As the new Medibank headquarters rises from the ground in Melbourne, the plants that will give it a dynamic green facade are being trialed on an adjacent rooftop.  The southern façade of the Cbus Property development at 720 Bourke Street in Docklands will feature two 20 metre high-planted green walls rising from the Bourke St entrance. Higher up, the building will have a growing façade system consisting of 520 planter boxes as part of the façade curtain wall.

It is an ambitious greening project in a difficult environment. While green walls in an urban environment flourish in Asia and the tropics, the challenges of such projects are much greater in the temperate climate of Melbourne.  The challenges of the coastal location in the Docklands include a variety of conditions for plants to prosper on each aspect of the façade. There are varying levels of exposure to and to prevailing winds.    The HASSELL design team is working with consultants Fytogreen to select the right mix of plant species for 720 Bourke Street. Fytogreen supply technology and systems for greening the built environment.

The Fytogreen consultants have taken over part of the roof of the neigbouring Cbus Property building at 700 Bourke Street to carry out prototyping of the shortlisted six different plant species in planted test beds.   “This is probably the largest facade greening project this far south of the equator,” says HASSELL Senior Associate Travis Hemley. “The plantings are an integral part of the design concept that has been embraced by both Cbus Property as the developer and Medibank as the anchor tenant.”

“When it is finished in 2014, Medibank will move into a 6 Star Green Star building that embodies Medibank’s aspirations and values. It reflects Medibank’s transformation from a traditional health insurance business to a new focus on better managing health and well-being as a preventative measure.”  The first eleven levels of 720 Bourke Street are now structurally complete with services and façade panels beginning to be installed. The building will eventually have 23 levels.