Having been shortlisted in the 2023 Victorian Architecture Awards that will be announced tomorrow, Zero Gipps is a project we’re justifiably proud to have been involved with. UPco Senior Associate Sarah Thomas provides some insight into what makes this office development so interesting – especially in post-COVID times.

The project in a nutshell

Situated in Collingwood, Zero Gipps has transformed a historic red-brick warehouse into a beautifully sustainable, future-facing office. At the heart of the project was our client’s absolute commitment to achieving the highest quality result, with no compromise on material selection or architectural outcome. Another standout commitment was to make the building supremely sustainable, with zero operational emissions and zero gas – and this, coupled with its location on Gipps Street, inspired the building’s name.

Designed by SJB Architects, Zero Gipps retains and repurposes elements from the warehouse that once occupied the site, including the front façade. Above this rises the new built form, which is separated into ‘northern’ and ‘southern’ segments with a central courtyard. Small-scale 250sqm floor plates are connected via linking walkways and an open atrium stairway – creating a dynamic and intentionally ‘walkable’ workplace village.

As well as enhancing wellbeing by facilitating connections and ‘walkability’, Zero Gipps encourages green travel through the inclusion of stunning End of Trip facilities, 46 bike parking spaces, electric bike charging points, a bike repair station, and zero car parking spaces. An all-electric building, it’s powered by green energy, including 100 rooftop solar panels (delivering 35kW of energy), and features natural ventilation, food production and compost pods on balconies, and a small café.

The process (and its challenges)

While gaining approval for an office with no off-street parking is unusual, Yarra City Council is progressive in its support of sustainable transport modes – and thanks to this general support, we obtained planning permission.

“What’s notable about this was really the timing,” explains Sarah Thomas. “Our application was lodged in 2018, so this is well before COVID came along and changed our attitudes towards the office. Thankfully, even back then, Yarra City Council had begun to develop a policy to support carbon neutral development – and while it’s still not part of the Planning Scheme, it shows that we’re already placing greater value on high ESD performance.”

“Fast forward a few years and the building is completed and occupied – and it could not be better positioned for today’s market, where employee wellbeing has become critical to attracting and retaining talent. Zero Gipps achieved a remarkable 77% BESS score, keeping in mind that 50% is considered best practice, and 70% exceptional (and hard to achieve).”

Why we love the project

“Seeing such a high-quality project come to life is incredibly satisfying,” says Sarah. “I love how Zero Gipps represents such a forward-thinking approach, but still retains the original character that defines this neighbourhood. It’s a beautiful building, and an exemplar of how the modern office can look, feel and function.”

Cover image courtesy of Aaron Puls