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Current as of 22/10/14 07:20AM NZST

Fonterra HQ reflects link with land

By Colin Taylor

Colin Taylor takes a detailed look at the dairy giant's new Viaduct base

Artist's impression of the new Fonterra headquarters looking east on Fanshawe St.
Artist's impression of the new Fonterra headquarters looking east on Fanshawe St.

Fonterra's new head office in Auckland's Viaduct precinct was conceived "from the ground up" to recognise that the dairy giant's products originate with the land, says John Dakin, CEO of Goodman Property Trust, which is developing the site with Fletcher Building.

"We as developers and designers had very explicit instructions from Theo Spierings, Fonterra's chief executive," Dakin says. "Theo told us that the farming cooperative was closely linked to the land so it was important this building reflected Fonterra's values - including its environmentally conscious and sustainable approach to business."

In giving a detailed description of the new seven-storey headquarters Dakin says the "land and sustainability concepts" will be dominant throughout the 15,997 sq m building over which Fonterra has taken a 15-year lease including naming rights with two eight-year rights of renewal.

He also revealed that Fonterra's big Te Rapa dairy factory, outside Hamilton, had a subtle but significant influence on the Fanshawe St appearance of the new headquarters.

"While Fonterra stressed they didn't want something that was over-the-top, this building definitely won't just be a big glass corporate box," Dakin says.

"Everything in this five-star green designed building including the selection of exterior and interior colours will reflect its rural aspect and a respect for the immediate environment."

The firm's 1000-plus employees and visitors to the building will approach the entrance via a landscaped "parkland" northern plaza featuring manicured lawns and gardens that are irrigated by rainwater channelled from the building. Only after it has been filtered and purified through the gardens in a bioremediation process will the water enter the stormwater system.

In addition to "low-flow technology" employed within the building's water services, the rainwater runoff from the building will also be used to reduce water consumption in areas like the toilets.

The landscaping of the 4266 sq m site, owned by Viaduct Harbour Holdings and leased in perpetuity by Goodman as the building's owner, has been designed to harmonise with the green fields of Victoria Park to the south and also the historic urban context of the site.

Dakin says the history of the site will be acknowledged in the design of the building and environs. "Local iwi traded here and, after European settlement, it was a waterfront centre for the collection of logs and timber.

"A commitment has been made to recycle 70 per cent or more of the demolition and construction waste from the site.

"Recyled materials like steel and low environment impact timber are also being used where possible in the building itself and also within the landscaping that will include street furniture."

Pedestrians entering from the northern plaza courtyard will share an access link road while staff who opt to bike to work will have the use of 100 cycle parks within the basement of the building along with their own lockers and showers.

The basement will also house motorcycle parking, the service plant including an emergency power generator and 189 car parks.

Four parking spaces for disabled drivers will be located on the ground level.

Persons coming into the building from the northern courtyard will walk up wide open terraced stairs to the first floor reception level where a central atrium, and its bridges, dominates the internal design.

It is envisaged that a cafe and retail outlet, occupying the expansive ground floor area below the stairway, will encourage "social interaction" among employees and visitors within the building.

Michael Gimblett, Goodman's development manager, says the north- west aspects of each floor will look out to the landscaped plaza and will "house the social and meeting hubs of each level".

Gimblett says energy conservation was a major consideration in the construction of the building to fit in with Fonterra's commitment to sustainable production.

"The building walls will predominantly feature double skin glass facades that will permit the influx of a high degree of natural light while limiting air-conditioning requirements and moderating interior solar temperature gains.

The exterior glass facades will also allow for excellent views - particularly to the north over the plaza and to the harbour; and to the south over Victoria Park. "Likewise, the large office floor plates with a net lettable area of between 2050 to 2350 square metres per level and the central atrium will further enhance the building's natural light capabilities and exterior views."

Gimblett says the northwestern corner of the building "has been conceived as a lantern". This area will be glazed with a high performance glass to permit maximum viewing of the plaza below and to "provide enhanced occupant comfort". Other windows on the northern face will be protected from the sun with external shading louvres.

He says further conservation design factors include a high level of insulation; energy efficient lighting; and modern air conditioning that will minimise the consumption of energy.

Open stair connections will encourage employees to walk between floors, while locating the building's elevator core within the central atrium space has allowed the building to contain large regular contiguous floor plates.

These floors are open to multiple interior fit-out and "tenant-driven integrated designs" that "facilitate employee engagement" and which are conducive to "collaborative working, maximum productivity and the application of different working styles including the modern concept of activity based working".

Gimblett says that overall the building, which will be installed with the latest technology in fire alarm, sprinkler and security systems, will constitute a "healthy workplace with good acoustic performance".

On the less glamorous side, one of the practical aspects that must be factored into every building is the ducts providing water, air, wastewater and other essential services.

"The service ducts on the building have been left exposed in a design created by architects Jasmax and inspired by the road frontage appearance of Fonterra's Te Rapa dairy factory," Dakin says.

"We think this adds to the practical and industrial look of the building which mirrors the fact that Fonterra is a global milk-processing and product manufacturing company."

Dakin says the new building will provide "a massive economic and visual injection" to the whole of Auckland and particularly the Viaduct precinct.

"This will be as good as any Goodman owned building in the world and its location will highlight the fact that our city is heading back towards its origins with the harbour and the water," he says.

Gimblett says the Fanshawe St and Halsey St corner site, which is part of a larger block being developed by Fletcher Building, is ideally placed on the "gateway to the CBD" and will have a high profile to traffic heading into the central city from the harbour bridge.

"Additionally the building and its many employees will provide a catalyst for further retail and residential development within the area between the Fonterra site and the ASB building on the corner of Halsey St and Jellicoe St in the Wynyard Quarter," he says.

- NZ Herald

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