Adapting heritage buildings for modern use
An effective way of conserving the history and heritage of an important site is to adapt the existing heritage buildings for modern use. Re-designing a building of this type brings challenges in retaining the historic character, conserving the original building fabric and achieving compatibility between original and new works. The design must be informed by an understanding of a heritage building’s significance, character and quality.
In September this year, Alison Homestead was officially opened. This heritage-listed Homestead houses the Wyong District Museum and Historical Society, and is Webber Architects’ most recently completed heritage project.
After much of the original building was damaged by fire, a new design was developed to reflect the original Homestead. The design involves a modern, non-dominant addition, considerate of the original building.
The new ‘Pearce Wing’, named after one of the founding families of the Homestead, encompasses communal open spaces in context with its uses. A central education and meeting space separates the original and new pavilions.
Externally, new metal roofs reflect the corrugated iron roofs of the oldest part of the Homestead; and the recycled brick walls supporting the education space, and rusted steel fascia’s provide an earthy tone to the building. The internal new building works are finished in modern materials and detailing. Polished concrete is detailed to shadow the walls of the original Homestead allowing visitors to interpret the original building whilst viewing the collection of artefacts on display.
Restoration has been undertaken to the scale and proportion to reflect the original Homestead. The outline of the original building is also reflected in the landscape to provide visitors with an understanding of the original size of the site and its relation to the surviving photographs of the site.