Page 1

Project Profile: Centrelink NSO

Centrelink NSO By Dan Stojanovich

The “green imperative” is changing the whole approach to designing and constructing all sorts of buildings. For office buildings for both government and commercial clients, green is the new black.


t starts with the overall design concept and goes right through to even tenancy lease restrictions that define what tenants can and cannot do within their own tenancies in order to achieve “green” performance. Green considerations can affect everything…

Conceptualisation & Design

The new office accommodation for the Centrelink NSO (National Support Office) building in Canberra had to set a few standards. It targeted and has achieved a 4.5 star ABGR rating. Set on a 5.4 hectare greenfield site in Tuggeranong, the $130 million building provides some 50,000m2 of gross floor area for

38 | Award Magazine

approximately 2,800 employees, many of whom had been accommodated in sub standard buildings around the city, many of which did not meet Commonwealth environmental standards, particularly with regard to energy consumption. Occupants are increasingly seeking out greener buildings, because they can deliver a range of advantages such as financial benefits through direct operational savings, healthier workplaces, increased productivity and recruitment and marketing opportunities. The complex essentially comprises two separate medium rise rectangular buildings, each some 180m long , on either side of a 6-level glass atrium which runs the length of the buildings and faces north. The buildings share a common single level basement that runs under the atrium as well the two buildings, and there is also an access tunnel underneath the building that provides access to all lifts and service risers without affecting occupants. Construction of the office buildings commenced in September 2005, and was completed in July 2007. As well as being the most striking visual feature and the iconic architectural statement for the complex, the atrium is the social focus of the development and the core common activity centre where occupants can interact. Shaded by louvres, the atrium can be accessed by staff by way of breakout spaces, meeting rooms and cafes. The atrium was the most challenging part of the project for builder Brookfield Multiplex, largely because of its size, and because it was also one of the most expensive features of the project. Canberra’s hot summers and cold winters also presented numerous special challenges, with particular attention required to ensure careful control of both structural movement and thermal transfer within the building and between the exterior and interior.

Image courtesy of Brookfield Multiplex

Environmental Sustainable Design

As well as the ESD (Environmentally Sustainable Design) issues, one of key design considerations to be taken into account by GSA Architects was the nature of the workforce occupying the building. Exceptional flexibility was required, as the organisation has a high staff churn rate of some 110% per annum. This was addressed in various ways, including providing a flexible floor plate and designing building services in such a way as to accommodate frequent and significant changes. Some of the requirements for occupants were quite particular, and included such elements as office accommodation for Senior Executive Service (SES) officers, including a dedicated executive area; openplan office accommodation for other staff; touch down and hot desk points; shared storage, resource and photocopier/printer rooms; auditorium and multi-purpose briefing area; meeting, focus, break-out and tea rooms; carers’ rooms, first aid rooms and a prayer room; café, kiosk, health and fitness centre, showers, lockers and bicycle racks among other requirements. Bassett Consulting Engineers (Part of AECOM) was the environmental consultant and provided conceptual design and energy modeling services as well as advice on how the client’s brief could actually be achieved in the built form and still achieve the required AGBR rating. The building envelope helped achieve this performance and addresses sustainability issues of longevity, minimal maintenance and resource efficiency. Precast concrete structural panels, shaded double-glazed (low-E) windows to the north, east and west elevations and insulated cladding panels were the major wall elements. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning was especially challenging for this large and complex volume with a multiplicity of

demands and access points. The 6 level glass atrium, the project’s centre piece, required a constant temperature throughout. Hastie Air Conditioning, which has been working in the area since 1970, was on the job from the early conceptual stage right through to testing, commissioning and hand over. Thermal performance was achieved via air spaces, bulk insulation and specialised double-sided insulation material. Floor slabs are insulated for two metres inside the external walls to minimise thermal bridging. Further innovations included radiant chilled ceilings and swirl diffusion. The building’s ductwork design was based on a low temperature VAV system, and low temperature VAV air conditioning is provided to office areas. High level chilled ceiling panels, low-level heated slabs, and displacement systems maintain comfort in the non-conditioned atrium space. Hot water is provided by roof-mounted gas-boosted solar water heaters.


Careful selection of fittings, furniture and finishes was important to achieve the required internal environmental quality. Low VOC Onterra carpet tiles which facilitate re-use and local replacement, were used throughout. Timber veneers from sustainable sources were used in the breakout areas. General lighting to supplement daylight was provided by T5 fluorescent fittings (dimmable) controlled by proximity switching devices (photoelectric cells and motion detectors). External fire stairs were largely daylit. Total building energy consumption is managed by a sophisticated BMS (Building Management System), which alerts facilities personnel by alarm when consumption exceeds design levels. All greywater (kitchen, hand basins, showers) is collected, treated and re-used for toilet flushing. All sanitary fixtures and tapware

are water efficient. The office floor plate width maximizes daylight penetration from both the external windows and the atrium. A 250mm ceiling service zone accommodates supplementary mechanical equipment, fire sprinklers with flexible connections, and light fittings with flexible leads for example. Access floor were also used throughout the building to allow easy reconfiguration of spaces. Services within these areas were also provided with flexible connections so that relocation, rather than disconnection and reconnection, was all that was required. As a result, overnight re-configurations of large office areas (hundreds of square metres) can now be achieved. Security is ever more of an issue, and this building includes two major entry and reception areas and a building facilities help desk, as well as an operations control centre and two major security-controlled access points. Lift services were supplied by Kone and featured elevators from their MonoSpace range, selected due to their high degree of reliability and energy efficiency. There are 11 such elevators installed on this site, ten being passenger lifts and one a dedicated goods lift. The MonoSpace concept, pioneered by KONE removes the necessity of building a dedicated machine room above the lift shaft. With this type of equipment, all lift related equipment is located inside the lift shaft, optimizing the available building space. All lift equipment was also designed to be used by sight and hearing impaired building occupants. Communications equipment in the lift cars utilizes both audible and visual (via an LCD display) means of communicating with a potentially injured & disabled lift occupant. Building system design and management contributes greatly to the ABGR rating. Star Electrical and the Heyday Group worked together as a joint venture to create and Award Magazine | 39

implement electrical systems that complied with the 4.5 Star ABGR energy rating of the building. Each organisation has decades of experience and hundreds of employees. Wood is making a major comeback in many office and institutional buildings, especially for paneling. Apart from its natural warmth, there are good ESD reasons for using it. Supawood supplied modular panels for the building’s atrium, the lift lobbies on each floor, the ceilings and the balconies. The panels used were designed specifically for aesthetic impact, and Supawood was involved right from the architect’s design and specification through to final installation.Panels were designed not only to look good but also to provide ready access to services. Each panel is demountable and re-usable. Being a natural material with natural variations, colour matching the panels for a project of this size became a significant task… involving an area of some 800m2. Easy access to sub floor services can dramatically increase flexibility. An access floor in conjunction with on-grid carpet tile allows for the rapid churning of the office environment. The modular system designed by Tasman Access Floors facilitates re-use at the end of a tenancy. Raw materials used in the construction of the modular panels & understructure are suitable for easy recycling. Tasman’s design & construct contract included supply & installation of 33,000m² of floor system, which comprised a 600mm x 600mm corner-locked steel/concrete composite panel on a pedestal installed 200mm above the structural slab level. These panels also incorporated locating holes for the location of the on-grid carpet system without carpet adhesives.

Landscape Design

Canberra firm Redbox Design Group was responsible for landscape design, which had a very particular set of challenges and quite stringent environmental conditions. Just some of the issues to be considered included general matters like the location of the development (adjacent to the Murrumbidgee River Corridor) and the implications of the 2003 Canberra bush fires for the area. Location of new trees with regard to the building had to be carefully considered, and recycled concrete mulch was used on all gardens. Landscaping of the site with local species promotes biodiversity. Drought can be extreme in the region, so water conservation concerns led to the extensive use of local flora and native grasses. Water for irrigation is restricted so the grey water system, which recycles most of the water on site, is used. The irrigation system is programmed to adjust water to the seasonal availability of water. Roof water is collected to supplement the greywater system, the remainder is detained

40 | Award Magazine

Interior Photo REQURED

Image courtesy of Brookfield Multiplex

PAGE TITLE Project Profile: Centrelink NSO

Soaring full height atrium is a visual and social focus. onsite and released into the Murrumbidgee River system to assist in environmental flows. Carpark runoff is collected in landscaped deep swales which filter out pollutants before detention and release into the river system.

Fire & Life Safety

The fire safety design was a specialised solution developed by Defire and included performance based alternative solutions such as active fire suppression with smoke separation and natural buoyancy driven ventilation for smoke

features and equipment is one thing, it is often quite another to “drive” it all effectively. The desired performance of buildings can only be achieved if they are operated appropriately. So modern ESD buildings need to be managed properly, and there are many implications for occupants and building managers. Equipment needs to be maintained, measurements kept up, operational and behavioural protocols adhered to. Often the behaviour of occupants is specified in tenancy agreements that can specify such things as suitable wall paints and

Raw materials used in the construction of the modular panels & understructure are suitable for easy recycling.

control within the atrium. The design was analysed using the latest computer simulation technology (the Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS)), to predict the possible scenarios. Simulex evacuation modelling then analysed the evacuation time of different areas of the building. Defire merged with Canberra based company Stephen Wise & Associates in 2007. CPS Concretors which incorporates CPS Concrete Pumping, delivered the concrete for most of the base and for structural support, during an involvement of some 18 months Providing a building with all the latest

floor coverings as well as use of the HVAC, garbage, power and water systems.

Final Outcome

Multiplex Facilities Management has been engaged for the maintenance of the Centrelink National Support office for the entire lease period, and Brookfield Multiplex’s Construction and Facilities Management arms worked together closely during the development to get a full understanding of the building and the best way of operating it. A

Project directory | Centrelink NSO D&C CONTRACTOR

Ultrafloor Pty Ltd

Contact: Alan Morrison 6 Kyle Street Rutherford, NSW 2320 P: 02 4015 2222 F: 02 4932 8050

Acoustic Consultant • Acoustic Logic Consultancy Level 3, 6-8 Crewe Place Rosebery, NSW 2018 Architect • GSA Architects Level 4, 80 William St East Sydney, NSW 2011 Ultrafloor Centrelink A4 Advert.indd 1

Atrium Roof Glazing • Architectural Glass Projects (AGP) 9 Liberty Road Huntingwood, NSW 2148 BCA Consultant • Davis Langdon Level 5, 100 Pacific Hwy North Sydney, NSW 2060

With the successful completion of the Centrelink project, Ultrafloor was once again able to demonstrate their proven history of delivering the precast advantage in full. In essence - a faster, cheaper, safer solution with many other peripheral benefits. The scale of the project, the nature of the agreed scope and the tight program necessitated a significant mobilisation of resources. Close co-ordination was required with all parties involved and the net outcome was the delivery of 1,000m2 of flooring a day and a project completed on time. This remarkable speed was assisted by the adoption of a precast perimeter walling solution from Advanced Precast. The 45,000m2 of suspended decks were formed with the Ultrafloor metaldeck system supported on prestressed precast transverse band beams. The Ultrafloor system represents approximately half of the precast flooring used in Australia and to date they have successfully supplied some 4.0 million square metres of product to the market.

Blinds • Blindcraft 14/43-53 Bridge Rd Stanmore, NSW 2048 Bricklayer • FUGEN Holdings Po Box 566 Alexandria, NSW 1435 11/12/08 11:45:51 AM

Geo Technical Consultant • ACT Geotechnical Engineering Pty Ltd 31-37 Townshend Street Phillip, ACT 2606 Insulation • Capital Insulation 3/218 Gladstone Street Fyshwick, ACT 2609 P: 02 6280 0005 F: 02 6280 4027

Environmental Consultant • Bassett Consulting Engineers PO Box Q410, QVB Post Office Sydney, NSW 1230

Kitchens • Contemporary Kitchens 3/14 Alderson Place Hume, ACT 2619

Fire Engineer • Defire PO Box 2046 Strawberry Hills, NSW 2012

Landscape Consultant • Redbox Design Group PO Box 4575 Kingston, ACT 2604 Louvres • Air Grilles 2 The Crescent Kingsgrove, NSW 2208 Roofing • Hyland Roofing 223 Maitland Road Sandgate, NSW 2304

42 | Award Magazine

Project Profile: Centrelink NSO  
Project Profile: Centrelink NSO  

Award Magazine Project Profile By Dan Stojanovich