A human centered sustainable office development to contribute towards the wellness of South Melbourne and the quality of the future workplace.


Location: 80 Cecil Street, South Melbourne, Australia

The subject site is located on the north west corner of Cecil and York Streets, South Melbourne. The surrounding area is known as South Melbourne Central which is a diverse amenity rich precinct within close proximity to the Melbourne CBD.


Cecil Street is a new high quality commercial office development of ~30,000 m2 (gross floor area) in Melbourne. The building is split over 10 levels including 2 basement carpark levels, 2 ground levels with retail and office spaces above. The development has adopted the design principles from global best practice standards including Green Star and NABERS and has consequently embedded a comprehensive range of sustainable design initiatives within the design.


A final design concept illustrates a series of tapering tubular slices that made to the terraced built form to provide natural light to the office levels and courtyard plants. These slices culminate in a substantial and green central courtyard, or ‘secret garden’ that re-defines the work-place experience.


The Secret Garden re-thinks the standard office building, which traditionally is a large boxy building with a central void. The Secret Garden turns that central void into an external courtyard with balcony spaces at upper levels that both literally and metaphorically breathes new life into the future work-place.

The building conceals solid panels by using structural columns, and introduces ventilation by using wide ventilation panels. The warm bronze reflective glazing has been chosen to represent the warmth of the South Melbourne urban landscape.

A key priority in the design has been the quality of air across the building, with 50% more than the minimum level of outside air to be provided through a highly efficient overhead VAV (variable air volume) system. Shading strategies have been developed to passively enhance energy efficiency using the structural form of the building in addition to increased levels of insulation and high performance double glazing.

The storm water strategy for the Cecil Street development adopts an integrated management approach. Runoff from roofs will be directed to a rainwater harvesting system. Rainwater collected in the storage tank will be reused within the building for toilet flushing, urinals and landscape irrigation. Runoff from roof terraces and ground level landscaped areas will be directed to water sensitive urban design treatment measures to achieve best practice pollutant reduction and Green Star targets.

80 Cecil Street has been specifically designed to respond to the site’s context as well as the needs of the end users. A parametric design approach is being implemented in order to refine the facade in response to climate and the quality of the indoor environment. In addition, monitoring strategies are in place for not only the operational environmental performance (energy and water), but also the impacts of the human aspects such as acoustics, visual comfort, air quality, and thermal comfort.

At the heart of the Secret Garden design concept is the landscape design of the garden itself. The secret garden is a verdant patch of nature, designed to appear as if it were always there, or perhaps a relic of the past wilderness.

It is open to the sky with the tapering cuts through the office levels specifically angled to ensure sufficient sun and shade to support large canopied trees, lush flowering bushes and low level ground covers, mounded within the centre of the courtyard cutout. Circulation is designed to navigate the occupants around the garden to contemplate the natural beauty among the man-made building encircling it. It is designed to be enjoyed at ground level, as well as looked out over and down from the office levels that overlook it.

© 2020 by Madina Z