Even modern buildings can be converted
Category Adaptive Reuse | Project Barry Street, Carlton | Architects Hayball Architects Melbourne
The former Victorian Bricklayers' Society site was constructed in the 1970s as a commercial building in a primarily light industrial precinct. Since then, increasing numbers of residential and educational buildings have moved in—some through conversion, others as new construction.
This project presented two main challenges: the conversion of a commercial structure to residential use and the addition of contemporary floors to a relatively non-descript existing building.
Rather than demolish or obscure the former brick building, the design preserves the shell and differentiates the new floors with contrasting architectural elements. The use of sculpted, non-symmetrical and colourful upper floors makes the conversion obvious, recognising the history of the site and the precinct as a whole. At the same time, the vertical extension of the glass entry lobby unifies the design and clearly identifies the building entrance.
The residential conversion of a site is not limited to either demolishing the entire structure or slavishly imitating it. This project demonstrates that a combination of unifying elements and contrasting styles can regenerate a precinct without erasing its past.