AL&A breathes new life into old Launceston building

Setting standards: AL&A business partners Anthony Loone, Sophie Poke, Angela Hartley and Simon Carins have given their staff and clients an amazing place for meetings, work and collaboration with the help of S. Group.
Setting standards: AL&A business partners Anthony Loone, Sophie Poke, Angela Hartley and Simon Carins have given their staff and clients an amazing place for meetings, work and collaboration with the help of S. Group.

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The birth of a new accounting firm in Launceston has led to the rebirth of a lovely old central business district building and opened up opportunities for people who want a fresh start and a fresh approach to managing their finances.

AL&A has transformed what was once a service station, a furniture store, police building and a stationery supplies business on the corner of George and York Sts into an amazing, modern office space.

Its vision was to create an authentic space for clients and staff that they love and it was imperative that the space was relevant to where the accounting and advisory industry is heading by  encouraging effectiveness, creativity and enjoyment.

Consequently the quality and timelessness of the interior design and the focus on what staff and clients want and need is evident throughout.

Although this building was bigger than what we actually wanted, its position and its character was undeniable - we just loved the space and wanted to make it work.

Angela Hartley

This was achieved, according to business partners  Anthony Loone, Angela Hartley,  Sophie Poke and Simon Carins, by engaging S. Group to design and manage the project.

S. Group is a unique multi-disciplinary studio that integrates architecture, strategic creative design and marketing.

Providing the manpower for what was a major overhaul of the 1940s deco premises was Tas City Building, a locally-owned company specialising in construction, renovations and alterations.

Amazingly almost the entire project was undertaken with the staff still working on site. “When our team joined forces to start a new business last year we were looking for a great work space,” Angela Hartley said.

“Although this building was bigger than what we actually wanted, its position and its character was undeniable - we just loved the space and wanted to make it work.

“We worked closely with architect Sam Haberle of S. Group on a plan - and I remember the day he first inspected the interior and poked his head up through the ceiling and said ‘we can take this ceiling out’ that we all started to get really excited.

“The building’s owners Malcolm Philip and James Brown were great supporters of the redevelopment and agreed that the building was in need of a ‘birth day’.  

They encouraged AL&A to be innovative and make it their own.”

With everyone on the same page about taking advantage of the solid and interesting bones of the building, retaining its art deco feel and sticking to natural and recycled materials such as wood, steel and concrete, S. Group started drawing up plans.

“It’s family friendly - one of our meeting rooms has an adjoining television room, visible through a glass panel, full of bean bags so that kids can be doing their homework, playing or watching movies while we are meeting with their parents.

“There’s coffee tables and couches for less formal discussions with clients and technology features throughout so we can show clients our work on a big screen or work seamlessly between spaces or away from the office.

“And the reception area is an inviting space, featuring the massive historic 1949 print we all loved of Lades servo with a lady peering through the showroom glass and a motorbike rider going what would now be the wrong way down George St with no helmet and a passenger in the sidecar - we’d love to know who that gentleman is!”

One of the signature design elements in the building is the use of tall, vertical Tasmanian oak timber screens that snake across the main void.

It mimics the art deco curved walls that have been retained, as have the stunning stained glass decor double doors on the first floor.

 Everyone agreed that they loved the imperfections of such an old building and that they should be embraced rather than covered up.

An example was polishing the old concrete floors - which proved a challenging job due to the various levels and aggregates that had been used. 

But it’s the steel sawtooth trusses of the cathedral ceiling that really draws attention. Glass panelling on the roof lets in light, vision of the seasons, the sound of rain and even a view of sky and treetops for all below.

And more practical considerations for the development were off-street client parking, board rooms, staff tea room and games room and there’s still spaces yet to be defined.

Anthony’s wife Di, an interior designer and owner of Ecoco, has made stunning selections of lighting, artwork, soft furnishings and accessories that give the interior space a casual, quirky feel that suits the building’s history and is far from clinical.

“Thanks to that close consultation with S. Group everything has gone smoothly and the result is beyond our expectations,” Anthony said.