History lesson

as featured in
Left derelict for more than 20 years, this former brewery now houses a collection of apartments designed to maximise the historic elements of a prime inner-city site
Trees in timber planter boxes in paved lane alley, apartment, brick, courtyard, facade, home, neighbourhood, real estate, brown, orange
Trees in timber planter boxes in paved lane between old and new buildings.

Plenty of vision is necessary for any historicrestoration project, but some sites present an extra challenge to conservation architects.

The refurbishment of the Kent Town Brewery in Adelaide is a case in point. Although the site provides one of the city's few remaining examples of industrial architecture of the late 1800s, it had been disused for more than 20 years and left in a state of disrepair. This neglect was compounded by the presence of several large concrete silos built in later years a factor that contributed to an initial hesitation by developers to become involved.

But, Tritan Corporation director Greg Molfetas says his company saw opportunities in the site and enlisted the skills of conservation architect Jason Pruszinski of Woodhead International.

"Right from the outset, this was always going to be a difficult project due to the historic nature of the site and the state of neglect," Molfetas says.

Tritan Corporation's proposal involved the restoration of the bluestone buildings that surround a quadrangle, and the construction of a series of residential apartments within and around these wings. In accordance with a conservation plan prepared in 1995, all previous additions detracting from the appreciation of the original brewery building complex were demolished. This included the removal of the structurally unsound 1919 concrete malt house silos within the quadrangle and the 1950s malt-house additions in the north wing.

Molfetas says Tritan Corporation wanted to minimise the impact of any new construction on the site in recognition of the heritage value of the existing stone buildings. The company also wanted a large apartment tower planned for the centre of the quadrangle to reflect the form of the original concrete silos.

Apartment complex with original bluestone walls, red brick brick, brickwork, building, facade, historic site, medieval architecture, property, roof, sky, wall, window, brown, blue
Apartment complex with original bluestone walls, red brick features, and new galvanised steel roofing.

Pruszinski says the project was planned from the outset to be an exemplar for the conservation and adaptive reuse of such historic buildings.

"We needed to respect the original heritage elements and work within that framework to achieve an interesting outcome," he says. "However, we also wanted to make a valid contribution to the ongoing history of the site."

Pruszinski says all new elements were given a contemporary treatment, with modern materials and detailing.

"We chose to deliberately contrast the heritage aspects," he says. "We wanted a distinction between the old and the new so that the building could still be read in its original form. At the same time, however, we were respectful of the existing architecture in terms of proportion and scale."

Window and door openings in the stone buildings maintain the rhythm and proportion of the original fenestration, but feature square flat heads rather than slightly arched heads. For other new elements, the use of steel, glass and timber achieves a contemporary expression that is readily identifiable from the original heritage fabric. These materials also provide an industrial look that is a tangible link to the past, says Pruszinski.

The project involved the extensive restoration of the bluestone walls particularly the four-storey stone tower. Pruszinski says the stone was repointed with new lime-based mortar. To aid moisture control, the mortar was injected with a damp-proof membrane at the base of the wall. Basement walls were also repaired using traditional methods. Sacrificial lime-based poultice was used to preserve the stone. Pavers, rather than concrete, also help to control basement moisture. The basement has been extended under the quadrangle and now provides carparking.

Landscaping in front of heritage building with new apartment, architecture, building, condominium, estate, facade, home, house, neighbourhood, property, real estate, residential area, roof, sky, tree, window, brown
Landscaping in front of heritage building with new high rise apartment behind.

Other traditional elements incorporated include new turrets and galvanised steel roofs on the heritage buildings, similar to the original.

The curved design of the new apartment high-rise acknowledges the silos that once stood on the site, but is a completely new construction.

Molfetas says the overall project provides many apartment alternatives to cater to a wider market segment. Apartments in the heritage buildings are all different to maximise the spaces available. Apartments in the new high-rise include two penthouses, one of which is shown on these pages.

Here, contemporary materials and warm tones create a welcoming ambience. Apartments in the high-rise have also been designed to maximise light and views and offer flexibility of layout.

Dec 17, 2004

Credit list

Woodhead International; project architect Jason Pruszinski; design architect Brian Emmett; team members Jim Williams, Brian McMillan
Structural and civil consultant
Ginos Engineers
Landscape consultant
Woodhead International
Quality consultant
Acoustic consultant
Tritan Corporation
Galvanised custom orb from BHP/Fielders
Timber windows
MR Gorden and Co
Exclusive Cabinet Makers
Ambitio and Pinako
Electrical, mechanical and hydraulic consultant
Environmental consultant
Koukourou Engineers
Conservation plan and concept development
Bruce Harry and Associates
Interior designer, penthouses
Mary Ash and Simon Dodd, Woodhead International
Structural steel supplier
Metal work
Woods Constructional Engineering
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