Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Bendigo city renown for Victorian architecture has an unexpected modern gem

I was very excited and proud to get this news yesterday; two Bendigo design projects have reached the finals of the Premier’s Design Awards for 2010. The Bendigo Bank’s ‘Bendigo Center’ and the Bendigo Art Gallery’s ‘Golden Age of Couture’.

This is a great achievement for a small regional city in the center of Victoria.

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank’s new headquarters, The Bendigo Centre, was officially opened by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in 2008. The building houses offices, shops and cafes. About 1,000 Bendigo Bank staff work in the 5 Green Star building. It is one of the first to be built in a regional city.

Many Green Features

A number of environmental features and benefits have been included by the designers of the building. The green features include under-floor air conditioning, solar panels to reduce black power usage and exterior sunshades to reduce heat.

It is estimated the building will consume less than half the energy of a typical office building. Cut greenhouse gas emissions by 820 tonnes each year - the equivalent of removing 190 cars from Bendigo’s roads.

Water Conservation
Another important feature is the water conservation water-efficient fixtures and fittings and a recycling water plant treat all black and greywater to Grade A standard for toilet flushing to ensure minimal use. The surplus recycled water will be distributed throughout the Bendigo community and for garden use. Rainwater is collected from the roof area, filtered, stored and reused in the drip-fed irrigation system that supplies the landscaped gardens at the front of the building.

Under -Floor Displacement Air Conditioning
One of the first large-scale applications of under-floor displacement air conditioning in Australia has been include in the design. This system provides fresh, clean air at a low pressure with individual vent controls at every workstation. The result is 50% improvement in fresh air rates by Australian standards and ensures increased staff health, effectiveness and productivity.

Community Focus
Bendigo Bank started its life as a building society in the Victorian gold rush of 1800’s. From the start the philosophy of the company has been to help the community. Many gold widows were left in Bendigo during the gold mining period. Men died of a miner related lung disease. The society helped families in numerous ways during this time.

The bank is also famous for the community support given to isolated communities. When other banks left an area Bendigo bank moved in to help create a community bank (run by the community) under the umbrella of the Bendigo Bank

The Bendigo Bank building has had its fair share of controversy. The ultra modern design has been felt by some to spoil the historic aspect of the city’s historic buildings. I have always preferred modern architecture but I must admit I struggled as the modern building started to emerge above the historic streetscape.

I am so impressed with the environmentally sustainable features of the building but I am still coming to terms with the clash of architectural styles. My problem is I love the building design. But it does impact on the period architecture of the city. Only time will tell; will the building eventually become accepted for what it is a building of the time.

 Frank Lloyd Wright said

“Every great architect is - necessarily - 

a great poet. 

He must be a great 

original interpreter of his time, 

his day, his age”

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