Reflecting Sustainability

Reflecting Sustainability

The new headquarters of ASB, ne of the largest providers of financial and insurance services in New Zealand, has a spectacular and probably unique structure on its roof.  The sail-like reflector is not only a spectacular architectural gesture, visually linking the very modern building to New Zealand’s traditional culture, it is also a significant element of the building’s lighting and ventilation systems.

At 40’ x 40’ x 20’, the reflector spans the roof, and sits atop a funnel structure that goes down into the heart of the building.  The reflector helps bring daylight into the funnel, where it is distributed through the interior.  The funnel also is part of a passive ventilation system. Fresh air enters the building through the manually operable windows.  Used air moves into the central atrium and then travels upwards through the funnel and out the roof of the building, drawn by the negative pressure of the prevailing winds across the roof enhanced by the reflector.

Australian architects Bligh Voller Nield Architecture (BVN), in association with Jasmax, developed the concept in response to the brief provided by the bespoke requirements of ASB and the developer, Kiwi Property Management Ltd.  BVN practice director Brian Clohessy says the building’s design team worked from three principles, “Sustainability and the ethical development of place, the seamless integration of public and corporate space and activities, and architectural expression.”

The reflector, designed by New Zealand composites experts PURE Design & Engineering Limited and fabricated by Yachting Developments, just across the harbor from the new ASB building, is made of a carbon fiber composite sandwich with a foam core.  It has a high-gloss finish which the is described as “usually only found on super yachts.”

This project reflects on the growth of FRP in architecture in two ways.  It is an ingenious use of the material both functionally and visually.  And we can’t help but notice that they got a boat-builder to make it.  One wonders how long it will be before architectural FRP fabricators are the norm?

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