Located in Goulburn Street, this Heritage listed Georgian building was built in circa 1828, and was originally known as the Bulls Head Hotel. A notorious watering hole during the early 1800’s, the sandstone building later served as a private school, and then finally became a private residence. As an admirer of the building since his early childhood, the client purchased the property in a dilapidated state, and sought to restore the building and convert it into two inner-city apartments. At the outset, it was felt that work within a building of such strength of character and historical importance must be minimal. Given the conditions of the brief, including a tight budget, the proposal needed to be composed of a series of small-scale, material interventions. The accented use of materials lends greater clarity to the existing fabric, and is an approach that has been honed within the practice over a number of years. The interventions that were subsequently proposed sought to increase the livability and amenity of the existing spaces, while also heightening the experience of the original heritage fabric.
A key design challenge for the project was to reconcile and carefully rework the sectional relationship throughout the building, which, prior to any intervention, was split awkwardly across 5 ½ levels. A lack of natural light and poor condition of the interior also meant that a large proportion of the budget was used in restorative work, involving the removal of walls and an opening of the building to sunlight and the rear courtyard.
Rigorous research and ongoing liaison with Heritage officers, allowed for the reinstatement of an original opening within the façade, which was a major determinant in the arrangement of the apartments. Importantly the building retains its strong character to the street, magnifying the external order of the Classical Georgian envelope against the amenity and dynamism of the interior.
The two resulting apartments are each distinct in character. Connected via the original Huon pine staircase, the upper level apartment is more formally derived, and centres on the original living room overlooking Goulburn Street. In comparison, the lower level apartment is split dynamically across 3 levels, and establishes new connections from the street, through to a new courtyard at the rear. Importantly the original cherry blossom was retained throughout onsite works, and serves to trigger the intimacy of the courtyard. The project required a considerable number of onsite detail design discussions with the builder, who executed details with extraordinary sensitivity and craftsmanship. All timbers and sandstone removed during the restoration were reconditioned and reused elsewhere in the project. The Tasmanian oak joinery elements are treated variously as spatial dividers and as a material contrast against the existing fabric.
Throughout the process the client’s involvement, regard and passion for the project ensured that the greatest degree of quality could be achieved: “Often I have heard from my friends that relations with the architect become strained towards the end of a job, nothing could be further from the case…the result speaks volumes.”