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New benchmark – AIM WA Katitjin Centre

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AMI WA Katitjin Centre – 6-Star Green Star

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For an organisation that is focused on best practice in management and leadership, it made sense to put its philosophy in practice with the commissioning of its own new training facility.

Adding a third building, the Katitjin Centre, to the campus in Floreat, WA doubled the size of the training facilities offered by the Australian Institute of Management (AIM) WA. It also provided an opportunity for the institute to commission a facility that would incorporate sustainable design initiatives, says CEO emeritus professor Gary Martin.

"Environmental sustainability is a core part of the mission statements of many of the companies we work with, so we felt it was an appropriate design response for an institute committed to all-round excellence in management and leadership."

In the event, AIM WA chose to take the ESD brief even further, says architect Fred Chaney of Cox Howlett & Bailey Woodland, the firm commissioned to design the new building.

"After considerable discussion and assessment, the client determined, with the team's advice, that the Green Building Council of Australia Greenstar design and as-built tools would best meet their needs and aspirations for the project, which has subsequently set a new benchmark."

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"It has been awarded the Green Building Council of Australia's highest accolade – a 6-Star Green Star As-Designed certification, which makes it the highest rated certified Green Star building in Western Australia."

The sustainability focus meant it was essential that the design would respond well to the site and be a showcase for modern office design.

"The Katitjin Centre has a splendid backdrop, with a belt of virgin bush land to the south," says Chaney. "This became the driver for the enormous picture window wall. Maintaining the existing landscaping was also a priority – we wanted to keep as many of the mature trees on site as possible.

"AIM WA liked the idea of a campus-style aesthetic. The institute already had two buildings on the site, and it was important that the new architecture maintain the integrity of the campus, providing a sense of visual continuity."

With this in mind, the design team created a covered walkway that provides a cross-campus pedestrian axis connecting the buildings. A soaring reinforced fibreglass canopy at the front of the building opens up the centre visually, and helps to shade the expansive glazing on the north elevation.

The sense of transparency and openness is also evident in the double-height reception atrium, which is overlooked by mezzanine walkways. A large timber batten screen around a bulkhead helps to define the guest seating at one side of the reception area, and visually compresses this space, making it more intimate.

Circulation on the interior of the new building is enhanced by a central spine that fosters staff and participant interaction and reinforces the sense of transparency and openness.

In addition to office space, the new building has eight full-size training rooms, two breakout rooms and outdoor entertaining areas. Large sliding doors and operable walls provide flexibility and connectivity within the building, and open up to the terraces on two levels.

The institute says opening up the training rooms to the views creates a soft, restful outlook for clients who are frequently participating in full-day seminar sessions. And the expansive glazing ensures there is plenty of natural light, minimising the need for artificial sensor-controlled lighting. The smart site orientation and double glazing also reduce the building's thermal loads, so the air conditioning and ventilation system doesn't need to work as hard, and there is a constant flow of fresh air improving the indoor air quality.

The Green Building Council Australia says the centre is emissions neutral. Photovoltaic cells produce as much energy in operation as baseline power. Other key sustainable design features include water-efficient fixtures and fittings; a water harvesting system that is directed for use in toilets and urinals; and the use of paints and carpets with low or no VOCs, improving indoor air quality.

Gary Martin says the facility will have ongoing benefits for clients.

"It offers a tangible experience that provides our clients with the knowledge, enthusiasm and confidence that green buildings are possible, practical and can deliver real benefits to users."

First published date: 16 November 2012

Credit List

Location Katitjin Centre, Australian Institute of Management, Floreat, Western Australia
Architect Cox Howlett & Bailey Woodland; Fred Chaney, project director; John Lee, project architect; Mario Celik, design architect; Anna-Maree Farris, interior designer; Edwin Tee, documentation
Interior designer Anna-Maree Farris, Cox Howlett & Bailey Woodland
Civil engineer Capital House Australia
Mechanical and electrical engineer; fire consultant Norman Disney & Young
Quantity surveyor Ralph Beattie Bosworth
Construction company PS Structures
Landscaping Aecom
Cladding Go-Crete precast concrete
Glazing system Veridian from Pappas Glass
Security system Signature Security
Lift services Kone
Operable walls Hufcor
Blinds Derrick Sambrook
Flooring Zuccari tiles; Interface carpet
Feature ceiling Screenwood by Danoline
Veneers Navlam Sandblasted Oak
Paints Wattyl
Reception furniture Maxton Fox Wave chair and table; Schamberg + Alvisse Pete Lounge; Pebble ottoman; Flynn table from Zenith Interiors