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Snapshot: One Central Park, Sydney

This development, completed in January 2014, offers an inspired vision for introducing vegetation into high-rise design

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Acclaimed for its use of hydroponics and heliostats to grow plants, Sydney’s One Central Park was named Best Tall Building Worldwide at this year’s Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) awards. The project includes a 130m, 34-storey apartment building and a 12-storey serviced apartment tower on a retail podium.

The taller building serves as a landmark for the multi-building Frasers Broadway project, located on a former brewery site near the city’s downtown area. Conceived as a vertical garden, the scheme features 23 green walls containing 35,000 wall plants and 85,000 façade plants. This vertical landscape, with design input from French botanist and artist Patrick Blanc, covers approximately 50% of the façade area and contains over 350 different species of plants, most native to Australia. Michael Goldrick, project management director for developer Frasers Property, comments: “Every member of the team challenged us to deliver something that was out of the box.”

Antony Wood, executive director for CTBUH and awards juror, adds: “Seeing this project for the first time stopped me dead. There have been major advances in the incorporation of greenery in high-rise buildings over the past few years – but nothing on the scale of this building has been attempted or achieved. One Central Park strongly points the way forward, not only for an essential naturalisation of our built environment, but for a new aesthetic for our cities – an aesthetic entirely appropriate to the environmental challenges of our age.”

* Architecture: Jean Nouvel / PTW Architects
Concept design was provided by the practice of celebrity French architect Jean Nouvel, while PTW Architects was appointed architect of record. The tower and the adjacent park are linked with a series of cascading planted terraces which shield the apartments from direct sun during summer and admit maximum sunlight in winter. The units feature indoor / outdoor loggias that extend the living space outside to take full advantage of Sydney’s temperate climate. Loggias on the north and east façades extend inwards, to protect residents from noise, wind and sun; and south and west loggias extend outwards from the façade, to take maximum advantage of views toward the park.

* Sustainability: Arup
Multi-disciplinary consultant Arup provided building services, vertical transportation, fire engineering, specialist lighting design and detailed analysis to confirm the available daylight and performance of the green wall. The sustainability framework was developed in collaboration with WSP. Robert Saidman, Sydney building services team leader and principal at Arup, comments: “One Central Park has regenerated a key part of our city and created a new and important urban village. Its continued recognition demonstrates the value of a broad sustainability strategy that includes enhancements to public life – the result of designers, engineers and architects challenging one another.”

* Structures: Robert Bird Group
Structural engineering services were provided by Robert Bird Group, a firm with offices in Australia, the UK, the UAE and Southeast Asia. Hydroponic walls and low-profile horizontal planters and cables are integrated into the façade to support the variety of climbing and spreading plants. A monumental cantilever houses a common room and panoramic terrace for apartments, and contains a motorised heliostat to capture and redirect sunlight. The project also features a huge membrane bioreactor recycled water facility called Central Park Water. This reduces residents’ consumption of drinking water by 40-50%, resulting in a low-impact energy and water supply.

* Environmental: Kennovations
Sydney-based Kennovations provided technical feasibility assessments and conceptual design for the project’s architectural heliostats and light reflectors. The company was contracted to Watpac to design and construct the 42 x 6.25sqm sun tracking heliostats (on the rooftop) and the 320 x 1.5sqm reflector panels (suspended beneath the main cantilever), each with nine LED clusters within the surface. The heliostats incorporate a system of fixed and motorised mirrored panels to capture sunlight and redirect it into the retail atrium and the landscaped terraces. At night, the heliostats’ integrated lighting displays video interpretations of landscapes in the city.

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