The former Hydro-Electric Substation, built in 1922, is one of Launceston’s most controversial landmarks. Situated high above the city, commanding attention, this grand, industrial gem is rich with historical and cultural significance. Since its closure in the 1960’s, the once distinguished, redbrick Victorian style substation had fallen into a state of disrepair. Posing many challenging and exciting design propositions, the client’s brief was to see it turned into a functional and beautiful home.
Perhaps the strongest design priority, which became inherent in all aspects of the design work, was to respect, restore and celebrate the existing heritage fabric, especially the original bricks, lime wash patina and distinctive façade details left over from its original glory days.
Acknowledging its past use, this project ultimately sought to begin an exciting new, but modest chapter in the building’s history. To realise this design priority, a painstaking process was undertaken by local trades to restore the façade to its original 1920’s condition.
The proposed internal work, to convert the substation to a comfortable home, was specifically designed not to detract from or dominate the original fabric in any way. Internally, it was important to maintain an industrial aesthetic and expose the original features. Divided into an upper and lower floor, the upper floor consisted of a single slab of polished concrete, set in 100mm from the original brick walls to differentiate the old and new. Splashes of stainless steel and black epoxy steel balustrades further enrich the industrial aesthetic. Together the owner and architect have holistically and sensitively repurposed the building, to a degree where the history remains integral and prominent in the overall scheme, but the contemporary program and aesthetic is reflective of the owner’s personality, values and life experiences. An extensive, lengthy and at times tiring, but exhilarating and fulfilling experience for all involved, this project has seen the Hydro-Electric substation reinstated with a classic, yet vivacious contemporary twist.