A lot has been said about the closed cavity façade at the new golden tower at 200 George Street, but flying under the radar somewhat has been the building’s innovative podium and foyer design.

Architectural research and material application outfit, AR-MA was engaged by developer Mirvac as part of the specialist façade team who delivered the unique design that arranged shaped, frameless glass and 5-axis CNC-routed timber panels in a highly complex geometric pattern.

Also in the team were ARUP, who managed structural engineering, and Empire Glass and Aluminium, who managed fabrication and installation.

AR-MA maintained parametric design and fabrication models for all areas of their scope throughout the project. This allowed them to move the design outside of conventional building methods and proprietary products, and enabled massive customisation to produce a highly specific, intentional, and bespoke architecture.

5284.jpgPhotography by Brett Boardman5302-1.jpgImage: AR-MA

Instead of producing traditional drawing packages to outline construction and site installation, AR-MA worked directly with fabrication subcontractors so they were able to produce direct-to-fabrication, for-manufacture packages. These packages were used to produce highly complex building components within tight tolerances, in a way that wasn’t possible on site.

This agile manner of working allowed AR-MA to achieve high levels of geometric complexity in all areas of design, and quickly respond to any issues encountered on site. Over 550 panels of shaped, frameless glass and 1954 5-axis CNC-routed timber panels, fabricated in either glulam or Australian hoop pine plywood were designed by AR-MA for the building. 

5298-1.jpgImage: AR-MA


The 37-storeyed tower, designed by Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp (FJMT), offers approximately 39,200sqm of premium grade office space and is set to be one of Australia’s most environmentally advanced and sustainable developments as it targets a 6 Star Green Star – Design Office v3 certified rating, a 6 Star As Built rating, and a 5 Star NABERS rating.

FJMT have used timber and glass in a way never before seen in Australia. The building is clad top-to-[almost]bottom in Australia’s first pressurised closed cavity façade with built-in timber venetian blinds for solar shading.

Specifically, the building envelope of the tower contains approximately 16,000sqm of floor-to-ceiling Moisture-Maintenance Free, Sustainable, Closed Cavity Façade panels (M-free-SCCF) which are produced by architectural envelope specialists Permasteelisa Group. Fully automated timber venetians sit within the cavities of the panels and are controlled (opened and closed) by a building-wide IP network which offers sun-tracking, shadow management and integrated web based remote controls. 

The dynamic shading device plays a key role in the management of the heat and light transfer into the building, whereby glare and solar radiation can be controlled depending on the location of the sun relative to the building whilst also maximising the view. The blind motor manufacturer, Somfy, produced a 365 day suntracker model for all parts of 200-George’s façade meaning the building’s effectively knows where the sun should be at all parts of the day.