Powercor Network Service Melbourne CBD - Zone Sub-Station


The City of Melbourne was laid out in 1837 and included a myriad of small laneways designed with both a utilitarian function and to provide space for activities that couldn’t afford main street rents. Fast forward 150 years to the 1990’s and the City of Melbourne was underutilised outside of business hours with little to no residential occupancy and a minimal retail offer. City of Melbourne planning policy ‘Postcode 3000’ supported by the Victorian State Government, brought the CBD to life again by increasing residential development, improving streetscapes and enlivening laneways and arcades. Today Melbourne is known for its laneway culture, enabling residents and visitors alike to discover hidden delights waiting to be enjoyed.

Located in one such laneway, Waratah Place sits between Lonsdale and Little Bourke Streets and is home to the Powercor Network Services Melbourne CBD Zone Sub-Station. Serving the vital function of allowing power to be diverted around the Melbourne CBD grid, this infrastructure makes certain the duration of an outage will not exceed 30 minutes, ensuring continued operation of CBD businesses and residences during an outage event.

At an investment of $250 million the project brief included the need to invigorate Waratah Place which sits adjacent to Chinatown. CO-OP achieved this brief through their clever façade design
which makes use of an articulated brick façade cladding incorporating lights fitted into each outward facing solid brick. These LED lights are capable of delivering different colours and have been engineered to provide light displays further enhancing the static built form. The result is a stunning light show which makes the building an attraction in its own right.

CO-OP chose KLAY Einfach KBS SKV2042 Black Shimmer offering a metallic black look which, when installed with a high degree of articulation achieved by using different brick slip sizes and orientations, creates a dramatic shadowing effect. This is best seen on a sunny day and after dark when the light show takes effect. Some formats were custom-made for the project and included 240x71mm and 115x71mm brick slips. By contrast, the street level exhibits Einfach KBS SKV2042 Black Shimmer in its standard brick bond configuration.

Credit goes to Powercor for utilizing the innovative design services of CO-OP Studio to take a functional piece of infrastructure and turn it into an iconic part of Melbourne’s laneway culture.

Architect CO-OP Studio
Product Einfach KBS SKV2042 Black Shimmer
Project Type Infastructure
Product Type Brickslip Facades

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