Feature Article - Recycling and conservation of selected Tasmanian buildings
The term conservation means ‘all the processes of looking after a place so as to retain its cultural significance. It includes maintenance and may according to circumstance include preservation, restoration, reconstruction and adaptation and will be commonly a combination of more than one of these. Recycling within the building industry’ means ‘keeping an old building useful by converting it to a new use. Tasmania has numerous buildings that have undergone conservation and recycling. Some recent notable projects of conservation and recycling of 20th century buildings are detailed below.
ELIZABETH STREET PIER (Architect: Heffernan Button Voss)
Elizabeth Street Pier was first constructed in 1866 at the end of Elizabeth Street Hobart to provide steamship accommodation. Between 1931 and 1934, the original pier was demolished and the new pier was built with the addition of a rail connection. The Elizabeth Street Pier is the last remaining major finger wharf in Sullivans Cove, Hobart. The project was to maintain the presence of the existing shed form and maintain maritime usage and full public access around the perimeter, while converting the building to a new use, which included the housing of serviced apartments and restaurants.
The new Elizabeth Street Pier building has retained the front and rear walls of the original structure as well as the concrete columns and some infill panels at the sides of the building. These have been repainted but the original texture has been retained. Rail lines to the forecourt and pier aprons have also been retained. To complement the original character of the pier’s exterior, new stainless steel gutters, downpipes, railing and translucent glass screens have been added, and many of the side panels of the building have been replaced with glazing. The new Elizabeth Street Pier building has maintained the original simple and industrial character of the building.
FORESTRY TASMANIA HEADQUARTERS (Architect: Morris-Nunn & Associates & Blythe Yeung & Associates)
Two 1930s heritage-listed buildings in Melville Street Hobart were recycled to form part of the development of the new Forestry Tasmania Headquarters. The brick warehouse and office buildings were originally built for building merchants Crisp and Gunn, and the site was the former home of the first sawmill in Van Diemen's Land. Although the two 1930s buildings were not classified by the National Trust, the Hobart City Council required the facades to be retained as part of the redevelopment.
The key elements of the design included showcasing the clever uses of timber products and reflecting the philosophy of Forestry Tasmania in terms of the spectrum of wood products and wood use. The centrepiece of the new building is a large, timber-framed, dome-shaped conservatory. The dome encloses a natural forest of trees unique to Tasmania and the frame is constructed of new timber, representing new technologies. Large oregon and hardwood trusses were salvaged from the original buildings and were used to create pyramid roofs and a high pedestrian bridge across the forest area, representing the use of old timber technology. The new Forestry Tasmanian Headquarters succeeds in bringing together new and recycled materials as well as incorporating new and old timber technology.
TASMANIAN ABORIGINAL CENTRE INC (Architect: Bush Parkes Shugg & Moon Pty Ltd)
The project for the new Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre Inc. redeveloped a 1934 warehouse in Charles Street, Launceston, which had been used as a supplier’s warehouse for the electrical industry. The building is separated into two sections to accommodate the Aboriginal Health Service and the Aboriginal Legal Service and these sections are connected by a central community and meeting area.
The design of the development was tailored to the client’s desire to express ownership and provide an identity without the usual constraints of a particular historical style. The building design re-interprets the idea of Aboriginal relationships to the land and sky, acknowledging the early forms of shelter and relating a sensory approach to built form with the physical requirements needed for the centre. The meeting area features a glazed roof with automated louvres to allow natural light into the building and provide temperature control. The re-development of the original warehouse has created a building with a theme of individuality, a sense of place and a feeling of community.
THE OLD WOOLSTORE REDEVELOPMENT (Architect: Forward Viney Woollan)
The Old Woolstore is a group of buildings dating from the 1890s to the 1930s, which were constructed and used by Roberts Ltd as woolstores and for general agricultural merchandising. The street facades of the original buildings in Macquarie Street and Park Street Hobart, are listed on the Register of the National Estate, the National Trust Register and are included in the City of Hobart Planning Scheme Register. The collection of brick buildings relate to the gasworks buildings opposite and are examples of industrial period pieces.
While the old buildings have been transformed in a 59-unit hotel, the original brick and stucco material on the street facades have been maintained and emphasised without rejuvenation, cleaning or painting. New building elements followed the principal structure of the original buildings of load-bearing brickwork, timber floors and timber-trussed roof construction clad with corrugate. The courtyards have been designed to maintain the industrial feel of the original buildings. The new work completed does not replicate the existing buildings but forms a balance so that neither new or old dominate.