STAR MOUNTAIN PLAZA
September 2018 (Stage One)
Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
Commercial. Hospitality. Hotel & Resort. Interiors
Papua New Guinea’s first integrated, mixed-use development, Star Mountain Plaza is a landmark project with a broader market offering than anything else currently available in Port Moresby. The first stage, which prioritised business and tourism facilities, completed in September this year in time for APEC 2018. A second stage focusing on residential units and the local market is now underway.
Initially commissioned to help the client develop and refine the design brief, Ignite was eventually appointed to lead the design through a world-class team of consultants. International architectural practice Grimshaw assumed a key role, leading design and delivery of the distinctive convention centre.
Thorough analysis was undertaken to test the viability of Star Mountain Plaza beyond its initial function as a venue for APEC 2018. Sustainability was considered through every phase of the project, with the addition of residential units, commercial and retail spaces, and a performing arts centre, keeping it relevant to locals as well as visitors. The project’s social and environmental credibility was further enhanced by extensive landscaping, featuring 12,000 examples of local flora, 566 sqm of artificial turf and several water features, making it one of Papua New Guinea’s largest ever landscaping projects.
Once the functional elements were resolved, the project team concentrated on meeting the brief with respect to placemaking and the integration of cultural motifs and traditional patterns into the building form and materials. However this proved more challenging and complex than the simplicity of the final outcome suggests. Papua New Guinea’s diverse tribal culture requires a sensitive interpretation of culture and artefacts to achieve an authentic yet generic outcome. No one tribe should be represented over another. Two key elements underline the project’s visual identity: the 100m long timber roof of the convention centre, which references the architectural tradition of the Pacific long-house; and the “shields” on the hotel facades, designed with the practical aim of reducing solar gain and to reference the war and ceremonial shields that speak to the physicality and strength of the Papua New Guinea psyche.
The project team grappled for some time with the need to minimise the building’s energy consumption and running costs without undermining functionality and comfort. One solution came through a simple observation that social interactions in Port Moresby often take place in the open air. There was no reason therefore why the conference centre should be fully closed in, as long as air flow was maintained. Consequently, upper storeys, where conference delegates sign in, break out and socialise, have no side walls, with the canopy roof providing protection from sun and rain, and the open sides facilitating natural ventilation. The all-important meeting rooms, sub-dividable banquet hall and operational areas, where air conditioning is essential, are located below.
Hilton started working with the project team in late 2014, making sure that the design met its brand standards and project-specific requirements. Its presence in Port Moresby signals renewed corporate confidence in PNG as a destination for business and leisure tourism.
Through a collaborative approach, the project team has created a significant development, which is exceptional in terms of its scale and environmental relevance. Over time, and if managed well, it can be a source of economic growth both as a tourism venue and a place of entertainment and employment.
The Star Mountain Plaza project team includes Stratum (project and construction management), Ignite (architecture, master planning and interiors), Grimshaw (architecture and interiors - convention centre), BGT Structures (structural and hydraulic engineering), Battley (programming), Rider Levett Bucknall (quantity surveying), Norman Disney Young (mechanical, electrical, fire engineering, VT and acoustics), Aurecon (facades) Tonkin & Taylor (Geotech), BN Walker Surveying (survey), FURNZ (interiors), Noble Fox (landscaping), Opaque (wayfinding), TDG (traffic engineering), DM Studio and Build Media (3D visualisation).