There is always something special about working in our local community. In 2019, we were at the heart of it, as we won the contract to work on the design and constructions of fittings for the Whanganui District Council’s (WDC) new Customer Service, Environmental Services back-of-house and mezzanine public areas, alongside Dalgleish Architects Ltd (DAL).
It was a privilege to work in the WDC building, a fine example of mid-century modernism. Designed to reflect Whanganui’s War Memorial Centre, the exterior of the building has a Heritage Listing in the Whanganui District Plan.
DAL were asked by WDC to redesign the public spaces within the building to reflect a cultural shift from a traditional transactional model to an interactive one. The council wanted to create a space that would encourage and nurture collaboration, a place where all members of the community would feel welcome. The resulting design is inclusive and diverse, it draws strength from connection with its people, community, district and river. Thus, reflecting the Council’s role as kaitiaki of the environment and its people.
One of the key moves in the change to a collaborative model is the inclusion of kiosks where WDC staff can assist customers with cash transactions, through to planning enquiries. Other fittings facilitate group activities and collaboration, supported by leading-edge technology. GDM worked very closely with DAL and the cash management kiosk provider to design a bespoke unit tailored to the space.
“We see the GDM point of difference as our ability to transform a customer’s ideas into practical solutions, through a leading-edge operation,” says GDM managing director Michael Eden,
“This is where state-of-the art metal fabrication, laser cutting, CNC joinery construction, powder-coating, wet spray and logistics are all coordinated from the one site.”
The benefits of these many collaborations are seen in the final fit-out. There is a consistency across design decisions, right down to the detailing. The spaces have been very well received aesthetically. As the project is innovative and includes such a significant cultural shift for both staff and customers, success will be defined over time. The early indications are good.