The Charles Darwin Centre 19-23 The Mall, Darwin NT

role Architecture, Masterplanning

value $84 million

area 16,000m²

completion date Current

client Paspaley Pearls Properties

peckvonhartel was selected by Paspaley Pearls Properties to develop a masterplan and concept design for 19-23 The Mall; a premier site within the pedestrian only mall strip in the heart of the Darwin Central Business District.

The development was designed with a podium and tower of 20 storeys to provide the Northern Territory Government, the anchor tenant, with 9,000 square metres of A-grade commercial office space and achieve a 5 star NABERS rating. The scheme was successful in anchoring the Northern Territory Government as the major tenant.

At the commencement of the project, peckvonhartel undertook numerous masterplanning options that considered five contiguous sites. These sites were considered with respect to site access and linkages, planning requirements, potential building footprints, potential development use, surrounding developments, heritage impacts, as well as environmental design principles. The masterplanning options also considered development staging to maximise the potential of any site.

A major driving factor in determining which sites to develop was the integration of the West Lane Carpark, a multi-storey 6 level carpark, located behind sites 23-29 The Mall.

The masterplanning options identified sites 19-23 The Mall as the best sites to develop to comply with the briefed requirements of the Northern Territory Government and enhance the overall urban context.

In developing an approach to the concept design phase of the project, the overarching principle was an exploration of a form and language befitting of the premier site; a landmark building that is easily identifiable, environmentally responsive and provides an air of contemporaneity.

The existing site conditions incorporate a significant heritage colonnade to 19 The Mall, the former Commercial Bank. The design retains this existing colonnade and provides the design impetus at lower levels. The retained colonnade frames the site corner and denotes the entry to the commercial office building. There is a subtle play of geometry and form to the entry experience.  Internally, this glass box provides an impressive entry foyer to the commercial office tower and features a 12 metre high void space. The glass box features a perforated mesh cladding that varies in colour from greys to deep purple; a palette reminiscent of a Darwin Lunar Sunset.

Retail and commercial offices are provided at the lower podium level, over three levels, and in materiality comprise façades of stacked sandstone, glazing and composite material cladding. The setbacks of each of the retail and commercial spaces at podium level varies, providing building depth and allowing terraces with feature green spaces and landscaped zones.

The upper extent of the podium provides car parking and is set back to the Smith Street Mall. The façade comprises striations of composite panel and perforated sheet metal that vary in width, depth and configuration allowing texture, rhythm and a degree of visual distortion. A podium roof garden and commons area is incorporated with extensive open and covered landscaped areas.

The commercial office tower has a strong, but simple volumetric form. At higher levels, the floor plate of the building is slightly skewed to provide interest to the tower volume and to maximise spectacular views to the waterfront and beyond. The tower comprises glazing with horizontal and vertical shading devices. Different extents of the façade incorporate solid spandrel panels clad with a perforated mesh, similar to the cladding of the glass box, to ensure a language between these elements. The location of horizontal and vertical shading devices has been largely determined by environmental design principles. There is variation in shading devices to each façade, both in configuration and extent, to achieve both the required design performance and to ensure that the plane of each façade is independently legible.

The building, now known as the Charles Darwin Centre, was completed by international architects Pei Cobb Freed & Partners.