“...Toyota wanted the best car showroom in the world. We won the competition, we met their objectives and they were gob smacked but perhaps on this occasion, we were too far beyond their expectations...”
The Toyota Motor Corporation invited a shortlist of architects to take part in a design competition to convert an old glass factory into their new non-franchised showroom and national headquarters on an 8,500 square metre site with high exposure to traffic. The brief called for the new showroom to be “the best in the world”. While the interior space was to be remodelled to accommodate the required new functions, a major concern for Toyota was the conversion of the existing facade into a transparent skin to capitalise on retail exposure and opportunity. Lippmann Partnership won the competition which included provision for an expanded car sales showrooms for both Toyota and Lexus vehicles, car servicing, a crèche and recreational facilities for children including 3D driving simulation, theatrettes, travel agencies, cafes, restaurant and even a roof top night club accessible to residents next door. The idea was to make the event of buying a car, an exciting destinational family event. The existing concrete frame of the glass factory was to be retained with the new functions inserted inside of this. The existing facade was to be replaced by a curved metal and glass foil wrapped over the existing structure creating transparency through the building at all levels. The lower band acts as a framework for a constantly moving strip of illuminated images and corporate identity. The double skin membrane was developed in conjunction with specialised facade and service engineers and has the ability to exhaust hot air from the upper levels via a stack air system. The displacement system blows cool air through floor grilles to counteract heat gain from the west facade with west facing heat gain.