When it comes to mixed-use developments in Sydney’s ever-evolving CBD, it doesn’t get much better than Darling Square. A stone’s throw away from the CBD and iconic Darling Harbour precinct, the new Darling Square project boasts world-class design by international heavyweight Kengo Kuma and local powerhouses FJMT and Woods Bagot, and combines commercial, retail, and residential space within a neighbourhood-style master plan. At the heart of this is Lendlease’s new 7-storey, campus-style headquarters for Commonwealth Bank Australia. The Grade A development takes a strong focus on occupant amenity and sustainability, and is currently targeting a 6-Star Green Star rating and 5-star NABERS rating. 

Designed by local firm Woods Bagot in conjunction with Lendlease, the CBA office reflects the latest and greatest in workspace design, providing offices that are sustainable, comfortable, and designed to maximise amenity and functionality. The landmark project demanded landmark, bespoke design in all aspects, including service integration. To meet its complex ventilation and design requirements, Lendlease turned to specialists Armstrong Ceilings, who provided solutions for enhancing the ceiling’s design and thermal performance. “We selected Armstrong MetalWorks ceilings for their quality and appearance,” explained Rebecca Wood, Associate at Woods Bagot, “As well as their ability to meet open-air requirements for the proposed passive and active chilled beam mechanical design.” 

Indeed, integrating services into the ceiling grid without compromising on aesthetics was one of the project’s greatest challenges. The service design featured a combination of active chilled beams – where the cooling unit sits in the ceiling itself – and passive chilled beams, where air flows through the ceiling. Both types of chilled beam meant that the ceiling needed to provide space for airflow without affecting air temperature. In turn, this meant that a conventional mineral fibre ceiling system was inappropriate, and a metal solution had to be used instead. 

Having previously worked on a number of similar high profile, high-occupancy projects, Armstrong had a wealth of knowledge and experience from which to draw in designing the ceiling solution for Darling Square. The Armstrong team worked closely with Woods Bagot and the team at Lendlease to fine tune the design and seamlessly integrate custom details into the ceiling. Over 30,000m2 of Armstrong Metalworks Modular ceiling was specified, providing a flexible, fully accessible contemporary ceiling that sat within the building’s grid. 

The project is a testament to Armstrong’s strong in-house customisation capabilities and highly skilled design team. “Our in-house design and project management teams helped us customise many elements of the ceiling to make it fully integrated with the fabric of the building,” said Luis Rodriguez, NSW State Manager of Armstrong Ceilings, “Each custom designed ceiling system was comprehensively documented, then submitted to the Lendlease and Woods Bagot design teams for approval, before issuing construction drawings and detailed installation instructions to the various contractors.” 

The unique design of Darling Square posed a number of challenges for the 1500mm modular nature of the ceiling, these being: the integration of both active and passive chilled beam systems, the impact of a facetted façade, and a requirement for ceiling alignment with the window mullions, core and atrium. Combined, these challenges necessitated the creation of smaller “make-up” 1000 and 500mm modules.

Three bespoke metal ceiling finishes were chosen and installed in pre-arranged patterns to help delineate areas of use. Armstrong’s innovative solution featured a number of distinctive finishes to achieve different aesthetics while maintaining a cohesive overall look and feel throughout the project.

Warm Armstrong WoodEffects ceilings bring communal spaces to life, while black ceilings mark out circulation space and white ceilings are positioned above work areas. To ensure cohesion across the entire office, Armstrong carefully managed the various ceiling transitions, including creating custom solutions for the bulkhead at the atrium and pelmet arrangements at the perimeter. Air flow spill from the active chilled beams at the building perimeter was also addressed via the addition of an insulation blanket behind the ceiling panels in this area.

At every stage, the success of the project was driven by open and ongoing communication with the client, our contractors and Woods Bagot. “Everyday problem solving is part of the process to reaching a well-resolved design and ensuring that it can work on site,” said Rebecca, “Detail components, extrusions, and abutments to other materials were resolved with Armstrong in a seamless process.” 

Learn more about Armstrong Ceilings’ broad product catalogue and extensive customisation capabilities at https://www.armstrongceilings.com/commercial/en-au/.