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The Custom House, Wellington

04 Sep 2010

The Customhouse is Wellington’s newest 5-star Greenstar building. Featuring dramatic precast facade panels, the building’s design makes the most of the unusual triangular shaped site to gain excellent natural light on all sides and to maximise sea views. On the west side of the building, heavy exposure to the setting sun has been treated with striking tall metal sunshades which unfold along the curved facade.

The use of concrete is an integral part of the building’s sustainability characteristics, achieving an A-grade flexible open-plan space in a very economic manner. In particular, the soffit of the double-T beams and precast frame has been left exposed to allow their thermal mass, working in sync with chilled beams, to provide a high level of internal temperature stability.

Normal and pre-stressed reinforcement was used to provide a consistent component size that allowed for efficient off-site manufacture and rapid construction.  The building has also been designed to resist seismic loads through a full height jump-formed core, with walls coupled using steel beams to achieve a fully ductile design. The core is supplemented by vertically pre-stressed ‘outrigger’ walls that help reduce torsional oscillation in earthquakes.

Deep angular wing-shaped precast panels provide texture to the exterior and add to the solar shading. Self-compacting concrete was used to create the complex shape and to allow deep recesses to be formed inside the panels which were filled with insulation. The facade was seen as a better solution for both solar shading and cost over traditional curtain wall glazing.

An attractive sculptural precast stair promotes walking between floors. The stair shaft combines concrete and timber to provide an attractive feature at the heart of the building for all to enjoy.


Adam Thornton of Dunning Thornton Consultants accepts the Excellence in Commercial Concrete Construction Award from CCANZ CEO Rob Gaimster