This challenging project required the construction of an eleven-storey building, comprising three central elements: the main tower houses the courtrooms in the lower levels, with judges’ chambers located on the upper floors; a smaller tower accommodates court staff; and the distinctive Opal Building is home to seven court rooms, including the High Court and a dedicated indigenous court.
Aurecon was commissioned to provide total engineering services for the development, which needed to reflect the judges’ desire for a building filled with natural light as a symbol of justice.
To maximise natural lighting, the courtrooms were situated around the building’s perimeter, with secure access for judges provided by dedicated lifts from their chambers.
The completed structure incorporates 22 court rooms, chambers and associated spaces for four federal jurisdictions. Design features include extensive court media and IT provisions; fabricated steel plate structural framing to support atrium glazing, and a 30-metre precast concrete column supporting the six-storey office tower.
Aurecon’s design prioritised the use of energy-efficient systems, which were costed over an anticipated 50-year life span.
Features include a heat reclamation system; air-cooled chillers with evaporative pre-cooling; a state of the art building management system; lighting controls; rainwater recovery and reuse; solar hot water; photovoltaic cells for energy generation and carefully selected materials to minimise embodied energy.
With crafted sandstone and timber veneer finishes and extensive natural lighting, the project has succeeded in creating an ambience ideally suited to the highest court in Australia.