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Case Study: Striking Balustrade Design for Eden View Apartments

The sinuous curves of the custom balustrade design were brought to life by the Unex Systems team with extra care taken to meet seismic requirements while ensuring a seamless look.

Designed by award-winning architecture practice Paul Brown & Associates, Eden View brings over 100 one and two-bedroom apartments to Mount Eden, Auckland. Located on a large 3,000m² site, Eden View has been designed to maximise light and space, with the atrium between the West and East blocks playing a critical role in letting natural light into apartments. While the atrium itself is fairly narrow, the architects thought big when it came to balustrade design, specifying a sinuous, curving balustrade in white to add visual interest while reflecting light within the courtyard.

"We didn’t want it to feel like a chasm," explains Associate Architect, Peter Allison, Paul Brown & Associates, “So the approach was to have as much reflective material as possible to bounce light down into the atrium. We ended up going for a clean white powdercoat face for the balustrading so you’d get light bouncing off the balustrade surface into the depth of that space.”

The design of the balustrade required a highly bespoke approach. “Initially, we didn’t realise the complexity of the atrium balustrade,” says Peter who specified Unex for balustrades, screens and handrails, having worked with them successfully on previous projects. “We specify Unex quite a lot,” he says. “They have a good reputation, we know their product and it is a quality product.”

A key challenge for the courtyard balustrade was creating the seamless aesthetic of the horizontal curved design. “We wanted the profile of the aluminium balustrade to be curved in the horizontal,” says Peter. “And we also wanted the balustrade panels to read as almost a single surface.”

To meet the tight radii required, Unex came up with an innovative proprietary method for manufacturing the aluminium panels to produce the effect of a continuous rail. Further enhancing the flowing aesthetic of the balustrades, they also developed a solution for minimal visible fixings. With a single mechanical screw fixing at each corner set flush into the panel and adhesive fixing of the perimeter, they were able to minimise the appearance of joins to provide a sleek sinuous look.

We’re extremely pleased with the result. The glass balustrades look fantastic but what really impressed us was the effort UNEX put into the atrium balustrade and the attitude they brought to the project. They went above and beyond in helping us resolve the balustrade issues. Honestly, we didn’t know if they could achieve it but we were absolutely blown away with the result.

Peter Allison – Paul Brown & Associates

Another key design challenge was ensuring the custom curved balustrade met seismic requirements. “The two wings of the building are seismically separated, but at the same time connected with stairs and balustrades running across the two, so we needed the balustrades to perform their function during seismic events — to stop people falling — while also allowing for movement of the two wings of the building,” explains Peter. “The challenge was how to resolve that in an aesthetically pleasing manner.”

Unex took initial designs from PB&A and developed them further in order to resolve this issue. The solution involved fabricating telescopic sections of balustrade to enable the buildings to move in relation to each other without opening up gaps in the balustrading, all while maintaining the attractive flowing aesthetic.

In addition to the 500LM of custom balustrade for the atrium, Unex supplied a range of other systems for the building. Unex Siena balustrades — a semi-framed glass balustrade that eliminates the need for a bottom railing — were specified for apartment balconies providing a sleek contemporary look, with intertenancy screens added to some balconies for added privacy. And in common areas, balustrades, screens and Leada stainless steel handrails have been used to ensure safety, privacy and style.

The end result is a sleek architecturally designed building with clever detailing that balances privacy, safety and style -with added wow factor from the stunning central balustrading.

As published in the December 2021 edition of EBOSS NOW, a monthly digital newsletter by our friends at eBoss, Auckland's leading construction product database and specifier marketing agency.

Lauren Du Preez Architecture