The new MidCoast Council administration building is an adapted big box retail site formerly occupied by collapsed hardware chain Masters

The building accommodating the MidCoast council, a local government authority in the mid-north coast of New South Wales, represents the first time council staff have been able to work side by side since the newly consolidated administration was formed in 2016.

The council’s new administration building – named Yalawanyi Gunyah, meaning sitting/meeting place, to honour the local Aboriginal culture – is a complete restoration of a former retail/warehouse site that was once occupied by the home and building supply outlet Masters.

HDR provided all the building services, including mechanical, electrical, fire protection and hydraulic.

Located on the outskirts of Taree, the building was acquired by the council in 2017, at which point HDR engineers were engaged, consulting with the council throughout the planning, design and construction stages, leading to, ultimately, an eye-catching centralised local government complex.

HDR’s goal was to retain as many of the existing services as possible within a redevelopment that had to comply with a new set of standards under its change in use to a commercial office building.

“Our core challenge was how do we take this expansive industrial structure and modify its services so it could be used comfortably as an office and meeting place for council staff and the public,” says Shayne Blazley, HDR project director. “We are increasingly seeing old buildings adapted for new uses which we wholeheartedly support for a sustainable built environment.”

HDR aimed to retain as many of the existing building services as possible for a sustainable and cost-efficient approach to the project.

The building required new acoustics, insulation, lighting, as well as a new heating and cooling system, which were designed and fitted along with other internal structural works delivered by local contractors.

“Our new premises not only offers our community a modern and friendly way to interact with us, but also enables our staff to work much more collaboratively and efficiently,” says MidCoast Council general manager, Adrian Panuccio. “Teams no longer have the constraints of working across three different buildings – just one of a range of benefits to our staff, which have a flow on effect to our community.”

MidCoast Council bought the 3.7 hectare Masters site, at the corner of Manning River Drive and Biripi Way, Taree, in 2017. At the time the acquisition was a strategic commercial opportunity. The warehouse spanned 9,910 square metres, and included polished concrete floors, air conditioning, 281 car parking spaces and associated infrastructure.

The converted facility consolidates four administration centres, in Forster and Taree, and now accommodates 400 staff in an activity-based working model, and incorporates a council chambers,

meeting rooms, training rooms, collaboration spaces, quiet space, a lunchroom, change rooms and a public café.