8 Chifley Square, Sydney’s Bold New Office Tower

Lippmann

A bold new tower has risen above Sydney’s Chifley Square. Set to officially open at the end of October, the structure’s bright, primary colours and innovative inclusion of public space are already creating buzz – and reinventing how to best use commercial space in city centres.

8 Chifley Square’s intriguing design was chosen through a City of Sydney Design Excellence Competition. “The city of Sydney brought in this process a few years ago as a means of improving the quality of design in the central business district,” explains Ed Lippmann, Senior Partner at Lippmann Partnership, a Sydney based urban design and architecture studio. “It’s a process whereby developers are required to have competitions involving a number of different teams of architects to put forward the design. This enables the city council to have some say in what the design of buildings will be.”

Lippmann Partnership, in consultation with the British firm Rogers, Stirk, Harbour and Partners, created the winning design for the premium grade commercial office tower. Mirvac Projects commissioned the building and the global engineering firm Arup was responsible for all the engineering.

Design Features

Three key features make 8 Chifley Square stand out. Most noticeably, the building’s ground plane is used as a dynamic open space for public use, allowing Chifley Square to overflow within the property’s boundaries. “What is unusual about this project is that there is a pre-existing public square, Chifley Square, to the north of the site,” Mr Lippmann explains. “And so our building, even though it is a private development, contributes to that public space. Unlike most buildings, which occupy their full site and are built boundary to boundary, this building devotes 70 per cent of its ground plane as public open space.”

The first office floor is actually elevated six levels in the air, creating the airy and inviting public area beneath, which will include a café, retail space, and seating. “That is quite unique,” Mr Lippmann points out. “[The area] is devoted as part of the city, part of the public realm. And that, I think, is a very generous gesture to the city. It is the kind of direction that, in the future, buildings in our city centre should follow to improve the quality of urban life.” Elevating the lowest office level by six storeys also allowed the building to be increased in height as the allowable floor area was well below the height limit. “There are excellent views of Sydney Harbour which are achievable as one builds higher,” Mr Lippmann explains. “The reverse podium and transferring the office space six levels above the ground was the first strategy of getting the office tower up in the air.”

The second innovative design concept is the creation of a series of office “village” environments within the building. “The approach to the commercial village is the thing that distinguished our design from the others,” Mr Lippmann says. The plan involves varying floor plates and three storey voids, providing a flexible and refreshingly transparent working environment. Most importantly, the design creates the large spaces that the tenant market demands. 8 Chifley Square stands on a relatively small 1,600 square metre site and, after taking the core – lifts, toilets, servies and fire stairs into account, only about 1,000 square metres of usable space remain. “In Sydney right now, 1,000 square metres is not a desirable area of office footprint for the kinds of international tenants who we knew would be wanting to use this building,” Mr Lippmann points out. “So we created a series of 2,000 + square metre volumes by creating two levels of mezzanines within full floor levels. Every third floor of the building is a full floor plate and the intermediate two levels are mezzanine floors. This divides the building up into three-level chunks, what we called ‘commercial villages.’”

A side core design positions lifts on the sides of the floor plate, rather than the centre, increasing the office space’s flexibility even more. “The tenancies are broken up into [spaces] where people can communicate up and down,” Mr Lippmann explains. “You can see people within your commercial village. This encourages communication between staff and makes for a much better experience for people.” And, of course, “it responds to the spatial requirements of tenants.”

8 Chifley Square also boasts the coveted 6-star Green Star rating. “It achieves the highest of sustainability,” Mr Lippmann points out. “Only a handful of buildings in Australia have achieved 6-star Green Star rating.” Indeed, the structure is full of environmentally friendly features. There is a tri-generation plant on the roof to generate power onsite and a blackwater recycling plant in the basement. An externally shaded, clear glass façade with internal shading to reduce glare while simultaneously affording views both in and out of the building. A naturally ventilated ground floor glass lobby enclosure, LED lighting, chilled beam ceilings and a high volume of fresh air intake also work together to substantially lower the building’s carbon footprint. Furthermore, the structure utilises low volatile organic compound (VOC) materials. Lastly, the building has a photovoltaic-ready roof structure and bike racks, change rooms, and lockers in the basement to encourage cycling to and from work.

Construction

“The structure and the construction of the building is very clear and legible,” Mr Lippmann points out. The building’s four concrete megacolumns are located on the outside, rather than the inside of the envelope. “You can see them from the street and you can understand how the building works structurally,” Mr Lippmann explains.

“We pushed the structure as much as we could to the outside of the building to make the floor area unencumbered and flexible. The columns don’t intrude into the office space.” Exposed fire stairs and a series of highly visible, brightly coloured steel support beams also run along the exterior of the 22,000 square metre building.

Many of the building components were prefabricated overseas and assembled onsite, saving both time and money, as well as making the project more environmentally friendly; the steelwork was manufactured in China and the curtain wall was fabricated in Thailand. Much of the glass was manufactured in Germany, including the glass lobby box which is suspended from above, allowing for a completely frameless glass assembly. “In the future, this will become a more common way of building,” Mr Lippmann says of prefabrication. “Because as the global economy changes, so much will be manufactured in Asia more economically.”

The external structure has been completed and reaches a height of 120 metres at the roof, while the exhaust stacks bring that measurement up to 146 metres. A few final touches have yet to be completed inside the building, but it should be open to the public before the first of November. Even before its official opening, 8 Chifley Square is already setting a new standard for what can – and should – be achieved by today’s leading edge office towers. “It is a highly engineered building and it is a highly crafted building,” Mr Lippmann summarises. “It is beautifully built.”

And, the building is as functional as it is beautiful. “It is a very rational design in terms of the shape of the tower, the location of the core,” he adds. Then of course, there are the unique features that this design allows. “I think what really made our design stand out was the external articulation of the parts and the commercial village concept,” Mr Lippmann concludes. With features like these, the eye catching tower seems destined to become Sydney’s newest landmark building.

Home Automation

Call it ‘domotics,’ and you are likely to receive a blank stare, but refer to it as ‘smart home’ or ‘home automation,’ and you will get a nod of acknowledgement. For the past few years, consumers have heard the word ‘smart’ attached to countless products and services, from food and drink to snacks like popcorn and mobile phones, which no one seems to refer to as a ‘cellphone’ anymore. Yet what, exactly, constitutes ‘smart’?

May 26, 2020, 6:49 AM AEST