Sacred Heart architect announced
Posted by Maggie Maguire on 25 Jan 2016
You've probably heard by now that the Abbotsford Convent Foundation (ACF) is going to restore a whopping big building at the Convent called Sacred Heart. It is literally located in the ‘heart’ of the site and covers over 3,000 square metres on multiple floors.
As it’s such a massive space, the ACF has never really spent much time thinking about what might be done with the building if it was to be restored and made legal to occupy. So we put a specific brief out to a bunch of terrific Melbourne-based architectural firms. After an intense assessment process, we are thrilled to announce that we have appointed Kerstin Thompson Architects (KTA) to help make Sacred Heart come alive. They seem to be as excited as we are about the project and we’re delighted to have such a passionate and creative team on board!
Established in 1994, KTA’s work encompasses architecture, interiors, landscape and urban design. It is extremely varied and ranges in scale and program; from intimate and highly bespoke retail fit outs, through to schools and infrastructure projects. Their public projects include five police stations for Victoria Police, a fire station, visitor centre and museum. So we are in good hands!
“The project represents an opportunity to rethink and reimagine a site with a rich history and a vibrant present-day life as a cultural and artistic precinct,” says KTA Director Kerstin Thompson. “It’s a place of gathering, of creativity, learning and festivities, and written into its fabric is an important chapter of Melbourne’s history and architectural heritage. In designing a space to accommodate a mix of creative businesses, workshops, learning and exhibition spaces, our challenge has been to respect the site’s history while creating spaces for its future that are functional, flexible and a pleasure to be in.”
"Part of the design process", says Kerstin, "is that it involves reflecting on the existing site; its unique features and day-to-day functions both historically and in the Convent’s present incarnation. In this sense, the Oratory has been a place to speak, the refuge a place of sanctuary, the infirmary a place of restoration, the refectory a place of nourishment – each of these key themes building towards an overall understanding of how the site’s unique components marry together…”
One of KTA's guiding principles has been to use what is found; that is, how to achieve the maximum effect in design through minimum intervention. Now they are pondering how to celebrate the existing spirit of the Convent and its community, while creating spaces that will nurture its future growth and development.
It’s anticipated that the actual building work will start in October and will take about 12 months to complete. In the coming months, the ACF will call for Registrations of Interest for a range of different tenants to fill Sacred Heart. Stay tuned on that one!
And please do follow the Convent's Instagram as we track the journey of Sacred Heart's refurbishment.