Located in the inner-Eastern Perth suburb of Welshpool, Sanwell's new headquarters presents a contemporary language whilst respecting the surrounding industrial precinct aesthetic, proposing a complex, sustainable solution to a constantly evolving and challenging client brief.

The form seeks to explore the proposition of how a commercial office can sit harmoniously within a staunchly industrial context, while still providing visual connectivity to the surrounds and amenity to natural light.

Aesthetically it functions as both a homage to and an updated form of the adjacent factory typology, utilizing the existing language and vernacular of the industrial, while re-imagining it as a visually permeable beacon of sustainability, amenity and future flexibility.

Through close collaboration with client, the bare-bones original project scope evolved to encompass a more complex and complete resolution to the extremely acute needs of the eventual users. This synergistic journey of both architect and client led to a radical re-imagining of the traditional tilt-up industrial office, resulting in a dynamic split level, cantilevered office structure wrapped in permeable aluminium brise-soleil.


The brief was initially simple and developed its complexity through ongoing rebriefing between the Client and Architect.

The resulting briefs primary points were:

  • To connect and respond to the company’s existing office on the adjacent site
  • To be efficient and effective in its spatial planning
  • Fluidity and adaptability for both current and future usage between 20 to 50 users +
  • To perform as both an open plan and closed office configuration
  • Ability to encourage connection or allow for separation between various user groups or departments in the office structure
  • A commercial need for minimal site footprint whilst abiding by stringent local planning policies
  • Semi-trailer vehicular access to rear of site
  • To reduce the pure square meter space of the companies premises by creating intelligent, efficient work-stations
  • Maximise land use and access for the external company operations


The design team saw future-proofing as potentially the most environmentally sound aspect of the scheme. In an industrial context of cheap, disposable construction; an intelligent, well considered design with an emphasis on future re-use would result in an office with a long life-span. In this context and building typology scale that typically considers ESD principles as a low priority, this project used these to its advantage and proves that ESD is absolutely valid, and cost effective in all forms of building as the way of the future.


A combination of many contextual factors contributed to the major design decisions of the Sanwell Offices. The sloping natural contours of the site led the design team to implement a split-level spatial solution, using the slope as a device to create under-croft storage spaces and a mezzanine office floor.

The industrial surroundings meant that the best access to clean air, light and views would be found at height. This, coupled with restrictive council limitations on total site areas, led the design team to raise the habitable work-stations within the higher rungs of the split-level design.

In turn, this prioritisation of vehicular site access and area created problems with the solar orienteering of these habitable spaces. In response to this, the design team employed a building-wide brise-soleil shading system. This extensive system boasts several levels of permeability, with the locations dependent upon both the nature of the enclosed spaces, and the projected sun penetration.


Through a strong emphasis on flexibility and adaptability within the design, the Sanwell office buildings projected lifespan has been dramatically increased. The deliberate provision for both changing technologies and business growth or restructuring have ensured that the building will maintain relevance and value, growing and changing with its occupants.

The building incorporates:

  • Brise-Soleil shading system
  • 30kW photovoltaic panels
  • High level operable awnings and louvres
  • Composite insulated roof paneling with appropriate overhang
  • Deciduous planting around exterior
  • Low-water requirement vegetation
  • Mechanical systems for maximizing cross-ventilation
  • Electrically controlled windows
  • Off-grid water treatment
  • Reverse brick veneer
  • Thermal mass
  • End of trip facilities to encourage the use of sustainable methods of transport
  • Flexible, dynamic design solutions to maximize building longevity and continued future use


Many of the materials were chosen for their ability to be re-used and recycled at the end of their life cycle. For example, the extensive brise-soleil sun shading system is composed of anodised aluminium, which is both recycled and fully recyclable. The carpeting throughout has a guaranteed end of life-cycle buy back for the purpose of recycling. Similarly, the CSR Barestone material has been detailed in a way which allows it to be disassembled at the end of its lifespan and re-used, rather than demolished.

Aesthetically, the strong metallic material palette was chosen to evoke the surrounding factory typology, in order to both reference the existing, and present a new prototype for sustainable commercial development in the area.

Locker Group (metal perforation) by WA Anodisers

CSR Barestone

Renewable Energy International

Austral Ply hoop pine plywood

Bondor, composite roof panel 150mm Surf mist