Bendigo has a new police headquarters that feature luminous spatial qualities. Viridian have supplied all performance glass to the Bendigo headquarters, which includes inclined facade elements from 3.6m x 2.4m to varying smaller sections, 13.52mm heat strengthened Coolblue laminated. Behind the expressed façade is the standard clear glazing. On all other exposed facades is an 8.38mm Coolblue EnergyTech laminated by Viridian. All other internal glazing including windows and balustrades is clear laminate 10.38mm up to 12.38mm with some smaller panels of 6.38mm clear laminated.
Bendigo’s new regional base with sleek origami of lightweight construction and high performance glazing gives it scalpel contoured finesse. A lightweight construction, the building combines steel, glass and pre-finished cement sheet with pre-cast concrete panels. A horizontal waistline on the south-west elevation is repeated on the north-west main road (High Street) elevation and sculpts a concave envelope with a glazed overhang.
The idea of sustainability appears as a wholly integrated idea and in this respect the use of glazing to absorb light, yet be resistant to heat, is a central tenet of the design. In plan and elevations, the building provides vital clues about its performance from the delta-shaped multi-dimensional glass ‘facades’, operable clerestory roof to the variation in clear and translucent glazing on the western staff entry.
Landscaped courtyards fragment the zone between the employees and visitors on the main High Street public access elevation. Visitors can enter or leave without negotiating the facades. It is a building without fences other than for police vehicle parking to the rear.
This intersection of glazed delta shape glass blades as double facades addresses its two primary street elevations with the inclined glass. This cavity between the dual glazed ‘facades’ is planted with climbers supported on vertical wires to create a terrarium effect. Relief air for the supply of the double façade is supplied from the main atrium through the office spaces, or from low-level vents. This system supports the modern police force that requires 24-hour operational security and street surveillance, while presenting an accessible and transparent public image.
The extensive use of glazing had other benefits including its active ESD response. The glass eyelids are an environmental device that is designed to reduce energy consumption by seasonal shading of the western and northern inner facades. This creates a controllable, thermal buffer where windows can be opened to access cleaner, cooler or warmer air without the potential traffic noise and security issues. A central void and clerestory draws light and assists with ventilation.
Major operational areas revolve around the central streetscape act to realise a dynamic internal courtyard that flushes daylight down into and through a series of offices and holding areas that radiate along its perimeter. Primary surfaces are pre-cast concrete walls ‘decorated’ with an appropriately golden acoustic panelled motif that has a playful ambiguity - a slash of sunlight or rich vein of gold.
Projects such as the Bendigo Police Station demonstrate how buildings are effectively shedding mass to become thinner, lighter and ultimately ‘Greener’. Thermal mass is used where it is needed at its base. Bulk is on the way out in favour of lighter, light-filled buildings with a luminous amenity. When windows are open, the air conditioning system shuts down and other building components respond accordingly. Automated windows, lighting controls, blinds, ceiling fans, façade venting and other mechanical systems are all controlled by the building management systems. Rainwater is collected for landscape irrigation and car washing. In a city facing the worst drought on record it is a minor, but essential, part of a wider design strategy.