The Australian Institute of Architects’ Victorian chapter has officially moved into its new home, dubbed 41X, a building that was eight years in the making.
Located on the corner of Exhibition and Flinders Street, 41X is the first strata office building in Melbourne to target carbon neutrality over its 30-year operating lifespan. According to a statement from the AIA, this will be achieved through accounting for embodied energy, base building operational energy, transport and waste.
41X already has a minimal footprint, standing on a small 285 square metre site. It also boasts other green design credentials such as prefabricated construction and a high performance facade. The Green Building Council has awarded the project a 5 Star Green Star Rating in office design.
The 21-storey building, was opened this week by Her Excellency the Honourable Quentin Bryce AC CVO, Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia.
“41X successfully shows how private and not-for-profit organisations can have a positive impact on the development of our cities by creating world class, cutting-edge, environmentally responsible commercial buildings,” she said at the opening.
“This elegant addition to Melbourne’s CBD makes a bold statement about the value of design. With this building, the Institute is strongly reinforcing the value of architects and architecture to the sustainable growth of our community – tangibly fulfilling its mission of ‘making the world a better place through architecture.”
AIA national president Paul Berkemeier said his organisation is extremely proud of its new home.
“It is an exemplary, small footprint, commercial building that shows how good design, sustainability and the work of architects can deliver outstanding results,” he said.
The project's inception dates back to 2006 when a detailed feasibility study for the site considered a range of options including refurbishment and relocation.
After extensive consultation, the Institute’s National Council decided that the site would be redeveloped into a small commercial tower. While the Insittute will inhabit the five lower levels, another 15 purchasers and tenants are said to be keen on being a part of the building.
In 2008, Lyons was selected as the architect to design the building and explored ideas of a hybrid public/commercial building that met carbon neutral targets. A few years later in 2012, HASSELL was selected as architect for the fit out of the AIA's floors.
In an interview with Sourceable last year, Lyons founding director Carey Lyon revealed the design strategy behind the building.
“We came up with an idea that the Institute could be on the lower levels of the building in a very public way so when you enter the building it is like a continuation of the footpath,” he said. “As you head up the stairs, they wind their way on the front façade of the building up near the levels of the institute so it creates a connection rather than having to go into the commercial lobby of a building."
The façade is also completely energy efficient according to Hickory, the company responsible for ensuring the building earned high marks for environmental design and sustainability.
On its website, Hickory says that the façade features a unique external precast concrete panels of complex geometry integrated with high performance glazing. The facade also features “bite” shapes of faceted green anodised aluminium supported by structural steel with a marine grade ply substrate, some of which shelter and delineate terrace areas.
41X is now open and offers spaces where AIA members, the public and design enthusiasts can meet and collaborate. The Victorian chapter will occupy five of 41X’s floors, with level one featuring a design haven, a design bookshop and a cafe. The Institute is currently working on a public events program focusing on architecture and design.