Melburnians were given a treat this weekend, as 59 buildings around the city were opened to the public as part of Melbourne Open House 2010.
As far as Sustainable Architecture goes, the star attraction was Grocon’s Pixel Building – the first carbon neutral office building in Australia.
We took away 5 architectural lessons from the Pixel Building that you can apply to the Design + Build of your new home.
Pixel Building Melbourne: 5 architectural lessons to apply to your new home
Grocon’s Pixel Building is certainly about to create Sustainable Architecture history as it attempts to become the first carbon positive building in the world- generating more energy on site than it uses.
We were fortunate enough to be guided through and talked through the Pixel Building by Grocon’s Carlton Brewery Development Site Manager, Mr David Waldren *.
We left impressed and inspired and took away 5 architectural lessons from the Pixel Building that you too can apply to your Design + Build project.
1) Define the win
Amongst several other environmental sustainability goals, Pixel was expressly designed to generate more energy than it uses.
2) Commit to the vision
With such an audacious ‘win’ clearly defined, the challenge for Pixel’s designers was to ensure that all subsequent decisions were appropriately aligned. Already on a relatively small site commercially speaking, we found it noteworthy that valuable net lettable floorspace (usually one of the major determining factors in commercial building valuation) was sacrificed to allow for the pixel facade screening system and integrated ‘Living edge’ Reed Bed Irrigation/eave shading system.
3) Design for use
Pixel was designed not just for environmental ratings – but to be Grocon’s head office. As such, the use of office space and more specifically, the maximisation of office productivity was designed into the building from the start. One example was that the underfloor air ventilation system has strategically located adjustable vents – positioned exactly where people will sit once all the furniture is in place.
4) Dont forget the basics
Pixel has been designed to provide 100% daylight penetration into the office space, whilst allowing screen based technologies (laptops, computers, iphones etc) to be used without the need for blinds on windows.
5) Just give it a go!
With such high standards, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Pixel ‘has it all together’. As advanced as Pixel is however, the owners of Pixel openly admit that because this building is a first on so many fronts, there are areas that they simply can’t quantify the effectiveness of … yet.
One example of this is their innovative use of native, hyper local Australian plant species on their ‘living roof’. They simply do not know which species will perform best given the location, the lack of equivalent plant life in the immediate vicinity, the unpredictable Melbourne rainfall and the differing soil types available. What Pixel has cleverly done though, is setup 4 testbeds testing different species and soil types. In time, Pixel itself will reveal to the owners which combination works best.
* Special thanks to both Melbourne Open House and David Waldren of Grocon/Pixel Building for hosting a fantastic, inspirational weekend!
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Did you participate in Melbourne Open House 2010 this year? If so:
- Did you pick up additional sustainable architecture ideas that you’d like to share?
- Did you have further thoughts/comments/links from Melbourne Open House 2010?
- Further questions about sustainable architecture, design + build?
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