Government buildings document a country's architectural heritage and they can still have a story to tell long after they have been retired from their original function.
In the 1930s, New Zealand government architects were influenced by the prevalent Art Deco architecture, which was seen in the design of post office buildings throughout the country. The Devonport Post Office, built in 1938, typified this architecture, says architect Lloyd Macomber of Salmond Reed Architects.
"The post office is a good example of the strictly classical Art Deco style. Although decoratively restrained, its solid concrete construction, rounded corners, steel-framed windows and strong horizontal banding are all typical features of the Art Deco period."
For many years after the postal services moved out, the building was home to Jackson's Museum a private car museum. In the early '90s, a concrete bunker-style extension was added to the rear. Two years ago the building, which is scheduled with both the NZ Historic Places Trust and North Shore City Council, was bought by Eddie and Sharon de Heer, who could see the property's potential.
"The building had been languishing, unoccupied, for some time and needed an injection of new life and vitality," says Eddie de Heer.
The couple commissioned Salmond Reed Architects, a company with extensive experience in architectural heritage projects, to refurbish the character building and provide retail and food outlets, as well as office and gallery space. Macomber says it was imperative to consult frequently with the NZ Historic Places Trust and the council heritage planner. Advice was also sought from a retail architecture specialist.