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Perth General Post Office (1923)

A photograph of the Perth GPO walkway An interior view of the hall at the Perth GPO An interior view of the Perth GPO Hall An interior view of the Perth GPO entrance hall An exterior side view of the Perth GPO An interior view of the Perth GPO atrium bridges An interior view of the Perth GPO atrium upper part An exterior front view of the Perth GPO An interior view of the Perth GPO atrium Perth General Post Office (GPO), Christmas Projections 2014
Perth’s General Post Office has held a special place in the hearts of Western Australians since its opening in 1923.

At the time of its construction it was the tallest and most grandiose building in Perth, helping to establish the identity of our capital city, and designed to reflect a new sense of importance and civic pride in Perth.

Its monumental scale and symmetrical façade, decorated with classic motifs, Donnybrook freestone and Mahogany Creek granite, was only equalled by the magnificent interior with its extensive use of Western Australian jarrah in the two storey high postal hall.

Today, the Perth GPO is once again at the forefront of design, as an excellent example of how heritage buildings can be adapted for new uses.

The project team faced many challenges with a building of this size and age, and far exceeded its goal to preserve and enhance the building’s heritage characteristics while incorporating contemporary commercial and retail uses, all within a civic precinct.

The overriding design strategy throughout the entire redevelopment was to remove extraneous fabric and highlight the original features, and to make it as environmentally sustainable as possible.

The original level 2 skylight structure was removed and replaced with a new roof level lantern skylight allowing more natural light into the historic building while atrium bridges provide a link across to levels 2 and 6.

The ground floor was redesigned to connect through to one40william and the Perth underground railway station, reinforcing the building’s role as a civic hub. Within the seven floors of commercial office space, the design referenced the building’s heritage by exposing the original unique concrete ceiling structure and introducing services in panelled ceiling sections. Interpretative artwork is cleverly used to tell the story of the building’s history.

The biggest challenge was inserting the dropped ceiling panels which incorporated the chilled beam air-conditioning system – believed to be the first use of this technology in a commercial building in WA.

The GPO was the first heritage refurbishment to achieve a Green Star rating in WA and it also achieved a National Australian Built Environment 5 Star Rating.

The project won the 2010 Western Australian Heritage Award for outstanding conservation to a non-residential place.

The WA Heritage Award judges said the project team faced many challenges with a building of this size and age, and far exceeded its goal to preserve and enhance the building’s heritage characteristics while incorporating contemporary commercial and retail uses, all within a civic precinct.

The successful conservation and adaptation project has reinstated this magnificent building in Forrest Place to the landmark it was designed to be.

Take a look at a short video showing the Christmas lights projected onto the GPO.

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