ERA is inspired by the idea of creating a loose fit, sustainable working and shopping environment that is light filled, sunny and breezy to increase a sense of well-being for its occupants and visitors – a breathing environment rather than sealed container. The offices have access to a communal courtyard – a green space for relaxation, reading and conversation. The main design challenge was how to achieve conditions for passive design performance on a constrained infill site: specifically favourable orientation on an east-west facing site, cross flow ventilation for offices and natural light into the common circulation areas on a deep site.
ERA comprises two slim-line buildings that run east-west, for 44 small offices, split by a through-site, public pedestrian way that steps up from Springfield Avenue to Llankelly Place, a rear pedestrian lane that feeds onto Macleay Street, Potts Point, a night-time entertainment street packed with bars, restaurants and hotels. The building is finely integrated with the adjoining public domain. The ground floor arcades are lined with shops and a ‘basket’ supermarket is located in the basement, accessed from a small forecourt on Springfield Avenue.
The building is expressed as two elevated cubic forms, floating above a darkly coloured street base. The breezeway, which cuts through the full width of the site, is screened from the adjacent street, lane and public pedestrian way by fixed aluminium bar screens that appear as metallic veils to create a private capsule for interaction of office occupants.
The main climatic innovation is the central breezeway with gallery walkways for pedestrian access to the offices at each level which is located above the through site public way. The breezeway, based on the design of Sydney arcades, is an essential element of the passive design of the building. It is a tempered, semi-external space, which provides a sink of continually replenished cool air for cooling the offices at each level. The flow of cool air is induced into the offices through grills in the bulkheads over the galleries and ventilation louvres in the bulkhead above the glazed entry doors.
The breezeway is covered by a unique stepped and louvred glass roof whose shape is profiled to maintain air flow and protection from rain. The glazed roof profile allows the flow of cool, north-east breezes in summer from Elizabeth Bay and protection from rain-driven, southerly wind in winter. The breezeway also provides a filtered source of soft, glare-free, secondary light into the office modules through the glazed entry doors.
The office floor plan is typically based on a module of 60sqm plus 20sqm loggia. The typical office consists of an open plan work area extending onto the loggia; a service pod, fitted with kitchen, bathroom, communications dock, data hub, and space for recycling bin. The service pod is contained within a silver metallic clad box, adjacent to the entry. Office modules can be amalgamated to make a complete floor of 350sqm. The office component has achieved a simulated 4.5 star ABGR rating (5 star NABERS) based on a C02 emission of 90kg/sqm per annum.