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Best of Both Worlds

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Having respect for the past is a key ingredient in the successful conversion of a historical building into a thoroughly modern office space

Best of Both Worlds


Transforming heritage buildings into modern offices takes a sensitivity to the past combined with an ability to meet the demands of the future.

Architectural designer Gary Todd faced such a challenge when turning the former Wilson's Distillery site into the headquarters for business software solution provider Enabling.

"I really like that we've enhanced the historical character and juxtaposed a modern office image within a heritage building," Todd says.

Todd's brief was to retain the heritage exterior and produce an open-plan office with flexible workspace. He created a spacious, airy office by adding windows, skylights and lighting, and through the use of colour. Space is broken up by sliding, stackable glass doors.

Floating ceilings over meeting rooms allow privacy without losing the open, interconnected feeling. The transparent walls also allow staff to maintain the feeling of connection even when the doors are closed.


Rob Cunningham, managing director of Stevenson and Williams Builders, says his company worked with Todd to achieve Enabling's vision of refurbishing one of Dunedin's heritage buildings.

"The project provided many challenges of converting an old industrial building into a modern, user-friendly workplace. The building was structurally sound but the exposed tongue-and-groove timber floor had settled and we had to develop a system to ensure the partition frames were level, practical at door openings and aesthetically pleasing," Cunningham says.

Todd employed negative detailing, creating shadow lines where the old and new elements don't meet. This solved the problem of blending elements when some of the old hardwood posts and walls were out of plumb. The undulating kauri floor was out of level in places, so to ensure the sliding glass doors moved smoothly and didn't create a tripping hazard, the track for the doors was cut flush into the floors.

"Our team at Enabling are a critical part of our business success. Our new workspace creates a dynamic yet relaxed environment and contributes positively to innovation and a great team culture," says Enabling CEO Gary Taiaroa.

For more details contact Gary Todd Architecture, 18 Estuary Crescent, Fairfield, Dunedin, phone: (03) 488 4594. .

Architectural designer:Gary Todd, Gary Todd Architecture (Dunedin)

Phone: (03) 488 4594

Builder:Stevenson & Williams Ltd

phone: (03) 455 4034

Paint finishing/suppliers:James Wren & Co

phone: (03) 477 9384

Flooring:Quality Carpets

phone: (03) 455 1844

Joinery:Ellison's Aluminium supplied by Aluminium Systems

phone: (03) 474 0011

Paint:Resene Paints

phone: 0800 Resene (737 363)

First published date: 31 March 2009

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