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Botanicca 3 is a reflection of place

Gray Puksand’s Botanicca 3 project takes inspiration from the surrounding landscape with a palette and form that speak of place in a most hospitable fashion.

The idea of hospitality design is generally realised in the realm of the service industry; cafés, restaurants, bars and hotels are, of course, the mainstays of the sector. But think for a moment about hospitality design as hospitable design; the places and spaces that offer generous amenity, public access, flexible usage, connection to nature and respect for place. Almost every project these days offers a certain amount of generosity or a hospitable inclusion. 

It may be extrapolating the idea to claim that a large commercial building within a Business Park can be hospitable – but think again. 

Botanicca 3, located in Burnley and just seven kilometres from Melbourne’s CBD, is Gray Puksand’s latest commission and is every centimetre a hospitable project, built for people to inhabit with ease. 

The project, designed for client Growthpoint, consists of two towers situated on a landmass of 6,000 square metres within the Botanicca Business Park. Kelly Wellington, a senior associate at Gray Puksand and lead on the project, accepted the challenge to design a project that would maximise the yield of the site while providing the best user experience for those who would work within. 

To achieve these imperatives, the idea of a single landmass was discounted. Instead, the design team opted for two structures that enjoin at a central point while peeling away from each other visually. A passageway has been included between the two towers to allow light to penetrate through the middle, delivering natural light to the interior of the structures. 

The two towers bookend the site and there is gradual rise in the forms from east to west. The east tower stands five floors high, with the fifth level set back to create a terrace; the West tower steps up to six floors and gently raises the exterior profile of that building.

The colour palette of Botanicca 3 takes its cue from the surrounding park and landscape, in particular an Aboriginal Scar tree (a type of river red gum) to the south of the site. As a species native to the area, this was an appropriate starting point for a palette intended to bring an idea of place to the built form. The process began with a photograph of the tree that was digitally pixelated so that five block colours could be identified and selected. This selection was then matched to anodised aluminium colours for use on the exterior louvres that dominate the façade.

The merging of grey and brown, green and ochre has been artfully achieved through these custom-made and fixed sunshades, the angles of which can be changed to suit orientation. These shades are horizontal to the north, incrementally transitioning to vertical on the west. The changing and merging colours become something of a moving art installation, establishing Botanicca 3 as a dominant and visually exciting landmark in the area.

With a 120-metre north-facing frontage, there was an opportunity for activation to busy Swan Street, where trains, trams and cars converge and create a new urban edge to the site. Wellington decided on one central entrance to service both buildings as it would allow for more connectivity. However, it is the public amenity areas that become the social and geographical glue, joining the buildings and creating dialogue with the surrounding landscape. 

There is a café in the lobby near the west tower and an end-of-trip facility located at the entrance with a fitness studio above. On the podium level there is a generous public landscaped space with comfortable seating, a barbecue area and a half-size basketball court. These outside facilities (and indeed the offices within the towers) enjoy near 360-degree views that stretch across the parkland towards the city, with aspects of the Burnley Golf Course and Park and the trails that follow the flow of the Yarra River. In fact, the curves of the river trails have been amplified by Wellington through reflections on the exterior perforated panels of the central ground-level carpark.

Botanicca 3 inhabits the surrounding landscape with a certain majesty. The thoughtful design, reference to place and best-practice inclusions make this a project that is both hospitable and desirable. 

As a commercial development, Botanicca 3 provides a bounty of amenity all wrapped up in the colours of the landscape. Its design is a beacon of architectural light for both the client and the urban worker. At its philosophical core, this project becomes about providing thoughtful and considered design that fosters connection, both to others and to nature. In doing so, it proves just how much hospitable design can enrich our lives.

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