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    Kalgoorlie Courthouse by Hassell Architects

    Nathan Johnson

    An integrated design by Hassell architects has linked new buildings and public facilities with heritage protected structures at the Kalgoorlie Heritage Precinct in WA.

    Hassell were engaged in 2007 to design a new Courthouse Complex that comprised three magistrate’s courts, two jury courts and a range of mediation, registry and support facilities—the complex was completed in November 2013. 

    The brief requested that the buildings incorporate new state-of-the-art facilities and a high degree of electronic technology. Reference to traditional Aboriginal ties with the site was also a provision and Hassell responded with a design they say “reflects the current community values and respects the place’s heritage values.”

    “As well as meeting the court’s functional needs, the project has ensured conservation of an iconic Kalgoorlie landmark for locals and visitors alike and includes a significant interpretation programme designed to enrich the user experience,” said a statement from the architects.

    The project is located adjacent to the heritage-protected limestone Wardens Court and Post Office building in the Kalgoorlie heritage precinct and was undertaken in accordance with the conservation plan and Australia ICOMOS Burra Charter.

    The design incorporates the modern courthouse facility into one Kalgoolie’s most significant 19th century heritage buildings. Hassell explains that meeting the structural and heritage requirements of the 100-year-old building was a complex challenge due to technical and security requirements.

    “Specialist input from all disciplines has ensured minimal intrusion to the historic fabric and has resulted in innovation involving, in part, use of space age carbon fibre to conserve the historic tower.”

    All of the new additions were built to the rear of the original building and Hassell said they ensured the principal Hannan Street façade was not damaged or changed in anyway. 

    “New additions are to the rear of the original building ensuring no impact on the principal Hannan Street façade,” they said.

    “The new components are clear, bold, examples of contemporary civic architecture and create functional and inviting spaces between the old and new structures.”

    Hassell said the defining feature of the design is the provision of extensive external landscaped public waiting areas which run throughout the precinct and link both the outside and inside secure zones.

    This feature also links the new and old buildings which are aesthetically contrasting, as the architects explain: 

    “While the existing Post Office and Wardens Court have been retrofitted and restored to reflect their original design, the new building by contrast is a modern counterpoint to the heritage building, utilising contemporary forms and materials.”

    The Kalgoorlie Courthouse project was recently awarded a commendation at the 2014 Australian Institute of Architects WA Architecture Awards.

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