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Project Profile: The Ark

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Image courtesy of Investa Property Group


By Jodie Thomson

With its cutting-edge standards of environmentally sustainable design, The Ark will transform the skyline of the North Sydney CBD


eing green in modern, commercial construction involves more than just the inclusion of water and energysaving devices. These days, the need to make buildings more environmentally sustainable impacts every aspect of their design. The Ark, a 21-storey structure currently under construction in North Sydney, is an outstanding example of this new approach to green construction. It boasts groundbreaking levels of environmentally sustainable design (ESD) that will set new standards for a CBD structure. “We’re looking to create North Sydney’s first, premium five-star building,” says Tina Tang, group general manager, commercial office developments at Investa Property Group, which owns The Ark site. “We wanted to lead the market in North Sydney and not just create another office block.” Designed by Rice Daubney and currently being built by Thiess Pty Ltd, The Ark will offer 28,500sqm of A-Grade commercial office space on the former telephone exchange site at 16-40 Mount Street. Work on the $101million contract started in June last year and is expected to finish around March 2010.

allowable height limits were,” says David Curtis, of Rice Daubney. The resulting design features a slender block with varying façade, each designed to maximise the building’s energy efficiency. On the south side, the angled, glass-fronted façade minimises full sun exposure, as does a glass curtain wall with horizontal louvres on the east. The northern face of the building is predominantly a concrete core with very small windows. These various design elements give the structure a sense of movement and lightness. There are also clear connections between indoor and outdoor spaces, with large terraces at every floor on the western façade. Another key innovation is the fact that the entire project is being carried out using a 3D Building Information Model (BIM), which gives a 3D display of all the design and as-built information about the architecture and services of the building at every stage of construction. “This will be the first building in Australia to be a totally BIM project and it means we’re all working together in a virtual world,” says Graeme Smith.

We’re looking to create North Sydney’s first, premium five-star building. Tina Tang, Investa Property Group


Creating a building that reached new heights of ESD was a vision shared by both the client, Investa Property Group, and architects Rice Daubney, as well as the local council. “One of the things the council encouraged was design excellence,” says Graeme Smith, principal and head of commercial at Rice Daubney. The design of The Ark is 100 per cent site specific. “We spent a lot of time understanding the orientation, sun angles, predominant wind, the views out of the building, and what our


Beyond its clever external orientation and structure, which maximise the entire building’s energy efficiency, The Ark incorporates a host of other ESD features. All the materials were selected for their excellent sustainability, such as the highperformance glass, supplied by China Southern Glass (Australia), on the curtain wall. The design includes a greywater recycling system that captures and stores for reuse the rainwater from the roof, stormwater run-off, fire sprinkler test water and air-conditioning Award Magazine | 19

Image courtesy of Investa Property Group

Project Profile: The Ark

condensate water. The building’s main power supply will be a tri-generation plant, supplied by Cogent, that uses gas turbines to provide energy for electricity and heating/cooling. Other ESD innovations include motion sensors on stairwell lights so they only go on if a door opens by someone planning to use the stairwell, and reserved basement car spaces for eight Smart cars.


Much attention was given to the design of the foyer and street-level areas of The Ark, in particular the need to reference the historic telephone exchange. “Our approach is to be very sympathetic to the surrounding area,” says David Curtis. On Mount Street the lobby is set back 13 metres and incorporates a café and public art space along with a 'pocket' park. Place Design Group are involved with designing the landscaping of the exterior spaces, and plans include the addition of mature trees to the public domain, and construction of contemporary, planter-boxes around existing trees. The lobby will feature several commissioned artworks that contain physical remnants or visual links to the old telephone exchange. One is a sculpture by Simon Grimes, using original copper letters taken from the signage of the old exchange building. There’s also an ‘art wall’ leading from the entry forecourt up Mount Street, and the forecourt ceiling incorporates a 10m by 10m piece of indigenous art by Freddie Timms.


Demolition of the former telephone exchange and excavation of the site have taken place, and work has begun on erecting the main structure of The Ark. The existence of the former telephone exchange has already posed some difficulties for the contract teams. Thiess design manager Clive Furnass says, “there are many underground chambers and tunnels from the original exchange adjacent to the site and they have had to work closely with Telstra to navigate around existing Telstra infrastructure.” In terms of the construction, the design creates numerous challenges for the Thiess contract teams. Each façade is different, as is each of the 20 floor plates. There’s also a high volume of off-form concrete, which is difficult to achieve in high areas. Design features of the building that pose a challenge to construct include the ‘K’ shape of the southern curtain wall façade, the cantilevered slabs on the upper levels and the Level 11 slab on the western façade, which

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Rendering: Main entrance way is supported with exposed, off-form raking columns each seven metres long. Also unusual and innovative are the horizontal sunshades on the curtain wall, all manufactured by Permasteelisa, and the sliding louvres on the lower western façade, designed and produced by Colt Tollfab. In addition to that are the regular difficulties of constructing such a major project in the heart of a busy, CBD. Clive Furnass says “they have been communicating closely with the

Proof of The Ark’s appeal as a commercial building is the fact that Investa Property secured a pre-commitment to lease part of the office space before construction even commenced. Coca-Cola Amatil have signed a 10-year lease and plan to move from their current headquarters in Sydney’s Macquarie Street into The Ark when completed. They will take 7,620sqm in the lower portion of the high-rise building. Marketing is also underway to secure tenants

This building will be ground breaking in all sorts of ways.

community on the construction program and stages that may affect neighbouring areas.” “All feedback to date has been positive in respect to our traffic management, noise control and communication with all stakeholders.”


Construction of The Ark is currently on schedule and completion is expected early 2010, about three years after the initial purchase of the site.

Graeme Smith, Rice Daubney for the remaining sections of the building. “And we already have very strong interest from a number of parties,” says Tina Tang, of Investa. On paper, there’s no doubt The Ark meets new standards of ESD, but this will be proven over time, with plans to keep detailed followup records of the building’s performance. “This building will be ground breaking in all sorts of ways, in the way it’s being designed, documented and delivered,” says Graeme Smith, Rice Daubney. A

Project directory | The Ark ARCHITECT

Rice Daubney (Services) Pty Ltd

Contact: Catherine Loker 110 Walker Street North Sydney, NSW 2060 P: 02 9956 2666 F: 02 9959 3015

Rice Daubney are the architects and designers for 40 Mount Street, North Sydney, changing our perception of buildings in North Sydney. Integrated into North Sydney’s heritage precinct the iconic form of 'The Ark' rises above its peers to create a new benchmark for innovation and sustainable design for the CBD skyline. The building is conceived as a set of layered elements which respond to the heritage street grain, natural environment, public domain, and city skyline. These elements are what give 'The Ark' a sense of place. The podium at the base of the iconic tower is fragmented into small scale elements constructed of natural materials and re-establishes the rhythm of the original development of the heritage precinct. The Ark has been designed from the outset to be one of Australia’s most sustainable office buildings.



Contact: Alistair Coulstock Level 7, 657 Pacific Highway St Leonards, NSW 2060 P: 02 8424 7000 F: 02 8424 7099

BCA Certifiers • Philip Chun and Associates Suite 404, 44 Hampden Road Artarmon, NSW 2064 Electrical Engineer • Heyday Locked bag 2047 North Ryde, NSW 2047 Façade Engineer • Arupt PO Box 76 Millers Point, NSW 2000 General Contractor • Thiess Property Ltd PO Box 303 North Sydney, NSW 2059 Hydraulic Engineer • Axis PO Box 4499 Milperra DC, NSW 1892 Landscape Architect • Place Design Group Level 1, 235 Pacific Highway North Sydney, NSW 2060 P: 02 9959 5021 F: 02 9959 5802 Lighting • Lighting Design Partnership 213/217 Palmer Street Darlinghurst, NSW 2010 Mechanical Engineer • Hastie Australia Pty Ltd PO Box 6161 Silverwater DC, NSW 1811

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Cundall were the ESD Consultants on the Ark project, providing advice for the Green Star – Office Design and As Built ratings targeted, as well as carrying out the NABERS Energy rating 5 star commitment agreement. Amongst the initiatives included were the modelling of a trigeneration system to provide 5 star plus 40% reduction in GHGe under Green Star credit ENE2, rainwater harvesting, stormwater collection, and a greywater recycling system. All management credits were targeted under the Green Star rating tool. Cundall also utilised BIM, a combined modelling system that allowed an integrated approach with the architect. Cundall advised on a range of façade solutions that provided greater thermal comfort for the tenants. A Green Eye energy monitoring system was also incorporated to allow selfmonitoring by tenants of their energy usage. Above standard ventilation rates of fresh air also add to improved occupant comfort levels.

Project Manager • Cadence Level 1, 10 Mallett Camperdown, NSW 2050 Quantity Surveyor • Ryder Levett Bucknall PO Box 531 North Sydney, NSW 2059 Structural Engineer • Taylor Thomson Whitting Contact: Rex VanKatwyk PO Box 238 Crowesnest, NSW 1585 P: 02 9439 7288 F: 02 9439 3148 Traffic Engineer • Colston, Budd, Hunt & Kafes PO Box 5186 West Chestwood, NSW 1515

Project Profile: The Ark  

Award Magazine Project Profile By Jodie Thomson

Project Profile: The Ark  

Award Magazine Project Profile By Jodie Thomson