Yalawanyi Gunyah, MidCoast Council Administration and Customer Service Center

MidCoast Council Communal Workspace

Yalawanyi Gunyah, MidCoast Council Administration and Customer Service Center

The new MidCoast Council administration centre is an eye-catching local government complex created through a complete restoration of a former retail and warehouse site.

It has been named ‘Yalawanyi Gunyah’, meaning sitting or meeting place in the Gathang language, to honour local Aboriginal culture. The development also represents the physical amalgamation of three local councils for the first time since their unification in 2016, bring 400 employees together at one location.

Creating a New Community Hub

The site comprises an area of approximately nine acres, consisting of a modern 23-foot-high clearance, warehouse facility covering over 106,000 square feet with polished concrete floors, full air conditioning and 281 car parking spaces. The redeveloped building includes open plan offices, council chambers, a customer service centre and cafe. The community also has a modern and comfortable place to interact efficiently with its local council, or simply to meet for a coffee.

Bringing the Building Back to Life

We helped our client bring this collection of old buildings back to life while conserving key parts of them, through providing the following services:

  • Mechanical
  • Electrical
  • Fire Protection
  • Hydraulic
  • HVAC
  • Acoustics Insulation
  • Lighting Design

Recycling and Upgrading Sustainably

By putting an old structure to new use, the complex embodies the critical notion of a sustainable built environment. We helped to drive the council’s vision for a sustainable, high quality and comfortable environment for workers and visitors through various engineering solutions. Our goal was to reuse as much of the existing infrastructure as possible, so we designed and engineered a new HVAC system to fit within the existing external plant deck, replacing the previous tempered cooling system. Internally, we designed and engineered a mezzanine level to accommodate the HVAC plant equipment, ensuring it could be easily serviced and maintained.

Adapting to an Unexpected Change in Use

The MidCoast region was hit severely by bushfires, so it was decided that the administration centre would become a designated ‘critical building’ where emergency workers and critical decision-makers could convene with access to standby power. The client requested that we add this resilience to the building and we promptly responded with an updated services design. Through adding extra generators, we extended the uninterrupted power supply from just the communications room to several workspaces and training rooms which ensured power, lights and air conditioning would continue to function if the main power supply was affected.

Working Together in Times of Crisis

We were part-way through the project when COVID-19 lockdowns came into effect in Australia; however this did not affect our progress. Our Sydney team were prepared and experienced in working remotely so continued to conduct project team meetings via video conference. The building services were designed within a 3D modelling environment allowing the client and project partners to clearly visualize the design without having to be on site. Once restrictions allowed, we meticulously organized time on site and purposeful face-to-face visits with our client.

An Award-Winning Sustainable Project

In the long term, the new complex represents sustainable growth for the region as it will deliver low operating costs for the council and greater efficiencies. This achievement has been formally recognized at the NSW Local Government Excellence Awards 2021 where the project was the winner in the ‘Special Project Initiative’ category.

MidCoast Council Communal Workspace
MidCoast Council

Taree, NSW

106,000 sf (9847 m²)


Government Excellence Award (2021)
Special Project Initiative Category
Local Government Professionals NSW