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Green Case Study - Surry Hills Community Centre

Published12 Jul 2021
Written ByRebecca Fox

Sustainable buildings are the way of the future. Never has it been more imperative to design and build structures that touch the earth as lightly as possible.

Surry Hills Library and Community Centre by Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp won the National Award for Sustainable Architecture at the AIA’s 2010 National Architecture Awards.

Not only does the centre achieve excellence in sustainable design, but it also sets new benchmarks in environmental performance for multi-purpose public buildings.

Many design features have been employed to achieve significant savings in energy including high levels of natural light throughout the building and daylight-controlled light fixtures. The large louvre facade, which also looks aesthetically remarkable, moves and ‘tracks’ the sun to control internal glare and heat levels – an element that we’re seeing used more commonly in designs nowadays.

According to the City of Sydney, the building has a unique air quality system using the natural filtering properties of plants. Further, the air is naturally cooled under the building, reducing the need for artificial cooling by some 50%.

According to diagrams, the process works by drawing air in at the top of the atrium before the air passes through special plants acting as ‘passive’ filters. Air then flows under the building where its temperature is conditioned by a thermal labyrinth, a series of high thermal-mass rock baskets. From there, the filtered and cooled air flows throughout the different levels of the building. Pretty phenomenal stuff!

Natural grasses on the roof reduce energy loss and movement-controlled lighting for the public workspaces to ensure energy is not unnecessarily used. In addition, solar panels on the roof provide supplementary power to the building.

According to Architecture AU, a geothermal heat exchanger provides an additional control device and the placement of “green” bio-filter gardens at ground level absorbs CO2 and releases O2, acting as passive filtration to the controlled air environment. This design was instigated by FJMT and represents a move to better air within the enclosed space. To date, the system appears to be resulting in more active work environments meaning not only is this system more beneficial from an environmental standpoint, but it also facilitates better working conditions.

The building is made of sustainable materials that were selected for their durability and sustainability, including Decor Systems DecorZen and DecorStyle.

We are extremely proud to have our materials in such a remarkable and sustainably driven building.

The Surry Hills Library marries the best of architecture and environmental management, setting a terrific precedent for future buildings.

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