Eschewing the traditional office of broadloom carpet and suspended ceilings, the large volume of the redundant Australia Post Mail Exchange building in Hobart called for creative lateral thinking. We took our cue from the tenants’ earth-based mining consultancy activities. Existing concrete beams and soffits were sand-blasted and left raw to provide a textured structural ‘frame’, while remaining surfaces were painted white to maximise natural daylight penetration deep into the building. Other interior design selections also favoured the use of raw materials, including the reception counter – a hand-built gabion cage filled with locally-sourced bluestone rocks. Enclosed rooms were minimised, but, where required, were positioned away from the perimeter and with glazed fronts to allow daylight entry, outlook, and views across the open plan work areas and out of the building. The project’s success was reflected with the award of the 2009 IDA ‘Corporate Design’ national award.
The Coffey Business Centre was designed specifically to embed environmentally sustainable features and permanent energy efficiency improvements into the building. The thermal mass of the existing concrete structure was coupled with a unique mechanical system so that daytime heating/cooling requirements were minimised and nighttime ‘purging’ returned the interior to comfort conditions ready for re-occupation in the morning. High volumes of fresh air and low VOC finishes also provide high levels of indoor air quality. Task-specific energy efficient lighting was designed to minimise artificial lighting demand, which has the dual effect of providing a striking and stimulating internal visual environment, and natural light and outlook from open work areas is maximised. The thermal efficiency of the building envelope was also vastly improved with the addition of insulation, double glazing and low-e films for the control of heat gain and loss. Interior materials are recycled and recyclable; construction is modular and demountable; and there are minimal applied finishes.