A boutique hotel in Sydney’s CBD required the architect and builder to take a different approach when considering the integration of brick.
The use of brick was critical to the design outcome, however a tight site provided minimal area for material handling, and the design by architects WMK incorporated curved feature walls, arches and hanging brickwork. All of these challenges presented the builder with very few options for simple brick application.
The design brief for the Vibe Darling Harbour stressed that the first five levels, which fronted on to Sussex Street, had to reflect the surrounding streetscape, which pointed to a strong presence of brick. Within the building the architect integrated striking brickwork throughout the ground floor public spaces, and first floor podium.
PGH Bricks & Pavers heard of the project, understood the potential challenges the builder may encounter, and reached out to Icon to discuss the suitability of the CORIUM System.
According to Adam Lelliott, PGH Bricks & Pavers business manager – CORIUM/AVANTE, the Vibe hotel project had a range of challenging design elements including soffits, battered walls and tight curves. There were also large columns extending across multiple floors.
“A key value of the CORIUM system is its flexibility. It has a range of different profiles, and the system ensures design flow with seamless transitions around corners, on curves and angles that full brick is unable to achieve.
“The CORIUM system is designed so that each brick tile mechanically clips into position which is critical in soffits and at height. The speed at which CORIUM is installed and the potential to remove structural steel elements can deliver real value back to the project,” said Adam.
The use of CORIUM also enabled electrical and water services to be easily run behind the brickwork, without impacting on floorspace in the foyer, café and restaurant on the ground floor.
WMK’s design strategy responded to both the market demographic and the local physical context. The hotel’s new brick podium relates to the adjacent two-storey 1900’s brick structure, while the sculptured foyer reflects the parapet shape of the heritage public school building directly opposite.
The client was very focused on retaining the look and feel of the beautiful old brickwork in the area, so Icon, WMK and PGH Bricks & Pavers worked closely with the client to customise the perfect colour, and identify the most suitable texture, to meet the brief. This customised brick finish was chosen for the podium brick façade and internal lining of the double height foyer and restaurant space, which included the unique curved feature walls.
The CORIUM system offered the building contractor options for construction. “Rather than building the brickwork up, the CORIUM brickwork was installed from the top down as scaffold was being removed from the building,” said WMK Architects. “The CORIUM also enabled the creation of the vaulted arch carved out of the brick podium. The brick clip on system was cost-effective, quick to install and made it easy to form up the brick soffits.”
Icon project manager, Lucas Harry, noted that to bring to life the curved and hanging brickwork, the CORIUM system achieved all the tricky details with less weight to the structure. “The finished product looks like real brickwork, which was the outcome we were looking for.”
“The installation time was faster than programmed and using CORIUM helped us met the budget. The other main plus was the reduced waste and cleaning required for the material compared to conventional brickwork,” commented Lucas.
While PGH Bricks and WMK had collaborated on previous projects, the Vibe hotel was the first time Icon had engaged PGH Bricks & Pavers for the CORIUM system. “I would recommend working with PGH to other builders,” said Lucas.