Soul Apartments, Surfers Paradise

Soul tower, Surfers Paradise - Balustrades, sliding doors and fixed windowsSoul Apartments were constructed at an exclusive location by the water at the heart of Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast. The tower reaches 77 storeys, including 2 levels of commercial premises at the base, one level of leisure facilities for the resident population and the tower above devoted to lifestyle apartments.

The 243m high building was designed by DBI Design PL and built by Grocon, under the direction of the Juniper Group.  The tower is situated at the end of Cavill Avenue – the popular shopping strip at Surfers Paradise. G.James Glass & Aluminium won the contract to supply the design, fabrication and installation of the glazing – including windows, doors, louvres, curtain wall, sun blades and balustrades.

The Residential Tower Facade

The residential tower consists of 288 apartments with a variety of glazing types – a curtain wall face, balconies with sliding doors and windows. The sheer curtain wall façade was produced using the 650 Series glazing system, and fitted between the concrete support columns. Sky blue laminated glass contrasts well with the white columns in the marine setting.  The majority of the project’s extrusions were powder coated (finished) in Eternity Steel – a dark finish that blended into the shadow lines.

The balcony glazing utilizes the 445 Series sliding doors, 450 Series fixed windows and 415 Series louvres. The balustrading for the tower was done with 571 Series. At the top of the building, the shape of the balustrade glass was raked from level 60 and above to support the curved aspect. The raked balustrades required special layouts and bracketry specific to the level they are installed on to make the curve regular.

The tower colour scheme contrasts vivid blue sections with predominantly white areas.  The blue areas were created using sky blue glass, the same as the sheer wall. The white areas use a Cool Grey glass. The Balustrades match the colour coding of the area they fall in, and intensify the look with a reflective coating.

Sun blades are installed on the upper portion of the tower.  The south face at the sub penthouse level has large angular alpolic blades fitted to the Juliet balconies, creating a visual feature and angled to block harsh glare.

Commercial Levels

On the lower commercial levels, 3 floors high, G.James supplied the ceramic printed toughened glass (installed by others) and balustrading. The ceramic printed toughened glass for the awnings has a creeping fern pattern.  The 571 Series balustrades for the first 3 floors were internal and external, and include the the shopping plaza. 

QuickAlly Access

QuickAlly Access Solutions (a G.James business) supplied scaffolding to replace damaged balustrade, recently.  The affected glazing occured on level 6 and level 75.  Both balustrade glazing occur on balconies with limited space to provide a cantilever, so solutions were suggested and engineered to find the best approach. Ladder beams and other Systems Scaffold products were used for a suspended platform to provide safe access to the high risk heights.

The Effect

The glazing on this project makes a stunning impression from inside and out, and could not be accomplished without a high level of design and coordination. It was a great opportunity to contribute to an iconic building.

Guest Post: Comparing the energy efficiency of ‘Esky’ buildings to passively designed buildings

Breezway Louvres

This month’s guest post is by Clinton Dickens of Breezway, and discusses energy efficiency of passively designed buildings.

Years ago I attended a week long training course in the conference centre of a large hotel right on the beachfront. The food was pretty good but the conference room felt a bit like a dungeon! There were no windows at all and one of the presenters had this cruel theory that making the air conditioning extra cold would ensure that no-one fell asleep during the after-lunch sessions.A few years later I attended another conference at a different venue that was also only 100m from the ocean. In contrast, this venue had windows looking out to the ocean and we could enjoy the fresh ocean breezes.

These two different conference venues do a pretty good job of illustrating two of the main schools of thought regarding the best way to design energy efficient buildings. The first school of thought is sometimes called the ‘Esky’ approach where buildings are tightly sealed and well insulated to improve the efficiency of the air conditioning systems (just like ice boxes seal tightly and are well insulated to keep the ice frozen). Because windows are generally small, or of a type that does not open, these buildings generally require the air conditioning systems to run whenever the building is occupied. Situations where the ‘Esky’ approach is the most sensible building design includes city centres and industrial areas where the combination of noise and air pollution make natural ventilation impractical.

The other approach is known as ‘passive design’ and includes close attention being paid to things like shading, adjusting the building’s orientation and maximising natural ventilation so that the building is naturally comfortable. Passive design can still incorporate air conditioning systems for use during extreme weather but good design can minimise the frequency of air conditioning being required. Passive design is well suited to schools, homes, resorts, suburban offices and apartments.

Breezway Louvres

The openable windows required to maximise natural ventilation in passively designed buildings generally do not seal quite as tightly as the fixed windows generally used in ‘Esky’ style buildings. Therefore the air conditioning systems in passively designed buildings will generally run less efficiently than the air conditioning systems in ‘Esky’ style buildings. The big question then is whether a system that runs efficiently, but for many hours per day uses more or less total electricity than a system which runs less efficiently, but for few hours per day.

In an attempt to answer this question, Breezway commissioned a study to compare the annual electricity required for the cooling and heating of two identical buildings, one of which had fixed windows to maximise air conditioning efficiency, and the other had Altair Louvre Windows to allow some of the cooling requirements of the building to be met using natural ventilation at the expense of reduced efficiency when the air conditioning system was used.

The modelling showed that the benefits of the great ventilation through the open Altair Louvre Windows far outweighed the reductions in air conditioning efficiency and the building with Altair Louvre Windows used almost a quarter less electricity over the course of a year to cool and heat the building.

The Breezway Technical Bulletin “The Impact of Air Infiltration And Natural Ventilation On Annual Air Conditioning Load” contains more details on the modelling study.


All texts, pictures and tables by Breezway unless stated differently.

Clinton Dickens is a Product Manager for Breezway. This article was originally published at Breezway.

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Global Change Institute & the Living Building Challenge

The Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland researches issues like food security, healthy oceans, sustainable land use, health and clean energy. The new Global Change Institute building at the St. Lucia campus aims to embrace principles of sustainability and offer a place to research and pilot new sustainable building solutions.

Living Building Challenge

The Living Building Challenge is a green building certification program that defines the most advanced measure of sustainability possible today and acts to diminish the gap between current limits and ideal solutions.  Projects that achieve this level of performance can claim to be the ‘greenest’ anywhere, and will serve as role models for others that follow.

The Global Change Institute building will go beyond the 6 Star Green Star rating which means rather than having even a small negative impact on the environment it will overall have a restorative effect through technology and building practises.

Some of these features include

  • Thermal chimneys and solar air conditioning to passively cool the building and promote airflow.
  • Solar and wind power combined with DC power facilities for optimal efficiency.
  • Operable layered facades to control light and air together.

The result is a positive contribution to the climate and ecology, with zero carbon and waste footprints.


The interior of the building is progressing. Louvres are presently being installed.The building was designed in 2011 when the Global Change Institute commissioned a feasibility study, and construction began on the site in November of that year.

The façade uses motorised louvres and sun blades extensively to control air and heat throughout the building. The sun blades and louvres move independently of each other and follow the sun throughout the day, and operate in concert with the air conditioning in the building.

The louvres are custom designed to conceal any motorised mechanism, the frame incorporates a custom extrusion created for this purpose.  As the concrete slab is pre-cast with a domed shape, loading to the floor must be restricted, and the 2000 clear laminated louvre blades will need to be manually installed on-site to meet tolerances.

Further energy efficient features include a large central foyer which allows natural light through the building, a lift with regenerative braking in a glazed lift shaft, and skylights to bring natural light to the upper levels.

Construction is expected to finish in early 2013. Once completed, it will provide a focal point for the university’s sustainability research. G.James is pleased to help deliver such a cutting edge building.