1200 Buildings Arts Commission
Melbourne City Council 2011
BOX was one of 11 shortlisted projects for the City of Melbourne’s 1200 Buildings Public Art Commission. The project was run by Carbon Arts and aimed to raise awareness of a number of existing office buildings that are currently being retrofitted to become more sustainable.
BOX is a 6 x 2.5 x 2.5m converted shipping container. BOX is a scaled down example of how buildings can be retrofitted to lower their global footprint and stand as an example for a more sustainable future. BOX acts as a self-contained, flexible and environmentally responsive space that can adapt to multiple sites and functions. BOX is a transportable vehicle for change. Retrofitting a building works on the principle of making focused and effective changes to a building’s fabric to improve its function and performance. These changes can be as much about how efficiently we take away layers of the building’s skin as it is about building on existing infrastructure.
Shipping containers are designed for durability and a life of transportation at sea. Once they reach the end of their useful life they are destined for dormancy or recycling. A growing trend has seen these indestructible boxes up-cycled for various uses such as hotels, café’s and temporary shops. BOX aims to build upon this trend as an exemplar for sustainable development. Walls, doors and ceiling are all constructed of a corrugated, coated, corten steel. These elements have been stripped away, cut and folded strategically to be re-imagined as seats, planter boxes and signage.
The add-on elements to BOX are primarily what help it to be self-contained and sustainable. Solar panels on the roof are provided to give BOX a long-term power solution. Water is harvested and treated through a series of raised planter boxes using indigenous plants and layers of sandy filtration media. First generation City of Melbourne info panels are installed on the side of BOX to allow pedestrians to interact with the real-time energy data that the building is producing and compare it with other buildings in the city. Recycled bicycle frames are re-constructed as a sculptural wall on one end of BOX to allow for multi-level bicycle parking.
BOX occupies one existing on-road car parking space outside the building. This is an intentional statement that we should be moving towards a less car dependent society and more towards sustainable methods of transport. BOX provides for multiple bicycle parking as well as a rest space for pedestrians who are travelling from nearby train or tram stops to their office. BOX is envisaged as a space that can be used for multiple and varied events. It works as an outdoor lunchroom for the building as much as it does as an information centre for passers by. It can be used as a café in the morning or a screen projection space at night. Leave your bicycle in the morning and pick it up in the evening; repaired, rejuvenated and ready to go again.
BOX uses the adjacent docks of industry past and transforms it into a knowledge based Melbourne context, much in the way that we need to re-imagine the existing stock of antiquated office buildings into leading examples of sustainable practice.