As a part of the Central Park precinct development in Sydney, Tzannes Associates have injected a trigeneration plant into a century-old building and made the system’s bulky cooling towers an architectural feature.  

Originally designed by Maurice Halligan and F. H. B. Wilton and constructed in 1912, the Kent Brewery building is one of the three brick and sandstone buildings that remain on the Central Park Precinct site that will be developed in two stages.

As part of stage one, developers Frasers Property Australia and Sekisui House Australia briefed Tzannes Associated to integrate the plant equipment for a development wide trigeneration plant within (and below) the Kent Street brewery.

Tzannes Associates went about this by reinventing and reusing some of existing building structure and by placing the bulkiest aspect of the tri-generation plant, its six massive cooling towers, on top of the old Kent Brewery’s roof. 

The 62-metre heritage listed chimney flue exhaust adjacent to the site’s old boiler house has been retained and creatively adapted to be used as the exhaust flue for the gas boiler in the new trigeneration plant. The actual plant is located below the ground level of the site and comprises two 1.1 megawatt reciprocating engines which will eventually produce enough low-emission electricity and thermal energy for the entire Central Park precinct through use of natural gas.

One of the walls was removed from the old brewery and replaced by a clear span portal frame while the remaining walls were shored up with steel framing. Photography by John Gollings

One of the 16 metre high boundary brick walls of the boiler house was removed to allow for an easier internal demolition, refurbishment and construction process and was replaced by a new efficient clear span portal frame solution. (See above)

On top of that frame sits a custom BlueScope Lysaght Bondek slab system, and on top of that, one of the most striking features of the repurposed building, the trigeneration cooling towers.

Six curved cooling towers are dressed in a custom-designed zinc-mesh supplied by Craft Metals. The transparency of the mesh is left minimal to enhance the solidity of the form while providing permeability for the cooling towers.

Rooftop view shows the new - One Central Park by Ateliers Jean Nouvel and PTW Architects (right), and the old - The UTS Tower by NSW Government Architect (top right). Photography by John Gollings.2015028760_5_TzannesAssociates_IrvingStreetBrewery_JohnGollings-1.jpg151111_perspective.jpg
The architectural mesh of the Irving Street Brewery directly faces the mesh facade of The University of Technology, Sydney’s (UTS) Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology by Denton Corker Marshall. Photography by John Gollings

The project was the recent recipient of the Lachlan Macquarie Award for Heritage at the 2015 National Architecture Awards, the jury calling the project an outstanding example of the retention and adaptive re-use of a significant heritage building.

“Tzannes Associates has created a landmark of almost futurist-inspired forms at the level of the skyline and people-scaled urban spaces at ground level,” explains the jury.

“The rooftop additions, clad in expanded metal mesh fabric, are exciting and dynamic, with a clear definition between old and new. These elegantly detailed forms stand in memorable contradistinction to the relatively uniform fabric of the surrounding highrise apartment towers and slabs.”

“In short, Tzannes Associates has provided the precinct with its first ‘monument’ and given identity to the series of substantial urban spaces and interconnections at ground level.”

The historic shell of the building now awaits a new public function and Tzannes Associates plan to use refurbished industrial parts from the old building for the fitout, including the brewery’s massive steel hoppers.