Designing any commercial building has its challenges but when it’s sited directly above a working underground rail station the technical and design challenges are multiplied. So it was for Auckland-based Peddle Thorp Architects with the Britomart East 1, 2 and 3 buildings which sit Pi-like, framing the former Auckland Chief Post Office and above the city’s central station.
Peddle Thorp has been actively involved in developer Cooper and Company’s Britomart East Building for six years working closely with lead precinct designers JPW of Sydney. The assignment includes three main built projects so far – Charter House, fronting Customs St and Roukai Lane, Takutai Square, and the trio of East buildings that resembles the ancient and famed mathematical constant. Pi has its origins in Egyptian ancient history and as with that epoch’s ancient pyramids, Britomart’s most-recently completed East building has been designed and built based on dedicated teamwork.
Peddle Thorp director Richard Goldie says the building includes a number of design and technical challenges. “Not the least of these was the fact it was built directly above the operational Britomart Rail Station,” Mr Goldie says. “This demanded a lightweight structural system that minimises load on existing station columns and piling. At the same time it needed to provide a high level of isolation from the noise and track vibrations associated with a rail station.”
The structure is effectively three buildings in one, and each has achieved a 5 Star Green Star Certified Rating from the New Zealand Green Building Council (NZGBC) representing ‘New Zealand excellence’ in green building. Innovations include large planted vertical green-walls at each end of the atrium, an inflated cushion ETFE atrium roof, and three sky-bridges across Galway Street connecting through to the earlier Charter House project. ETFE is a transparent polymer material developed for the space industry so it presents its own challenges Mr Goldie says.