The Edith Cavell refurbishment sought to reimagine a significant Queensland heritage building for the future, bringing a once decrepit building back to life, while simultaneously telling the stories of its past by respecting its historical built form, character and setting. The proposed adaptive reuse for the building includes the provision of commercial and centre activity tenancies on all three levels, which have capacity to serve a variety of uses including shops, food and drink outlets, offices, health care services and indoor sport & recreation.
Original internal features including doors, windows, mouldings, and trims have been largely retained, except where damaged by the black mould. All new openings have been designed to contrast against the original fabric by being trimmed in timber. To accommodate the priorities outlined in the Conservation Management Plan, one of the original sitting rooms as well as a cluster of nurses’ cubicles in the north-western wing have been retained as representative samples, demonstrating the original layout of the building. The main foyer, including the silky oak wall panelling and bronze plaque, the foundation stone and the original internal stairs have been preserved with slight modifications to achieve compliance. Proposed painting to both external and internal surfaces have been informed by a colour scheme which was determined by an archival record of the previous paint colour schemes, for reinstating in critical areas such as the main internal stair, nurses’ cubicles, and external elements.
By repurposing the existing building, the cost and purchasing of new materials and structure was reduced compared to a new build, and existing materials were also reviewed and repaired to encourage a continued, lengthy lifespan, therefore minimising construction and material waste, as well as lifecycle costs.
Three new doors were inserted in existing window openings on the southern façade, promoting a sense of permeability and connectedness to the central public square – a community node that links all three of the heritage buildings (Lady Lamington, Edith Cavell & Lady Norman). This activated frontage will facilitate outdoor dining along this edge, connected to the food and drink outlet planned for the ground floor of the building. The proposed doors have been detailed to minimise their visual impact whilst remaining easily identifiable as new work (an important concept put forward by the Heritage Architect), in line with the general strategy of utilising an aluminium glazed system with a powder coated ‘monument’ frame for all new doors and windows in Edith Cavell. These new interventions work to create greater façade permeability and encourage new street activation.