51 Langridge is a contemporary addition to Collingwood. Designed by SJB, this building is a true vertical workplace village that’s both highly sustainable for the environment and exceptionally healthy for workers.
51 Langridge is also a deeply responsive building that respects and understands its context in Collingwood, and is boldly sustainable, offering simple, innovative measures that are good for the environment as well as for its workers.
Located on the corner of Wellington and Langridge streets, this is a building deeply entrenched in its context, both outside and within. Each part of the building’s fabric tells a story through architectural, material and formal cues.
“A vernacular of typically red brick buildings with concrete, cement or bluestone detailing typify the area. And it’s this appreciation of Collingwood from which the design of the building takes a number of its cues,” says Tristan Wong, Director of Architecture, SJB.
The restrained warm grey palette of brick and concrete gives a clear nod to Collingwood’s industrial history. On the first three floors, a brick inlay podium of Krause Rustic Grey brick tiles acknowledges the prevalence of brick warehouses. The flexibility of brick inlay enables SJB to realise its podium design, including a double-height brick archway welcoming you into the space, and beautiful curved moments of traditional hit and miss brickwork offering another nod to Collingwood’s architecture.
“Brick inlay gave us the efficiency and speed in construction that we needed. And it was great that Robertson’s was able to provide such an incredible range of brick tiles to choose from. The Krause Rustic Grey brick tile works so well for 51 Langridge, adding a tonal variation to the adjacent buildings, and giving the appearance of full brick. They have such a beautiful aesthetic quality and a great character and texture to them, so it doesn’t feel like a basic flat brick. And they’re also locally made, which aligns with our building philosophy of a low impact approach,” comments Beau Fulwood, Associate at SJB.
Within the podium, deep concrete lintels accent the brick and provide another nod to the concrete and bluestone lintels of times gone by. Immediately above the podium, tessellated precast concrete panels reference the textile and boot maker industries with their woven, textured appearance, adding an almost fabric feel to the building’s skin, while their complex patterning delivers a contemporary take on traditional bricklaying and bonding.
Together this external palette offers a building of contrast and distinction:
“There is a clear distinction between the heritage buildings that bookend on to Wellington Street and to Langridge Street, creating a definition between old and new. So you get that clarity, allowing what is old and what is new to shine and have its moment and legibility,” explains Tristan.
The story of the external façade continues inside, where exposed concrete ceilings and polished floors talk to the industrial theme. “You feel like the whole building is an integrated approach where the inside is an extension of the external architecture; one informs the other,” says Beau.
Throughout, simple, yet bold sustainability abounds.
Seven-metre high gardens on every second level run up the entire building, providing a dramatic sculptural presence and great amenity for workers. And the building offers moments of delight with a bright, bold green staircase that zig zags down the side of the building “encouraging workers to walk more, promoting a healthier option outside by not hiding the stair in a concrete core as is the norm. This promotes accidental social interactions and further animates the building externally via the comings and goings of workers up and down the stairs. It’s a really striking part of the building,” adds Tristan. Cleverly, the appearance of the staircase is akin to laces on a boot – again referencing Collingwood’s textile and boot making industry.
In clear contrast to most commercial office spaces, operable glass louvers on all sides of the building allow full natural ventilation. And, using mixed mode mechanical, the air conditioning automatically adapts when the windows are opened.
Given that the adjacent city cycling paths literally run into the building, and car parking is limited, extensive end of trip facilities and bike parking encourage workers to adopt green transport by riding to work or catching public transport.
Appealingly for tenants, flexibility is key. Tristan explains:
“All of the structural elements are built into the façade, so the floor plates are entirely flexible – you can break them up however you want to, because enabling the building to adapt to different tenants’ needs was really important to us.”
Given the floor plates are fully flexible, and the site is compact, it’s naturally lit for most of the day, so no lights are needed.
An abundance of communal facilities promotes the village community feel and healthy living. On the ground floor, in the common lobby there’s a local coffee trader on one side and a bookable meeting room on the other. While on the rooftop, a large outdoor garden, BBQ and lounge area democratises the building, encouraging workers to eat their lunch outdoors and arrange social events and BBQs to enjoy the garden with its views back to the city.
“Our building design continually promotes a sense of a liveable workplace that reminds people not to be in an isolated building, but to have some overlap and those vital interactions that make us human,” reflects Tristan.
“Our team worked hard to deliver a responsive building with good flexibility, adaptable floor plates, and one that encouraged people to live and work more healthily. It feels like it will grow into its location and become part of the Collingwood fabric, getting better with time,” concludes Tristan.
Photographer: Derek Swalwell