Sovereign House
Sovereign Insurance’s requirement was for state-of-the-art workplace environment in order to accommodate its 750 employees with expected maximum growth to 1,000 employees. When complete, the result would lead to consolidation of an organisation previously located in 5 different buildings throughout Auckland. The client’s objectives were to: - Foster the growth of a healthy workplace community that puts wellness of the individual at the centre of the sustainability equation - Create a community that fosters a sense of belonging - Provide a place for people that fosters transparent collaborative behaviour – supporting innovation, and an inquiring culture. A desire to challenge and lead has been a core Sovereign value since the company’s inception. Sovereign recognises that people are an organisation’s future and therefore a healthy workplace environment shows respect for its employees. Sovereign also acknowledges that the future will be different – resources are dwindling and responsible use of energy will be a fundamental social issue. To that end, the building has been designed from the inside out. In other words, the architecture of the building expresses the activities within it. This happens in two ways; firstly, the building has been designed to respect the human spirit – a workplace based on human design principles. And secondly, the building makes a substantial contribution to addressing issues of sustainability. The result is that Sovereign House is the first commercial building in New Zealand to use multi-service chilled beam technology rather than conventional air conditioning, creating a massive reduction in energy consumption and a substantially healthier environment for the building occupants. From a workplace perspective this building has utilised experience gained from the planning of the world’s most advanced workplaces. The design analogy for Sovereign House is a village - a place that supports a community giving a sense of “place` or ownership to its residents. At its heart is an internal park like atrium – the “village square` where the community can gather for meetings, lunch and social events. Surrounding and framing the central atrium are three large floor plates. These floors are linked both vertically and horizontally to an atrium by a series of bridges and stairs, designed to encourage movement perambulatory as part of normal activity, and to enable ad-hoc interaction – or ‘bump’. The three floor plat planning strategy necessitated light to be brought into the centre of the building. Two linear skylights were introduced at the intersections of the plates providing dramatic height within the building and enabling direct sunlight to penetrate deep onto the building floor. During the day, as the sun arcs across the sky, the building is alive with light moving across the exterior sun screens - transforming the internal atrium to a sunlit internal park. The floor planning strategy to locate team leaders in semi-enclosed glass pavilions cantilevering into the atria alludes to public and private symbology of leadership, as well as providing important opportunities to introduce scale, tactility, intimacy and transparency to the ambiguous edges of the atria. This solution clearly states the proposition that leadership is a people focused realm, integrated within teams and articulated in three dimensional space, as distinct from hierarchical leadership from the top. The external expression of the building is driven by the sustainable performance of the interior. Chilled beams is a technology that demands more rigorous design than the usual ‘developer box’ which is often expressed as ‘whatever it takes to keep the weather out’. Correct sun-control is essential to avoid large temperature fluctuations, consequently the exterior of the building must be shrouded in sun screening. This has a major impact on the building’s appearance through out the day. When the sun shines on the screens the building is alive with light. As the sun moves off the façade, the people inside become the theatre of the façade – as though the inside of the building has been projected on the exterior. Despite the building’s large floor-plate, the light, delicate language of the façade has visually reduced the bulk of the building resulting in it appearing as a series of layers of form rather than a solid impenetrable mass. With a strong sense of purpose and place grounded in its quiet materiality and tertiary colours, Sovereign House exudes a quiet air of dignity, integrity and discretion.


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