St Marys Boarding School Redevelopment, Grafton

St Marys Boarding School


Awarded 2009 Australian Institute of Architects NSW Country Division Winner Residential Architecture – Alterations and Additions category

The original Boarding School was constructed in 1929 and run by the Sisters of Mercy until its closure in 1993 when more up to date facilities were constructed nearby. Adaptive reuse of the building by converting it into residential units has given the building a new lease of life and provided a place for more of the Sisters to live within the Convent precinct. There are six units comprising 4 x 2 bedroom and 2 x 3 bedroom units. All bedrooms have a private ensuite or dual access bathroom. Over time much of the original character of the building was diminished, covered up or lost completely due to unsympathetic alterations and additions. Part of the philosophy in redeveloping the building was to respect its original character by restoring, repairing and retaining the original fabric where possible, while at the same time incorporating current regulatory requirements, parking and access for the aged and disabled. Where demolition was necessary a reference to the original structure has been retained or incorporated. Other considerations in the design were the relationships with other buildings in the precinct. Removal of the redundant chapel, which was wedged tightly between the Convent and Boarding School, restored the amenity of the Convent’s eastern elevation and provided an area for the new garages. The building facades were littered with a plethora of services. These were removed from the facades and concealed within the building.