The new offices of the Melbourne City Council known as Council House 2 (or CH2) represents the cutting edge of environmentally friendly building design.
Opened in August 2006, this multi award winning project is the first Australian commercial building to achieve a 6 Green Star rating from the Green Building Council of Australia. The 6 star accreditation confirms the building’s status as a world leading example of “eco friendly design” both in terms of technology and innovation.
The building includes a host of technologies to reduce its consumption of gas, electricity and water, to significantly reduce its emission of greenhouse gases, and to create a more engaging environment for its occupants. One of the features of the project was the inclusion of vertical green facade screens on either side of the north facing balconies.
Now commonly called the Northern Terraces, the balconies enjoy the growing protection and visual amenity of a lush growth of flora growing vertically up the mesh screen from planters at each level. The screens provide the plants with essential structure, each screen climbing 9 floors in height and utilizing a mesh aperture carefully matched to the plant species. Each screen forms a tensile cable net comprised of Carl Stahl X-TEND tensile mesh and bordered by tensile structural cables.
From an early stage, Ronstan Tensile Architecture was engaged to assist architects Design Inc with detailed green facade design development, before being contracted by the builder to manufacture components and supply and install the final product. The Ronstan solution involved consideration of the input loads likely to be applied by the plants when fully grown along with apparent wind loads. This was necessary to create an optimised screen of minimal structure.
A key requirement for the design was to compliment the building’s architecture, but above everything else, the design had to allow the plants to have centre stage. Occupants of CH2 now enjoy reduced glare and improved natural light through a vertical garden, while enjoying a green outlook so rare in today’s cities.