Private Commission 2009.
The Q Stores building in Bourke Road, Alexandria, was designed by Harry Seidler for the NSW Government Stores in 1968. It is a relatively unusual example of Harry Seidler’s work – he designed approximately 180 buildings but only 3 warehouses / industrial buildings and while not one of his more famous buildings, this building does contain some impressive elements of industrial building design of that era – particularly the use of a space frame for the roof, the tapering concrete columns and the u-shaped type of glazing used for highlighting.
As the internal height is not rational for warehouse use and the front and rear courtyards not large enough for modern truck access, Goodman the new owner of the building decided to adaptively reuse it as high-technology industry units.
Lacoste + Stevenson were commissioned to refurbish this significant building.
The architectural approach taken to Harry Seidler’s Q Stores in Bourke Road, Alexandria is to treat it as a heritage item. While it is not listed as such, the proposed architectural intervention is strengthened by this approach as it keeps the original building facades mostly in tact and the internal additions are placed so that they have as little impact as possible on the impressive space fame.
The aim of the adaptive reuse proposal is to retain this important building by introducing a variety of high-tech uses housed in pods that sit within the original structure. The pods form a collection of work places along a central “avenue” beneath the substantial skylights that dominate the roof. The visibility of the space frame is retained along the length of the avenue and retains its prominence as pod walls set back at high level.
The central avenue is activated by the glass-fronted work places, a café and a gym. The avenue is furnished and planted so as to make it a space that is used by people working at Q Stores. The avenue leads to a new opening and deck in the western wall. (Refer to the Landscape Report for details).
Work place pods are strategically located in relation to the skylights to ensure that natural light enters the building. As well as the central avenue, courtyards are created under skylights between pods as additional public open space. Openings under skylights are either single storey or double height depending on their location and function in relation to open space or within a work area.
Work pods are flexible, open plan areas that suit a variety of fit-outs. They are either single or double storey spaces with access from stairs and lifts in the public open space or internal stairs. The construction is a combination of solid walls with substantial areas of glass shop fronts that may include graphics and colour. Care will be taken to detail the construction of walls to ensure that they are detailed to work with the space frame members.
The Basement Level car park proposes infilling the loading docks with a steel and mesh structure to make full use of the level for car parking. Access from this level to the ground floor is via a new stairwell and lift. Shower facilities are includes on this level to encourage use of the bicycles.
Externally, the Q Stores will appear little changed to the casual observer from Bourke Road. The most noticeable change driving by will be the landscape treatment in the car park and along the street edge (Refer to the Landscape Report for details).
The Bourke Street façade roller shutter openings will be converted to large glazed doors and a screen with the existing glass C channels at high-level extended across the opening. New window openings will be made in the same style as the existing windows.
The northern and southern facades are less visible and it is proposed to add the necessary fire stairs and any services plant along these edges in the pebble beds along side the paths.
The western façade retains the sun shading element, adds new windows to suit the existing precast panel modules and a new balcony and stair as homage in a Seidleresque style.
The roof is dotted with substantial skylights which have driven the planning of work places below, the natural ventilation and smoke exhaust. Their importance to the suitability of this adaptive reuse cannot be underestimated. 4 new skylights have been added and the existing ones are adapted by removing the roof sheeting, replacing the opaque sheeting with translucent or adding operable louvres.
Urbis, Stephen Davies