Friday, May 18, 2007

CH2 Green Building Up Close

It was a overcast cool and rainy day in Melbourne, perhaps not the best day to look at the Melbourne City Council's new CH2 green building, but a typical Melbourne day (at least it was before the drought). The bright yellow windmills on the top of the building were muted in the dull light and were not moving.

The building looks more cubic in reality, than in the publicity photos. This is accentuated by all the automatic wooden shutters being closed. At first glance the building looks solid, but then you notice movement through the wall. A back of lifts are just viable through the wooden slats in the shutters.

The building looks different on the three sides presented to the public. The most prominent western wall, facing Swanston Street is weathered looking wood, like an old packing case left out in the rain. The effect is not unpleasant, just different to the solid stone Beaux Arts architecture surrounding it.

The southern wall on Little Collins street has metal mesh cylinders suspended up the side of the building. These look like fishing nets, or escape slides. No doubt they have some practical use.

The Northern wall on an anonymous lane way is the most interesting. This has metal balconies with plants like a 21th century hanging gardens of Babylon, or perhaps an up market Paris apartment block.

The inside of the building is a disappointment. The ground floor is divided into a small reception for council offices and a large area for up market shops. The council area is a glass walled box, with a reception desk, turnstiles for card controlled staff access and a display area. At the present the display area has some architectural renderings of the building left over from the opening.

None of the building's active "green" systems are readily apparent. Perhaps this is as the occupants of the building want it. But it is a shame there is not a screen in the foyer showing the current status of the systems.

Apart from this small area, there appears to be no public access to the building. Despite the limited public access, for a government office security does not appear to have been given a high priority in the design.

1 comment:

Tom Worthington said...

CH2 features in "Architecture, Hot and Cold", By Russell Fortmeyer (January 2008, Architectural Record). This is a Continuing Education item for the American Institute of Architects on energy efficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC).