Redcor Leading light injecting a sense of vitality into Sydneys west
A new government office building has injected a sense of vitality into Penrith in Sydney’s west.
Credentials:Project: Penrith Government Office Building
Client: NSW Department of Commerce and State Property Authority
Architect: Kann Finch Architects
Project Team: Bob Nation, Trevor De Waal, Michael Gaston, Liljana Ermilova, Bethan Gregory, David Drover
Structural & Civil Engineer: Meinhardt
Steel Fabricator: Cullen Steel Fabrication
Cladding Contractor: BlueScope
Builder: Richard Crookes Constructions
Landscape Architects: EDAW
Principal Steel Components: Wall Cladding: BlueScope AZURE® facade system made with REDCOR® weathering steel; BlueScope AZURE® facade system using pre-painted panels made from GALVABOND® steel
Building Size: 8400m2
Total Project Cost: $46 million
Photography: Paul Bradshaw
The striking new building at the corner of Belmore and Station Streets in Penrith, opposite the railway station and next door to the Australian Tax Office, is one of the city’s tallest structure and it instils a new mood of confidence in the outer-west hub.
The Penrith Government Office Building (PGOB) provides locals with a one-stop-shop to access government services, including the Office of Fair Trading, the Department of Community Services and the Sydney Catchment Authority.
From an aesthetic point of view, the building appears impressive thanks to BlueScope AZURE® panels, which are made from REDCOR® weathering steel and pre-painted GALVABOND® steel, which run the full height of the seven-storey structure, giving it a unique presence in the city.
At its pinnacle, an innovative roof terrace provides the building’s occupants with a pleasant place to take a break or eat lunch while taking in sweeping district views, under the shade of a weathered steel pergola.
The selection of REDCOR® weathering steel for the facades and roof terrace was a deliberate attempt by Kann Finch Architects, led by design director Bob Nation, to create a new focal point and sense of place in the commercial hub of Penrith. “We wanted to recognise Penrith as a place where, in a sense, the country and the city meet,” says project director Trevor De Waal.
“The use of REDCOR® weathering steel as a featured material in concert with other contemporary treatments reflects a modern city in a rural backdrop.”
The architects also aimed to take advantage of the local climatic conditions and the site’s prime location, to set a new benchmark for green design in Sydney’s outer west. The building’s Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) features include operable louvres to the eastern and western facades; extended floor plates that shade the level below; and proprietar-technology anodised aluminium screen blades on the northern facade to provide sunshade.
All of the materials, and particularly REDCOR® weathering steel, were chosen for their longevity, to meet the client’s demands for a building that would last a minimum of 15 years and require little maintenance over that time.
“And provided that it’s installed correctly, the product will last the lifetime of the building. Also, weathered steel is effectively maintenance free, so while the panels made from pre-painted GALVABOND® steel might need a wash down, the whole building has been designed to provide reasonable access for maintenance. The panels and glass can be cleaned from the extended floor plates.”
With Kann Finch undertaking the interior fit-outs for all of the government agency tenants, the same ESD principles were applied inside. “We also provided sun penetration control on the east and west facades via a series of louvres that are individually operated on each floor, and excellent common spaces for workplace interaction,” De Waal adds. “These include the superb roof-top terrace that frames the broad view via the timber and weathering steel pergola.”
Bob Nation had used weathered steel in previous projects such as the Sidney Myer Asia Centre at The University of Melbourne. “We did a lot of research and through that process we contacted BlueScope” De Waal explains. “Although there were some concerns about using REDCOR® weathering steel in the facade, we came to the same conclusion through a number of routes: that provided it was pre-weathered and treated properly in its detailing, the product would be fit-for-purpose.”
To that end, Nation proposed a ‘rain screen’ facade system which, according to De Waal, is not common in Australia but has been widely adopted throughout Europe and the United States over many years. “The panelised facade is not a water-tight skin,” he explains. “The first layer is a backup wall made of concrete block within a concrete frame, which is waterproof, then the panelised system sits like a screen in front of that. The assembly enables the wall to ‘breathe’ behind the panels, which are open at the top and bottom.
“The ‘rain screen’ facade system offered the best outcome in relation to our desire to use weathered steel as a featured material, and the need to generate a facade that was well detailed and articulated,” De Waal says. “The BlueScope system provided the best fit for the facade performance criteria, which included longevity, crisp detailing, a prefinished surface and value for money.
“It also allowed for a crisp expression of the panels which was possible because of the absence of sealant-filled joints.
“The idea that you can be supported by good facade engineers who effectively operate a one-stop-shop, and achieve that level of crispness in detailing, makes the BlueScope product an attractive proposition,” he adds.