Brookfield Place is a landmark destination in the Australian city of Perth, attracting thousands of people who go there to work, eat, drink and relax. The site covers an entire city block. Unused for 30 years, it was a scar on the central business district. Today, it is a vibrant, mixed-use precinct that houses the world’s largest resources company and some of Perth’s best restaurants and leisure activities.
The centrepiece of the project is a 46-level commercial office tower that has redefined the city’s skyline, though its careful integration with six refurbished heritage buildings and the surrounding open spaces has ensured that the street level experience is distinctly human. The tower meets the ground in a manner that respects the existing city form, creating a rich new layer of public urban space that acknowledge Perth’s heritage as well as responding to the needs of a dynamic, contemporary city.
Commenting on Brookfield Place’s contribution to the city, Perth City Lord Mayor, Lisa Scaffidi, said: “From any vantage point, Brookfield Place stands out very loudly and proudly and I love the fact that it has such bold architecture, and yet, at the ground plane you’ve got this beautiful intricate, interconnection into the existing heritage fabric along St Georges Terrace.”
The success of Brookfield Place is based on an inter-disciplinary design collaboration, which brought together architects, workplace designers, landscape architects, urban designers and heritage specialists. The HASSELL design team worked together with the client and project partners to create an integrated precinct that builds on the evolution of high-performance commercial architecture, and extends that generosity to the public realm.
The well-crafted public realm plays an integral role in the precinct’s successful activation. The precinct has been overlaid by a ‘street and lane’ pattern derived from the surrounding city form. The spatial planning combines clear open sightlines with intimate ‘discovered’ spaces. A key move in the heritage refurbishment and integration involved exposing the basement zones of the historic buildings, by scraping away the ground immediately to the south. This created a collection of open-air, lower-street settings that are protected from the elements and perfectly suited to alfresco dining. Pre-cast bridges and stairs span this lower level, forming connections through the precinct and down into the atmospheric new restaurants and bars, that hum with activity.
HASSELL Associate, Aysen Jenkins recently explained the practice’s landscape response, saying: “Good landscape design for a tower development like this, is really about scale and texture, and adding those dynamic qualities to a space … It creates a human scale. It makes people want to stay a little while, rather than just move through. They want to sit down and enjoy the spaces.
High quality and robust, yet elegantly lightweight materials characterise Brookfield Place’s open and adaptable spaces, allowing a range of different uses into the future without significant changes to the original built fabric.
At the podium level, discrete entry plazas are surrounded by mature trees, a combination of integrated and changeable landscape elements, and passive seating spaces; all enhanced at night by specialist lighting.
Abstract effects in the paving and tactile casts in the seating bring a narrative layer to the public realm, sharing stories of site’s former uses and the city’s history and making. The text and quotes featured in the seating come from the first edition of the West Australian newspaper that was once printed on site.
Brookfield Place has received several industry awards since completion for outstanding architecture, urban design and heritage adaptation. Most recently the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (WA) presented the design team with the 2014 Excellence Award for Design in Landscape Architecture, commenting: “At the footprint of one of Perth’s tallest buildings the user feels neither dwarfed nor insignificant. The tower meets the ground in a manner that creates a rich new layer of urban spaces which have been a major contributing factor in the success of the precinct’s commercial, retail, food and beverage tenancies.”
Brookfield Place has dramatically changed the way Perth uses its prime business district. It brings Western Australians’ love of outdoor leisure into the city centre for the enjoyment of all – from the start of each working day, well into the night.
Brookfield Place | Perth, Australia | HASSELL
Landscape Architecture, Urban Design: HASSELL
Architecture: HASSELL and Fitzpatrick + Partners
Interior Design: HASSELL
Heritage Architecture: Palassis Architects
Client: Brookfield Multiplex
Photography: Douglas Mark Black; Peter Bennetts