The run order was to first build a carpark building to free up the warehouse for redevelopment and then rework the latter as open-plan lecture spaces and conference spaces with a cafe at the rear. Then, the brand-new head office was constructed at the front of the property, looking to the street. The last part of the jigsaw was moving EMA staff from their existing offices into the new premises, allowing their existing office building to be sold to an independent company.
"A tricky part of this project was the reworking of the old warehouse," says Avery. "This was stripped back, with structural members and concrete panels retained, and a mezzanine created for open-plan lecture and seminar rooms. New skylights ensure light-filled, healthy learning environments, while additional carparking, admin, and a truck dock were introduced downstairs.
"We celebrated the good bones of the structure wherever possible for example, the steel portals were exposed and put to new use as the supports for the glass awnings that protect the outdoor eating environment to the side of the building. This public, semi-enclosed plaza provides an airy, relaxed break-out space for the lecture theatres."
While the repurposed warehouse encloses the plaza from one side, EMA's new four-level head office building forms the gateway into the site via a two-storey void on the left of the structure.
Naturally, with a bustling head office it's all about the people and, as EMA's manager of corporate & building services Sheree Alcock explains, the staff were ready for change.
"We had come from a more traditional office environment with all its negatives of cramped, enclosed office spaces, limited natural light and high energy air conditioning," says Alcock.
EMA's new head office environment couldn't be more different than their old workspaces shaped to an extent by the architecture of the new building. Project architect Kerry Avery says the new building makes a feature of the stairs, set as they are in prominence at the front corner of the building.