigorous monitoring during construction.
At Willemsen, our in-house design team and construction managers are attuned to this level of detail and experienced in its delivery, understanding the pivotal effect that air quality has on a building’s lifelong performance.
In the current generation of buildings, we strive for dual layer air sealing, double glazing and insulation of all exterior surfaces.
Our buildings incorporate complex BACnet building management systems that continuously monitor temperature, air velocity and humidity at multiple points in the building air cycle. They combine this information with carbon dioxide readings and outside air temperature to modulate services preferencing maximum filtered fresh air where outside conditions make it appropriate.
In our construction and facilities maintenance practices, we have detailed specifications implemented by our staff and contractors to control particulate matter, airborne microbials, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and formaldehyde.
Our buildings prioritise natural illumination (100% core office), employing lighting systems that are built to work with task-based lighting, providing energy efficient fine grained lighting control.
It is well recognised that natural light is essential for people to be able to function properly. Natural light leads to better performance, improving concentration levels and thereby boosting productivity. Light also has a positive impact on work satisfaction and sick-related absenteeism.
The simplest way to minimise total energy transfer is by reducing window openings as these are the most difficult and costly parts of the building to insulate. Aside from this, another imperfect resolution is to apply a dark tint to the windows to increase their SHGC (shading coefficient), but this has a substantial effect on visible light transfer which is a greater issue. Typically dark glass results in low natural light transmission and a reliance on artificial lighting, increasing tenant energy consumption and providing a poor-quality working environment.
At Willemsen our buildings are specified high efficiency vacuum spluttered triple silver coat low “E” glass, allowing floor-to-ceiling glazing with high visible light transmission and minimised energy transfer.
Designers at our core, we are passionate about light and shade its impact on the built environment. We prioritise functional performance in in everything we design, and the idea of wasteful illumination is contrary to our ethos.
Building standards are written with lux level requirements for various tasks such as inside movement, outside movement, administrative work and detailed work. The common design approach is to implement an average level of illumination. While simple in theory, this inevitably leads to over- or under-illumination and thereby energy waste.
Task-based lighting is integral to the design of each modern Willemsen building. We implement 5-core softwire network-addressable lighting looms with lux and motion sensing. These overhead systems have the capacity to work in harmony with task-based lighting at the work point.
Water falling on paved terraces and roofing structures is captured and fed through sediment filtration to underground storage tanks. This can be further filtered on demand and used for a variety of non-potable applications around the building.
To optimise the benefit of collected water, our buildings incorporate water-efficient, WELLS-rated appliances throughout with water-efficient irrigation systems. We avoid the use of evaporative cooling where possible.