Property Australia

Reimagining big box retail

Karen Jamal Karen Jamal May 18, 2021

More than 400 employees from the MidCoast Council now work side-by-side for the first time, thanks to an imaginative adaptation of a hardware store and warehouse once occupied by collapsed chain Masters.


  Why we love this project:

  • The eye-catching local government complex – named Yalawanyi Gunyah, meaning sitting or meeting place, in honour of the local Indigenous language – is a complete restoration of a former retail and warehouse site
  • The strategic acquisition recognised the commercial opportunity of a warehouse that spanned 9,910 sqm, and boasted 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.


Council chambers, meeting and training rooms, a customer service centre, collaboration and quiet spaces, a lunchroom, change rooms and a public café are all part and parcel of MidCoast Council’s new headquarters.

MidCoast Council bought the 3.7-hectare Masters site on the outskirts Taree in 2017, following the amalgamation of three local councils in 2016.

HDR | Hurley Palmer Flatt provided all the building services, including mechanical, electrical, fire protection and hydraulic.

“We are increasingly seeing old buildings adapted for new uses which we wholeheartedly support for a sustainable built environment,” says Shayne Blazley, HDR project director.

HDR’s goal was to retain as many existing services as possible while complying with a new set of standards as a commercial office building. The building required new acoustics, insulation, lighting, as well as a new heating and cooling system.

Blazley says his team’s challenge was to modify an “expansive industrial structure” so it could be used comfortably as an office and meeting place.

190521 - Project of the Week - Midcoast Council 1

“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,” adds 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.”

Construction of the $18.6 million building was delivered on time and within the budget.

Multidisciplinary engineering consultancy HDR | Hurley Palmer Flatt represents more than 10,000 employees in over 200 locations around the world.