Author: David Rowlinson
Article first appeared in The West Australian
The City of Fremantle has pledged to work with Yolk Property Group on a six-level timber commercial building. The $13.5 million project will have 1,895 square metres of office space and a 150 square metre cafe or bar or shop at ground level, and feature a vertical garden across more than half of its exterior.
Yolk Property Group director Pete Adams said the developer was planning to ensure a “significant percentage” of materials were from natural sources, with an emphasis on natural materials, light, airflow and creating a healthy environment.
“Office workers spend eight hours a day indoors in offices that often lack adequate sunlight and fresh air and are surrounded by materials like plastic,” Mr Adams said. “It’s not really a healthy environment.”
He said workplaces made of natural materials such as wood, incorporated plants and good natural light contributed to happier, more productive employees. “Our aim with this building is not just to develop a highly sustainable building but to create an environment that has a positive impact on those in it,” he said.
“We want to re-imagine the idea of an office, producing spaces that employees will want to spend time in.”
Yolk has yet to get development approval but City of Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt said the project, with its small footprint, would likely have a “large positive social and environmental impact” using sustainable principles to “create positive outcomes for the community”.
The building will make use of solar photovoltaic and battery storage systems; have sub-metering systems for electricity and water for each tenancy; and “operable facade” to draw in cool air and empty out warm air; storm and grey water collection, distribution and recycling and a recycling system for shower and hand-basin water to water the planters in the green facade.
The first storey will be built using concrete and conventional building methods, but the plan was to build the upper office floors using cross laminated timber and mass timber.
If the Fremantle project is approved, it will also be a significant trail-blazing attempt, not just because of its use of timber construction, which is being used in more east coast commercial projects, but because of its sustainability.
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