Location: Ropes Crossing, NSW
Photography: Brett Boardman
The Australian Defence Forces had maintained a very large military training facility in the centre of suburban Western Sydney since the nineteenth century. These lands have in recent years been converted to a mix of extensive regional parklands and low density, free-standing single dwelling estate housing.
The urbanised components of this extensive re-development were master-planned in accordance with the principles of New Urbanism, with a focus upon creation of human-scaled environments, early provision of public infrastructure and amenities, and long-term environmental sustainability.
The brief for this project called for a contemporary commercial sales and office facility that would eventually be converted to on office/retail or community use. The building is situated centrally within the new town centre, adjacent to a central park. It was conceived as an urban building in that it works with other new projects to form a legible, well-scaled edge to the public space of the new central park.
A simple rectangular box-form clad with surface-fixed integral dark-grey coloured CFC sheet paneling wraps the upper level office space, which is fully glazed on the longer northern and southern facades to maximise natural cross ventilation and light. Banks of external adjustable louvers allow occupants to control internal lighting, cross ventilation and solar ingress.
The upper level rests on and cantilevers over a grid of linear off form concrete portals that provide rhythm to the street façade at footpath level and visual permeability into and through the Sales and Information Centre on the ground floor.
The end facades are fenestrated with carefully composed, natural plywood-lined openings. These facades address both the main vehicular approach to the town centre and a small piazza at the eastern end of the development. The cladding comprises variable width CFC sheet panels with unbroken vertical joints and randomly staggered horizontals, in order to express the non-structural nature of the cladding. The wall cladding returns to the soffits of the cantilevered first floor element, to express the sculptural and three-dimensional qualities of the form.
A strip timber element housing an LED clock hovers over this public space, to address a client brief requirement that a clock-tower be included in the design concept.