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Reflecting Urban Renewal with Stainless Steel Cladding

Reflecting Urban Renewal with Stainless Steel Cladding

Shining the way in major urban renewal precinct development is the Fujitsu Building, a speculative office building utilising stainless steel cladding to form a striking ‘gateway’ into Brisbane city.

Situated on Breakfast Creek Road, the five-storey Fujitsu Building is the first of three buildings in the ‘Portal Business Community’ to be developed by Ariadne Australia under a master plan by architects and planners, Cox Rayner.

‘Portal’ reflects an urban renewal of the former industrial site that has been used for petroleum storage and as a gasworks since the 1880’s including the preservation of Queensland’s oldest metal frame gasometer.

With this industrial setting in mind, the Fujitsu Building comprises economical materials and solar treatments to create intriguing textures in unconventional ways.

Whereas many speculative office buildings typically appear anonymous and soulless, the Fujitsu Building is an endeavour to demonstrate how speculative office buildings can be designed within meagre budgets to impart character reflective of place. This character was achieved by adopting an efficient floor plan and combining inexpensive materials such as stainless steel cladding.

The master plan concept turns the building through 90 degrees to north/south. This initiative optimises passive energy efficiency through screened and recessed glazing, ground level set-in, thermally insulated lightweight panel cladding and the concept of the roof as shade parasol.

Stramit Building Products selected uncoated stainless steel from their premium products range to create contrasted profilles and textures. ASSDA major sponsor, Austral Wright Metals provided technical assistance by recommending and supplying grade 445M2 stainless steel from ASSDA sponsor Nisshin Steel Company in Japan.

Grade 445M2 is a ferritic stainless steel that offers superior corrosion resistance compared to grade 316. A lower reflectivity matt finish was chosen for the site, next to one of the main roads into the Brisbane central business district. The matt finish doesn’t compromise the corrosion resistance of the grade, which is important as the Brisbane River is very close.

445M2 is suitable for roofing and cladding in marine environments and other areas where the environment is too severe for grade 304. Because it is ferritic, grade 445M2 has mechanical and physical properties more like carbon steel than the austenitic grades and is much easier to roll form into flat panels like those on the Fujitsu Building.

Thermal expansion is similar to carbon steel, so the grade can be designed with long roofing and cladding spans using well known practices.

The Fujitsu Building has received industry awards including the 2002 Queensland Metal Building Product Design award and the 2003 QMBA award for commercial projects over $10 million.

The final two buildings of the Portal Business Community will comprise a 42 apartment development with views of the Brisbane River and a four level office building modelled on the Fujitsu Building.

This article featured in Australian Stainless magazine - Issue 29, September 2004.

Lissel Pilcher