16/06/2020 - 10:35

Design sparks office renewal

16/06/2020 - 10:35

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Blending the boundaries between old and new has resulted in Cox Architecture being named finalists in the 2020 WA Architecture Awards.

Cox Architecture’s design vision for 125 and 432 Murray Street was brought to life earlier this year. Photos: Gabriel Oliveira

Blending the boundaries between old and new has resulted in Cox Architecture being named finalists in the 2020 WA Architecture Awards.

Recent design projects by Cox Architecture are proof that a wrecking ball isn’t always needed to rescue a derelict streetscape.

The design company finished works on two Murray Street offices in the CBD earlier this year, transforming outdated façades and interiors into inviting contemporary spaces.

The properties, located at 125 and 432 Murray Street, have since been selected as finalists in the 2020 WA Architecture Awards, with winners to be announced on June 26.

Cox Architecture director Bret White said work on the two buildings followed a similar brief: refresh an existing older building to boost occupancy appeal.

“Perth’s a very young city in terms of European standards and I guess we’ve come from a history where we easily knock things down,” Mr White told Business News.

“I think Perth is growing up a little bit and starting to think smarter about retaining, recycling, and adapting older buildings.”

Mr White said 432 Murray Street owner Warrington Property approached Cox Architecture soon after purchasing the property, seeking to renew its lobby and front façade.

“It was what clever things can we do … to bring the building up to speed,” he said.

“Giving it an intelligent front door to emit a slightly more contemporary face to the street and a hallmark to the building itself, to feel like you’re coming into a place you want to walk into – that 25-second experience where you come through the front door.

“The front foyer was about … not just doing the normal lifeless space [but] offering a range of ‘hang’ space where you can work down there or meet people down there, have a meeting down there.”

Mr White said the end result was revamping an early 2000s building by creating a place that combined features of hotel and office lobbies with typical meeting spaces, as well as making the street-facing ground floor fully transparent by replacing the glass.

Similarly, Silverleaf Investments was seeking to create a new lease of life for its 125 Murray Street property, which was built in the 1980s, with more of an emphasis on upgrading the building’s services.

Mr White said Cox Architecture sought to rethink the structure’s DNA to consider what would make the building perform better, with minimal cost.

“[T]aking out the ceilings allowed us to garner more natural light into the building and explore more intelligent lighting systems,” he said.

Part of the project involved reactivating the laneway to the right of the property that connected Murray and Hay streets through to Cathedral Square, working alongside Historic Heart, a non-profit focused on revitalising Perth’s east end.

Mr White said Silverleaf was interested in how the building could be repurposed to contribute to more than just a refurbishment, but also to the streetscape and the precinct.

“We were able to make the project contribute back into an evolving eastern fabric of the city,” he said.

“I certainly think it will influence its neighbours in terms of trying to slowly create better and more consistent refurbishments eastwards.”

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