m3architecture returns historic heart of Nudgee College to former glory – Architecture and Design



26/07/2022 0
Architecture news & editorial desk
More than a decade of master planning along with painstaking research by m3architecture has helped restore the State Heritage listed Treacy Precinct at St Joseph's Nudgee College to its former glory.
Considered the historic heart of Nudgee College – the first purpose-built boarding college constructed in Queensland in the late 1880s – Treacy Precinct contains the school’s foundation buildings. However, a series of unsympathetic alterations and additions over the years had stripped the buildings and surrounding malls of their character. Changes included removal of the original elegant timber and iron lacework verandas, which were replaced with concrete, leading to the symbolic Mary's Tower, the highest point in the local area being largely concealed. The addition of a three-storey classroom block, the Gallagher Building, cut off important campus connections.
Following the award-winning restoration by m3architecture, the original verandas have been reinstated, with contemporary detailing and clever reuse of the original iron lacework as sun shading. Mary's Tower has been uncovered, letting light back into its stunning internal stairwell. The original colour scheme of the building is back while the interiors have been restored and re-configured to meet contemporary needs. They now house 10 new classrooms, spaces for teachers and administration, a health centre and the College Museum.
Treacy Precinct
Describing the restoration as the consolidation of more than a decade of master planning, project lead and m3architecture director, Ben Vielle said, "A big part of this is bringing people back into the precinct and making it lively again. We put classrooms back into the Treacy buildings to get students up on the verandas again, and all of the main staff offices and social spaces have been moved here as well."
The demolition of the Gallagher Building has restored the visual and physical connection to the adjacent Chapel, Ross Oval and its heritage timber grandstand. New gathering and social spaces have also been created in Edmund Rice Mall, making the precinct a hive of activity.
"A large marquee has been designed to fit in Edmund Rice Mall for sit-down banquets, auditorium-style events or stand-up functions," Vielle added.
The engagement between the architects and the school began in 2008, with Vielle praising the principal, Peter Fullagar and the College Advisory Council for supporting the vision.
"To have the heritage of the school connect to our core business of learning and teaching is really important. The new classrooms are conducive to learning – they're well designed and they're good for teaching in," Fullagar noted.
The Treacy Precinct received the Don Roderick Award for Heritage at the 2022 Queensland Architecture Awards.
The Jury Citation stated: “Undertaking thorough research, respect for previous architectural intent, selective removal, and a restrained design solution, the project works succeed on many levels. The restoration of significant spaces, the addition of discrete modern interventions, and the innovative reuse of original fabric demonstrate a competent and refined understanding of conservation architecture, education, and the history of the school.”
Photography credits: Christopher Frederick Jones
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