Restoration of heritage buildings by Kerry Hill Architects creates new luxury hotel in Perth
Story by Trends Publishing
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Perth's historic GPO and Titles Building find new life as the five-star Como The Treasury hotel
With the resources boom fuelling a thriving West Australia economy over the past decade, state capital Perth has been transforming itself into a vibrant hub for both residents and visitors. But while this is apparent in some impressive projects with a contemporary design aesthetic, the city has also set out to preserve buildings that reflect its history and heritage.
The latest example of this is the opening of a new five star hotel, Como The Treasury, in one of the city's most prominent civic precincts, where it sits alongside the new City of Perth Library, the 19th century architecture of St Georges Cathedral and a number of restaurants and specialist retailers.
The hotel itself is housed in a group of late 19th century, heritage-listed buildings, converted to their new use by Kerry Hill Architects. These include the imposing late Victorian General Post Office and the picturesque neo-renaissance Titles Building.
Terry Fripp, an associate at Kerry Hill Architects, says that initial planning studies with conservation architect Palassis Architects led to the decision to retain all the original government office rooms, and pair them via connecting doors so that each pair formed a guest room's bedroom and a bathroom.
"This saved the building from ad hoc internal division, and resulted in 48 handsome guest rooms, very few of which are alike," says Fripp.
"By carefully positioning the new services that were needed, we were able to retain the original tall windows. In some rooms, extremely high ceilings were carved out of the roof spaces, plus many rooms now have access to restored balconies overlooking the library and cathedral."`
Detailed restoration work on the exterior of the two buildings has resulted in 95% of these buildings being returned to their 19th century origins, including re-installing dormer windows and Victorian roofs finished with copper trimmings. Slate used on the roof has been replaced like for like, using more than 60,000 tiles imported from a quarry in North Wales
In places where there was no heritage to follow, the architects have used materials such as steel and glass to introduce a more modern aesthetic and so avoid any hint of historical pastiche.
The meticulous approach has continued on the interiors of the ground floor of the GPO building.
Several remarkable former public rooms, dominated by the original Postal Hall, together with other more intimate spaces, now anchor the public areas of the hotel. But it's not just hotel guests who benefit from these.
"As an important gesture by the developer, public access to the Postal Hall has been re-instated," says Terry Fripp. "It's become a covered arcade connecting St Georges Terrace through to the office Tower Plaza behind, while also connecting to ground floor restaurants and bars."
The Postal Hall has been beautifully restored with a restrained colour palette, an impressive new floor paved in three tones of Travertine and the extensive, renewed roof windows that flood the space with light.
Dining options off the Postal Hall include Post, which occupies an existing, conservatory-like later addition to the GPO. In keeping with the original structure, it features simple white-washed brick walls, exposed steel roof trusses and roof windows.
"The guest rooms are spread over four floors and were conceived as calm and peaceful retreats from the outside world," says Fripp. "They have a fresh colour scheme of creamy whites, accented with grey-greens and bronzes seen in West Australian native foliage. Bespoke and commissioned furniture was designed using pale limed oak."
To round off guest facilities, a new five-storey annexe was added to the hotel and includes a double volume glazed space with a travertine lap pool below a small teakwood and mirror-panelled gymnasium.
First published date: 10 May 2016