The structural treatment of the tower plays a subtle game with the orthogonal.
The horizontal lines created by the floor plates play an obvious role in the building’s elevation, marking the levels at which the columns alter their direction.
The decision to shift the direction of the columns at each floor is partly a product of the post-digital – a dexterous movement between the visual intuition of the architect and the possibilities presented by the engineer’s predictive software.
The eye is drawn to follow the wandering columns up and down the building face, an effect made even stronger at night by an LED light installation – a super-scaled artwork by Alexander Lotersztain – on the outer edge of the columns.
At night, they read as weightless, ephemeral, larger-than-life dotted lines.
The staggered growth of One One One Eagle Street’s structural columns not only plays with the stability found in orthogonal architecture, but also draws on the relationship between ornament and structure. In the world of parametric design we expect such built forms to be more densely patterned, like PTW Architects’ Beijing Water Cube.
Structure becomes ornament, and this is evident on the surface. Yet at One One One Eagle Street the architects have prevented such typified effects to reach the exterior.
The decision by Cox Rayner Architects to deliberately place the translucent glass skin of the building beyond the network of columns is instructive. With the glass on the outside of the columns, we have little option but to see the staggered pattern as structure.
But the fact that the columns do not have a clear geometric logic has allowed the architects to create an intriguing play on reality and imagination. In doing this they have succeeded in framing a complex rhetoric of structure, one that is more subdued than some of the imagistic obsessions of parametric design with biomimicry.
The architects’ use of an organic metaphor to guide their thinking about patterns of structure is an aspect of design process, a means to a built solution, rather than something that needs to be read in the building’s final form. The viewer can reach various interpretations.
From the vantage point of Brisbane’s Story Bridge the illuminated columns might seem less like the root system of a fig tree and more like veins appearing from under translucent skin or skeins of lightning in a summer storm.
This search for possible formal referents has its precedent in postmodernism’s multiple coding, but in other ways the tower references postmodern and late-modern architecture more directly. Its taut glass skin, contrasting with the expression of the Seidler towers, allows the building to be read strongly with adjacent buildings on Brisbane’s skyline, such as Peddle, Thorp and Walker’s (now PTW Architects) former AMP Place (completed 1977) and Comalco House (completed 1983), which themselves recall other examples of glass-clad international postmodernism of the period.
This is not to say the building looks to the past for its precedents. The difference between One One One Eagle Street and other contemporary corporate glass towers – for example Renzo Piano’s The Shard or SOM’s Burj Khalifa – is in its overall sculptural form. While the sculptural presence of the Brisbane tower is produced by the regular stacking of its irregular-shaped floor plate, the forms of The Shard and Burj Khalifa are dramatized predominately in section, by tapering towards the sky.
The One One One Eagle Street tower appears to find its own form, not only in the imposition of an idea or new technologies, but also in the open-ended exploration in response to constraining conditions of site and context.
The architects’ use of non-orthogonal structure is a means to conduct experimentation with architectural certainties, yet the building is also true to the high-rise type. In all it remains a hybrid object – the result of concepts caught in juxtaposition.
One One One Eagle Street a 194.7-metre (639 ft) office building in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, located in the city centre. With 6 star Green Star office design rating, the building is part of the CBD's 'Golden Triangle' district. Its location is the site of the old Indigo House building, which was demolished over a period of six months starting in 2008. 95% of all waste from the old buildi... More