Built in 1997, Garema Court in Canberra’s central business district offers office and retail space conveniently close to shopping and transportation hubs. In 2010, a decision was made to refurbish the building to reach 4.5 stars in accordance with the NABERS energy program. One of the changes included the addition of sunshades to the outer windows. With its central location, changes to the building’s façade would have a large impact on the overall street appeal; hence, it was important to choose the right material for the shades.
ARUP, a multinational engineering consultancy made famous for having produced the structural design of the Sydney Opera House and the Centre Pompidou in Paris, debated different materials — among them stainless steel — but finally decided on a Diab composite sandwich solution. Composites Consulting Group (CCG) suggested a core of Divinycell P and FRP skins with a finish of high-gloss, UV-stable gelcoat. Apart from being excellent materials for the construction of sunshades, Divinycell P had already been fire-tested locally and the gelcoat met the required ten-year warranty for repaint.
While the laminate schedule was forwarded to local fabricators for a quotation, mock-up units were produced in order for the architects to decide the final surface finish. The 85 sunshades were color-matched to fit into the building’s overall appearance. Despite strict lead times, Diab Sales rose to the challenge and delivered the first load of materials before the selected fabricator had even finished the first molds. After production, the sunshades were delivered to the site as single, robust units, ready for immediate installation by Empire Glass & Aluminium. Two workers could easily put up one shade in approximately 30 minutes — a fast and cost-efficient solution compared to the alternative handling of shades made of 520-600 kg stainless steel.
CCG assisted ARUP throughout the process, translating the requirements into a composite solution that met all structural and warranty demands while keeping the architectural vision alive. CCG also assisted the selected local fabricator, Buchanan Advanced Composites, in the production of the composites.
The building today has a 100% tenancy rate, compared to the local average of 89%, which can, in part, be attributed to the improvements made to the building and its façade.