Taree Courthouse – Glass Airlock

The completed sound reducing airlock structure.

G.James Taree has recently completed a small but complicated project – creating a sound reducing airlock around the entrance to Taree Courthouse.

The Problem

The courthouse was experiencing disturbance to court sessions, due to noise from outside the courtroom. People often congregate in the waiting area of the courthouse, which is directly in front of the courtroom. Every time the timber door of the court was opened, court microphones picked up outside noise, drowning out the court session and disrupting proceedings.

The Solution

G.James were engaged to create a glass airlock around the entrance, to eliminate the direct entry of sound into the courtroom. The existing glass roof and side panels were removed from the door structure, and replaced with larger ones that protruded 700mm further, to allow adequate clearance for operation of a frameless pivot door installed at the other end of the box. In total the airlock is 2700mm high x 2000mm wide x 2100 mm deep. The roof and wall panels are 13.52mm polar white toughened laminate, whilst the front is 12mm clear toughened laminate.


A number of factors added to the complexity of this project. Firstly, custom hardware had to be designed for the roof and front of the box, as no off-the-shelf fittings were suitable for this project. Close collaboration with Shearwater Marine resulted in four custom stainless steel brackets to fit the purpose.

Installation of the glass roof panel.

Space limitations in the work area also brought added difficulties. Simply transporting the glass into the building took the co-ordination of 6 men using pump up suckers and a small trolley. A custom brace had to be built with Acrow props and timber to remove the existing roof glass, and lift the new roof glass into place. Sucker machines which would regularly be used for such work were too large to fit into the timber structure.

Court sessions did not cease whilst G.James were onsite, so usual measuring equipment such as dumpy levels were unable to be used. Measurements and calculations for fixing holes in the glass were triple checked to ensure a good fit, however measurement inaccuracies due to the compromised setup meant carpet under the structure needed to be cut away to make the glass fit.

Work on site started smoothly, all existing glass was removed without incident. However when drilling for the installation of new glass began, the hammer drill used was making too much noise. The court session was disrupted, and work had to be halted to allow the court to function uninterrupted. To avoid further disruption, the pace of work was slowed and noisy aspects of the job were re-scheduled to take place in breaks and after-hours.

Working after-hours in the courthouse posed an additional complication, due to the sensitive nature of the court building.. Alarms and smoke detectors had to be disabled, and special permission had to be obtained to get after-hours access cards, as work was being carried out unsupervised.

Completing the structure took two very long days. Day one started at 8.30am and finished at 9.00pm and the second day ran from 9.00 am to 7.00 pm.

The end result

The airlock is now in place, and working as designed. Where sound used to flood in, a significant reduction in noise has been achieved, allowing the court to function uninterrupted. G.James Taree were able to take on a complicated job like this, where many others in the area could not, as they were able to draw on the expertise and experience in our Glass Division interstate to assist in this job.

Cairns Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre

Visitor Centre, Cairns Botanic Gardens

The new visitor centre at Cairns Botanical Gardens is quite literally a reflection of the tropical beauty of far north Queensland.

A ten minute drive from the centre of Cairns, the Botanic Gardens are a great place to unwind, and the new visitor information centre is the place to start.

Visitor Information Centre

The new visitor information centre is a $4.6 million dollar project to revamp the facility and provide an iconic new gateway into the gardens.

Designed by Charles Wright Architects and constructed by Hansen Yuncken, the building is a mixed use building, divided into two “wings” separated by a breezeway. One wing houses visitor facilities such as a cafe, gift store and auditorium, while the other functions as office space for council staff and includes a meeting room and administrative facilities.

On Friday 16th November 2012 the National MBA Awards were held in Canberra. The Cairns Botanic Garden Visitor Centre was awarded the National Commercial Construction ($5 million to $10 million) National MBA 2012 Award.

Green Building

Visitor Centre, Cairns Botanic Gardens Printed WallOne of the primary goals of the building was to be “green”, in order to complement the gardens. To achieve this a number of technologies and techniques were incorporated into the design.

A big focus was placed on environmentally sustainable design (or ESD). This includes a number of green features such as thermal/solar chimneys which allow convection ventilation and also provide natural light inside the building.

The building also features water collection for reuse in both the building and gardens, and a thermal mass system to passively cool the environment and reduce dependence on active cooling systems such as air conditioners.

In addition, the visitors wing includes glass stacking doors which fold up completely to allow maximum airflow and open the facility directly onto the gardens.

Mirrored Windows & Printed Glass

Visitor Centre, Cairns Botanic Gardens ShopThe most notable aspect of the project is the use of mirrors to reflect images of the lush gardens and blend the facility into its surroundings. This was achieved with a reflective film applied to the glass.

The lower level windows have artwork printed on the glass using a digital ceramic printing process. This complements the mirrored glass and brings an aesthetic quality both indoors and out.

Cairns Botanic Gardens

The Cairns Botanic Gardens area includes the Flecker Gardens, Centenary Lakes, Mt. Whitfield Conservation Park and the Tanks Art Centre. The newly constructed visitor centre offers a great way to explore the area and facilitate community activities, through the auditorium and locally sourced gift shop.

The new visitor centre was completed in late 2011 and is open to the public 7 days a week, excluding public holidays.