Immersed within an operational substation, this fitout proposed alternatives for the future.

The Substation is a multi-functional, innovative facility designed to bring together the aspirations of the various businesses of one of New Zealand’s largest infrastructure providers. Included amongst these businesses were fibre optics, renewable energy resources, gas, metering and traditional electricity supply. The facility is to provide the basis for exploring, integrating and displaying new technology in the hope of developing new sustainable business models and facilitating the expedition of those models to the market.

Together with the client, we developed the brief from the initial request for the “home of the future” to a more adaptable model, and facilitated the selection of the site - we strongly advising to use an existing AEPB Substation rather than leasing less suitable commercial premises. Our strategy for providing this multi-functional space was modular: An existing central dividing wall was demolished, and four bespoke timber pods are inserted into a raw industrial space. Drawing their formal language from ideas of circuitry, the pods delineate a series of spaces in which innovation, experimentation and display are integrated into a cohesive yet adaptable experience. Sustainably grown, locally sourced pine Plywood was chosen as the main material, for both its environmentally responsible qualities and its “warmth” within the space. Loosely, the pods were given the names of : Connect, Manage, Use, and Understand.

Precisely, the interior of the pods were defined as: Kitchen, Study, Lounge and Presentation area. Technology was inserted according to suitability for each space, ability for it to be presented to a user group and ability for it to be modified as new technology becomes available. E.g. a Whispergen unit was included: These units heat water with gas, and convert the unused energy into electricity. All kitchen appliances are the latest energy efficient offerings from Europe and Japan. The existing space is divided into a presentation/social area in front of the pods, suitable for workshops, seminars, training and social functions, while behind the pods the space is deliberately more industrial, allowing for easy adaptability to new technology, experimentation and metering of installed technologies. The roof space was occupied: Two wind Turbines generate electricity for the Pods, and a solar array was installed that consisted of Photovoltaics and hot water technology. All energy and heat was used or stored in the Substation, with provision being made for overflow to be fed back into the grid during summer months. Data regarding these system is collected and analysed. Feedback received from the client indicates the Substation has been a highly successful tool for the company. By using the Architecture to establish a framework for change, rather than adopting a didactic approach to sustainability and the integration of technology and infrastructure in the “home of the future,” the Substation has been able to adapt to a rapidly changing sector of the industry.

Please, turn your device