Originally built in the 1930's for Tasman Empire Airways Ltd, then shared with defense during the second world war, seaplane flights continued until 1967. In recent times the hangar was reduced to a storage shed on a windswept wharf.
The project started with only the skeletal frame of the original hangar, an incredibly fine arcing truss structure behind the remains of the 9m high sliding door frames to the north. The curving roof and raking walls were re-clad in deep profiled corrugate, maintaining original details while using the unique building angles to create new canopy forms. The very enclosed building form was opened to the north with glazing aligning to the old sliding doors and a central, spectacularly large, glazed hangar door opening vertically that full 9m height.
The west elevation was activated through the insertion of two brick annexes that created a second ground floor entry and added openings and exterior deck space to the upper level.
A new mezzanine floor was constructed, wrapping the full height volume retained behind the new hangar door. This soaring 13.5m high space is the arrival point and energetic heart of the new ground floor occupation, opening to future public space and the water beyond.
A new co-share office fitout was created on the mezzanine level. The space is divided acoustically with large glass walls to allow both quiet workspace and a balcony open to the energy of the brewery below. A neutral material palette responding to the military aviation workshop was used featuring lightly greyed plywood, rustic grey timber boards and reused heavy timber roof purlins, next to furniture formed from raw steel salvaged from the old hangar door frames.
The design teams have sought to create a new life and purpose for an iconic military aviation hangar once threatened with demolition. Multiple clients and briefs for manufacturing, workspace and entertainment have been woven together under the embracing roof form of a building that is now taking its place in the heart of a new waterside precinct.
Photographer Sam Hartnett