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Delivering heritage services including an Archival Recording at the Coffs Harbour Forestry Building


AHS operates from our offices in Brisbane and Cairns, however the team is active nationwide delivering the full suite of heritage services for commercial and public sector clients right across the country.

One of our recent projects in New South Wales was a site which reflected the rapid rise of Coffs Harbour in the early nineteenth century. This growth was largely driven by agricultural production and timber getting.

The township’s first sawmill was built in 1904 and by the late 1930s a new forestry district was centred around Coffs Harbour, requiring the construction of a Lands Department building which opened in 1941 at 357 Harbour Drive.

By the early twentieth century the Coffs Harbour Forestry Building was no longer required and thus began operating under different uses. In recent years the site was purchased by Gowings Bros Ltd for a commercial and residential redevelopment which would include demolishing the original building.

Although the site is not officially heritage listed, our client, Gowings Bros Ltd, saw value in trying to conserve the building’s history. AHS was tasked with creating an Archival Recording prior to demolition and an Interpretation Strategy for the site’s redevelopment.

Inter-war functionalist and modernist style

The former Coffs Harbour Forestry Building was a three level, inter-war functionalist and modernist commercial building located near the Coffs Harbour Jetty at 357 Harbour Drive.

Externally, the building was asymmetrical with three distinct rectangular blocks contrasting both vertically and horizontally. The original timber cladding and timber balustrade along the front steps had been replaced, as was the cantilevered awning over the main entrance.

The interior was designed to be a celebration of the timber trade, with timber featuring extensively in the construction. Decorative timber elements were used throughout including stylised inlaid trees, an elaborate staircase, and detailed coverings to the air vents.

The building’s pre-development floorplan, elevations, architectural features, materials (including timber species), landscape and setting were all documented in the Archival Recording created by AHS which included more than 130 photographs.

The main hallway and staircase with design features including stylised inlaid trees


Reuse of timber design elements

The purpose of our Interpretation Strategy was to reflect the site’s past significance in the context of the future redevelopment.

A review of the Coffs Harbour Forestry Building’s significance conducted by AHS in 2017 found the important elements were its historical connection to the timber industry; the ‘modernist’ design principles showcasing native timbers; and the rarity of the building’s concept. These themes were among our recommendations for potential interpretation.

Creating artwork with original timber features is a key opportunity for the site’s future design. Framing and rehanging timber design elements, such as the stylised trees, could celebrate the craftsmanship and locally sourced materials while also delivering an environmentally sustainable outcome.

Decorative elements such as the timber vents or wall veneers could be reused directly from the old building within new public spaces. This might also be complemented by the inclusion of new, locally sourced timber elements highlighting the site’s history as a Forestry headquarters.

Interior details of timber door and wall panelling veneers


Celebrating the region’s forestry industry

Heritage conservation aims to safeguard and retain tangible and intangible elements of cultural significance, so that future generations may continue to learn and experience the history of their communities and landscapes.

The range of heritage services delivered by AHS at 357 Harbour Drive will enable our client Gowings Bros Ltd to celebrate the site’s historical significance to the region’s forestry industry while developing the site for contemporary needs.

Contact us

To discover how we may be able to assist on your next project, contact us today here or phone (07) 3221 0000. You can also connect with us on LinkedIn.

357 Harbour Drive, Coffs Harbour in 2019

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The Challenge

The former Coffs Harbour Forestry Building was a three level, inter-war functionalist and modernist commercial building located near the Coffs Harbour Jetty at 357 Harbour Drive.

Externally, the building was asymmetrical with three distinct rectangular blocks contrasting both vertically and horizontally. The original timber cladding and timber balustrade along the front steps had been replaced, as was the cantilevered awning over the main entrance.

The interior was designed to be a celebration of the timber trade, with timber featuring extensively in the construction. Decorative timber elements were used throughout including stylised inlaid trees, an elaborate staircase, and detailed coverings to the air vents.

The building’s pre-development floorplan, elevations, architectural features, materials (including timber species), landscape and setting were all documented in the Archival Recording created by AHS which included more than 130 photographs.



How we helped

The purpose of our Interpretation Strategy was to reflect the site’s past significance in the context of the future redevelopment.

A review of the Coffs Harbour Forestry Building’s significance conducted by AHS in 2017 found the important elements were its historical connection to the timber industry; the ‘modernist’ design principles showcasing native timbers; and the rarity of the building’s concept. These themes were among our recommendations for potential interpretation.

Creating artwork with original timber features is a key opportunity for the site’s future design. Framing and rehanging timber design elements, such as the stylised trees, could celebrate the craftsmanship and locally sourced materials while also delivering an environmentally sustainable outcome.

Decorative elements such as the timber vents or wall veneers could be reused directly from the old building within new public spaces. This might also be complemented by the inclusion of new, locally sourced timber elements highlighting the site’s history as a Forestry headquarters.

Results

Heritage conservation aims to safeguard and retain tangible and intangible elements of cultural significance, so that future generations may continue to learn and experience the history of their communities and landscapes.

The range of heritage services delivered by AHS at 357 Harbour Drive will enable our client Gowings Bros Ltd to celebrate the site’s historical significance to the region’s forestry industry while developing the site for contemporary needs.

Contact us

To discover how we may be able to assist on your next project, contact us today here or phone (07) 3221 0000. You can also connect with us on LinkedIn.

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Restoring Brisbane’s iconic Naldham House

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AHS protects Aboriginal Cultural Heritage across renewable energy sector

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AHS analyses iconic Queens Plaza façade

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History of Wynnum Seventh Day Adventist Church unlocked

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Extensive war history unearthed at Milman Hill Complex on Thursday Island

Case Study

AHS ensures cultural preservation of the Mt Coot-tha Kiosk and Lookout, unearthing a rich history at one of Brisbane’s premiere vantage points

Case Study

AHS helps to record and conserve Bega’s network of historic granite kerbs and gutters for our client Bega Valley Shire Council

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AHS delivered a Conservation Management Plan for the State heritage listed former Cairns Masonic Temple

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Conserving Willard’s Farm, one of the oldest surviving farms and residences within the Redlands on Brisbane’s Bayside

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AHS projects with Cairns Regional Council include a CMP for Mulgrave Shire Council Chambers

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AHS uncovers a lengthy historical legal challenge while researching the William Mitchner Shelter

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Contact Australian Heritage Specialists for a free consultation for your project from one of our award-winning consultants.