Striking facade treatments give commercial office building a prominent presence

As the first stage of evolving Sylvia Park from a retail and entertainment centre to a fully fledged mixed-use development, No.1 Sylvia Park office building has been wrapped in eye-catching facades – like a beautifully packaged purchase

Architectus’ design of the first commercial office building architecture, building, commercial building, office building, corporate headquarters, facade, mixed-use, project, property, urban design, cladding, Architectus, Sylvia park
Architectus’ design of the first commercial office building at Sylvia Park incorporates striking facade treatments that give the building a prominent presence at the epicentre of the shopping centre site. While retaining the continuity of black and white striations, the facades transition from being relatively solid on the south side, next to the motorway, to highly transparent on the north face, to take in the views.

Go to a large shopping centre on a Saturday morning and it may take a while to find a decent parking space. So how does that square up with the repeated pronouncements that bricks-and-mortar retail is dead?

Add to that the amount of investment going into improving and expanding major shopping centres around the country, and it’s obvious some developers have a more lively view of the future of retail.

Greg Tolley, development manager at Kiwi Property, says that there’s a flight to quality, and that good shopping centres such as the company’s Sylvia Park operation are still trading well.

“People are social and they still want to get out from behind their computers and have real life experiences and interactions,” he says.

“But there has to be a reason to go to a centre, so there needs to be a mix of facilities including retail, food and beverage, movies, gyms and specialist outlets such as optometrists.”

Now there’s another reason for some people to head to Sylvia Park – for work – with the completion of office building No.1 Sylvia Park on the site.

“We’ve always had aspirations for Sylvia Park to be more than just a shopping centre and to be a mixed-use centre – the first component being this office building.”

Tolley says that given its position on the site, No.1 Sylvia Park needed to have prominence and create a sense of arrival.

“It also had to integrate into the existing centre – we didn’t want it to be like an island, isolated from the retail facilities.”

The task of designing the 10-storey building to meet these requirements fell to Architectus.

Alternating black and white projections on the south architecture, building, commercial building, corporate headquarters, windows, facade, headquarters, urban design, south facade,  No 1 Sylvia Park
Alternating black and white projections on the south facade of No.1 Sylvia Park end in bay windows that give glimpses of traffic on the motorway running parallel to this facade.

Principal in charge, Severin Soder, says the process started with a master plan for Kiwi Property’s future development concept of all the Sylvia Park site and then focussed on the position and design of this first new building – a commercial office building.

“We looked at several options for where to place the building, and decided that it should be at the epicentre of the shopping centre,” says Soder.

At this point, the existing dining lane had ended in a landscaped plaza and small carpark.

“We extended the dining lane with three new food and beverage outlets on the ground floor, and developed the office building above those.”

This north side of the site now forms The Grove dining precinct, including grassed and landscaped areas for public use, and a quirky sound shell by Wraight & Associates that opens to provide a stage for entertainers, and provides a wind break function.

Soder says No.1 Sylvia Park needed to be designed as a landmark building rather than the typical office park building.

“It’s in a retail environment – with a lot of fashion retail. When you buy something like perfume, it comes in a beautiful bottle and is wrapped with beautiful packaging.

“The building itself is cuboid, and we looked at the envelope and how we could wrap and package it.”

The result is a building with four distinct facades. But these are not just decorative, surface treatments – instead they are integral to the design and functioning of the building.

To gain as much space as possible for the new dining precinct, the building was pushed as close as possible to the south of the site, adjacent to the motorway overpass running in an east-west direction.

“So we placed the core on the south side, and this facade is quite solid with few openings. But it has strong black and white projections forming bay windows looking east and west to pick up on the directional movement of the traffic.”

The east and west facades are more transparent, having more windows. The striated effect continues here through the addition of vertical sunshades to counter the effect of low sun.

“The north facade transitions again to become even more transparent. Behind this facade’s horizontal black and white sunshades is a fully glazed curtain wall, giving outlooks to Mt Wellington.”

The result is a building with abstract qualities, and a different appearance as you travel round it.

There’s as much thought gone into the interior planning as the exterior activation of the building.

With a cafe and a variety of seating architecture, building, furniture, interior design, cafe, lobby, No 1 Sylvia park
With a cafe and a variety of seating options available, No.1 Sylvia Park’s lobby offers tenants another potential meeting place outside of their own offices.

The large open floor plates are organised to create vertical villages, with three atria stacked on top of each other pushing light into the floors.

Inter-tenancy stairs suspended in each of the atria create a strong sculptural focus and provide an attractive alternative to using a lift linking multi-level tenants.

Greg Tolley says Kiwi Property’s drive to mixed use is fuelled by the symbiotic relationship between the building’s tenants and centre’s retailers.

And No.1 Sylvia Park is just the first building in the wider plan for future development of the site.

“We’re investigating a hotel in the mid term and residential living options beyond that. Further, our proposed 25-year masterplan includes additional future commercial buildings and retail facilities.”

Credit list

No.1 Sylvia Park, Auckland
Dominion Constructors
Structural Engineer
Holmes Consulting Group
Quantity surveyor
Rider Levett Bucknall
Fire consultant
On Fire
North facade – Thermosash Curtain Wall Glazing & Sunshades; east and west facades – Thermosash windows, Concretec precast concrete; Insol – aluminium fins, panels and louvres
Security system
Public area wallcoverings
Florim Magnum Porcelain from European Ceramics; Oak Tora from VidaSpace
Resene paints and plasters; Dulux powdercoats
Kiwi Property Group
Project management
Pragmatix Limited
Civil engineer
Aecom Consulting
Mechanical and electrical
Norman Disney & Young
Wraight & Associates
Lift services
Rooflogic Ultratherm MSR and Extreme, by SWP Commercial
Public area flooring
European Ceramics Atlanic Stone, installed by European Stone Masons
Lobby ceiling
Armstong Metalworks; Insol custom ceiling
Heating/air conditioning
A E Smith

Story by: Paul Taylor

Photography by: Jamie Cobel

03 Jun, 2019

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