This building, along with others nearby, would have been connected to the footwear and textile industry, with many cobblers having their workshops here.
While the over-scaled numbers and vibrant staircase are evocative of the 1970s, many other elements in SJB’s design speak of the building’s history along with the robust environment in which it’s placed.
For example, the top eight levels, featuring pressed concrete, evoke knitted cloth, responding to the knitwear manufacturing industry once prevalent in Collingwood.
The hit-and-miss brick arched at ground level, creating a ‘veil’ to the street, also picks up on the neighbouring building’s arched windows.
“The form of the staircase was inspired by the pattern of laces in one’s boots,” says Wong, pointing out the direction of the two stairs that come together.
However, while there are historic references imbued in the design, there’s a strong emphasis on green principles and creating a biophilic atmosphere even in a gritty urban environment.
As well as operable louvred windows on each level, there are also double-height terraces (seven metres in height) that allow staff the opportunity to enjoy the northern light.
And as each floor plate is relatively narrow, approximately 11 metres in width, there’s cross-ventilation along with maximum sun penetration. It is designed to be a 5-star green building.
“We wanted people to use their legs rather than heading straight for the lift,” says Wong, who was also keen to activate the corner with a cafe, The Studio Beans, clearly marked by a fluorescent sign.
A communal meeting area adjacent to this cafe (a bookable space) also allows for larger meetings.
SJB limited the number of car parking spaces to a dozen, with accommodation for 50 bikes and end-of-trip facilities in the basement.
As SJB was only commissioned to create the base building, with individual tenancies installing their own fit-outs, each level is customised to suit each company.
They do share the same floors in the main: polished concrete that acts as a heat bank and exposed services overhead to maximise a sense of space.
This building will certainly encourage others to think outside the square and it wouldn’t surprise this writer if more office buildings include vibrant exterior stairs that blur the line between art and architecture.
And when people want to locate it, it’s the ‘building with the green staircase’.
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