One hundred percent fresh air, a machine that parks your car for you, and an office that stays cool without air conditioning – the future is here, and if the Geyser building in Parnell is anything to go by, it’s going to be very green.
The building, designed by Andrew Patterson of Patterson Associates and owned by Samson Corporation, is the first in the country to ever receive six stars in a Green Star rating. Green Star is a system that assesses how environmentally friendly buildings are, and six stars is the highest rating possible.
Traditional buildings are often a rectangular shape with lifts in the middle and offices around the edge, which means each office only gets one wall of glass, or maybe two if they are lucky enough to be on a corner.
In stark contrast, Geyser is divided into five sub-buildings and arranged around two courtyards with pedestrian links, giving each tenant light and air on three sides. The feel of the building is open and “ethereal”.
Patterson says the courtyard component injects a whole new social aspect to the workplace.
“It means rather than getting into a lift, whistling and starting at the ceiling, people can interact with each other and chat. They can have lunch in the sun in the courtyards. It’s a nice place to work, there’s a free flow of interaction.”
Patterson says it follows that Geyser is a pleasant place to be.
“The ecology of a building is really easy to measure. You can measure the temperature and the amount of fresh air,” he says.
“The poetics of a space are much harder to measure.”
However, Patterson says when the ecology of a building is good, the feel of a building will always be good, and vice versa.
A range of groundbreaking, eco-friendly features mean Geyser uses nearly a third less energy than average buildings of the same size, and half the amount of water and artificial light.
Each sub-building within Geyser is wrapped in a twin façade – two glass walls with an air gap in between. Inside the two façades is a mirror box. The mirror box traps warm air between the two walls during winter and then in summer, the outer wall opens electronically to release excess heat. The innovation is one of Patterson’s favourite green features and means air-conditioning is not necessary.
The facade also means Geyser is supplied with 100 percent fresh air, compared with the 25 percent most air-conditioned offices in New Zealand have to put up with.
“I’m really happy with how the mirror box came out,” says Patterson. “It’s a concept that’s quite new internationally.”
Additionally, the building’s toilets and irrigation system are supplied by rainwater.
“To be an elegant solution, a design has to solve multiple problems,” says Patterson.
While he has designed a number of sustainable buildings, they haven’t always been put forward for Green Star ratings.
“With Geyser, it has been quite nice to have it actually recognised like this,” he says.
In total, the building has 24 offices and six retail spaces. It has 182 car parks and an automated car stacker – drivers park in a virtual garage, where a turntable spins the car around and takes it to a space.
Samson Corporation general manager Marco Creemers says Geyser ticks many boxes.
“It’s not only architecturally innovative, it offers huge cost-savings for businesses with an impressive range of green features and a workplace to be proud of.”
Geyser became available for lease on September 1.