Commercial art gallery

Halifax Street: A Dynamic Habitat for Adaptive Architecture

According to the identity of theater and radio host Peter Goers, the section of Halifax Street between King William Road and Hurtle Square was once a wide, empty street with a large parking lot populated by “derros” and “prossies”. Goers recalled his theatrical debut at the reopening of the state-owned Q Theater (the former Stow Memorial Church Sunday School), now beautifully restored by the Assad-Salha family as an art gallery and meeting place .

Along with major structural repairs to the roof and footings, the artist family built a pair of two-story residential apartments (both with wooden stairs) at either end of the building, and added a new stage Jarrah, a bar and a glass atrium in the auditorium. The meticulous renovation offers a view of another state-listed local landmark – the red-brick chimney of the city’s former waste disposal depot. (Police used to burn seized marijuana crops there, Goers claims, so other comedians would open the Q’s tall windows and get high.)

“Before” and “after” shots of the restoration of the Q Theater.

Much is often made of Adelaide’s missed opportunities, and one of them has to be the City Council’s failure to embrace and facilitate Paul Downton’s vision of an ‘ecopolis’ at the disposal site. of waste – a revolutionary concept that continues to influence global planning. and design to date. The October 1999 issue of Urban ecology newsletter expresses the disappointment of the architect at the time:

“Instead of a car-free, environmentally responsible, mixed-use urban development that embraces street life and celebrates the city’s social diversity, the planning clique has driven developers towards a built form that adds 6 new roads to a site that never had one, mixes cars in all public and semi-public spaces in the 2.2 hectare site, has no mixed use, places 2 meter blank walls against the street rather than the facades of houses or shops, and offers a diversity of occupation limited duration or type.

Downton’s original vision for 400 eco-friendly homes and gardens, along with 30 businesses, community facilities and generous open spaces, could have led the world, added progressive momentum to Adelaide’s CBD and attracted residents and visitors alike. trendsetters – like Urban Ecology does. small realization of the idea at Christie Walk on Sturt Street.

The original Halifax Ecopolis project. Picture: Paul Downton

Nevertheless, the Halifax Street area has become a habitat for architectural adaptation and reinvention, as well as cultural, social and economic diversification – a development that began with the cleanup and sale of the depot site to the late 1990s.

Tectvs’ eventual design for the site included heritage planning for the conversion of the city’s former incinerator to The Greek on Halifax landmark, the provision of some community and public housing in existing cottages and new construction, a range of two- and three-bedroom townhouses and apartments and the five-story Lumiere apartment building. The result is practical rather than visionary, with concessions to the automobile limiting the incorporation of cooling biophilic elements and spaces that were a hallmark of the urban ecology vision.

The Tectvs Lumière building, with the middle strip of Halifax Street in the foreground.

Plants, cars and pedestrians compete for space in the redevelopment of the Tectv city waste depot.

The sale and redevelopment of the depot coincided with substantial council improvements to the surrounding streets. This included the installation of Louis Poulsen lampposts and a median strip of native grasses and jacaranda trees along Halifax Street – perhaps one of the most successful urban design interventions in the council’s recent history . (I’ve often wondered why several failed attempts to upgrade Sturt Street didn’t just follow the same pattern.)

Across the road from the site of the redeveloped depot is the stunning Slatters shoe factory, supplier of the nation’s ‘Boots for the Troops’ during World War II. The building was sold in 2002 and now houses a yoga and pilates studio, a real estate and architecture company, a small business “innovation factory” and a small cluster of two-story residential apartments – an early example of a successful business. mixed-use warehouse conversion.

The Slatters factory conversion with the Louis Poulsen streetlight in the foreground.

The Halifax Street ecosystem includes several side streets and adjacent lanes that are currently undergoing architectural transformation, as well as landscaping improvements.

Sydney Place, for example, is between the Slatters Building and the Herringbone Restaurant, itself a 19e20th century corner townhouse with covered courtyard and typical street art. Two eye-catching new buildings have recently been added to the street, one a three-story residence designed by architects Phil Burton and Domenico Allegretto and the other a commercial office by Enzo Caroscio Architecture, whose own office is also located here .

Both sites had their challenges, being less than 250m² with 8m of frontage. Built on four levels, the Nowland residence includes a garage, a textile printing studio, a bathroom, an interior garden and a graphic design studio on the ground floor; bedrooms, a bathroom, garden terrace and laundry room on the first floor; a kitchen and living space upstairs; and storage next to a rooftop solar panel bank.

The Nowland Residence on Sydney Place by Phil Burton and Domenico Allegretto, with corner window and mixed-use streetscape in the background.

Enzo Caroscio’s brief for a contemporary open-plan office and entertainment space led to a two-level building with skylights and concealed spaces to achieve a vast open space filled with natural light. The facade was designed to sit between a three-story apartment building and the red-brick Nowland Residence. The deep steel plate construction allowed the architect to play with the streetscape in an elegant composition of solid, glass and shadow. Next door, the Nowland family interacts with the street through a very cute “corner window” space, showcasing their own creations and restorations.

The Sydney Place office building by Enzo Caroscio Architecture. Photos: David Sievers

On St Helena’s Place, a recent warehouse conversion by Proske Architects allows commercial owner-occupiers to engage with the street community through subtle openings into a semi-outdoor front buffer space used for meetings, events and occasional gatherings. Here, translucent roof sheets add a tonal element, while the existing sawtooth roof interior and warehouse feel are retained, with clerestory windows diffusing soft ambient light throughout.

Conversion of Proske Architects warehouse for Leyton Property. Photos: Sam Noonan

Street art adds an edgy urban element to the compound.

Back on Halifax Street, Oxigen Studio Halifax similarly enhances and enhances the streetscape and the building’s relationship to the community. The shape, openness and use of raw, natural materials capture the qualities of the street and provide a human, handcrafted feel that instantly connects to the neighborhood in ways that were new and surprising when construction was completed in 2015.

Oxigen Halifax studio values ​​its relationship with the street community. Photo: Oxygen

Down the road at Seoul Sisters Café, a more recent urban intervention by Oxigen connects the open Halifax Street facade directly to the upper-level courtyard, drawing north-facing sunlight and ventilation to the spaces interiors of what would otherwise have been a dark, south-facing storefront. The modern insertion also juxtaposes successfully with single-storey bluestone townhouses on one side and two-story brick residences of character on the other.

Seoul Sisters cafe and rooftop by Oxigen. Photos: Oxygen

Three future projects by Proske Architects continue an approach of working with the urban context to create new legacies for existing buildings, while contributing generously to the public realm. Their proposal for Robinson’s former body shop saved the site from an unwanted tower and is now evolving to include a retail/hospitality offering facing Halifax, with a restored saw-tooth shape above existing brick and bluestone facades towards Halifax and Place Symonds. The landscaping will spill over onto the public shoulder, while an additional “secret” courtyard will integrate the one-story-scale facade with a taller feature at the rear.

Proske Architect’s proposal for 27 Halifax Street will retain and enhance an old industrial gem. Proske images

The redevelopment will provide an interior courtyard for meetings and get-togethers.

Returning to the east corner of Hallet and Halifax, Proske’s redesign of a neglected two-story commercial building will retain the existing frontage of both streets to achieve internal changes with minimal impact on the street, while respecting the newly restored Q Theater ladder across the road. The objective is to house a reception area on the ground floor and multiple commercial spaces with varied perspectives above.

Proske Architects’ redesign of a neglected commercial building respects the scale of the state’s heritage-listed Q Theater and the compound’s iconic chimney. Image: Proske

Next to another Halifax Street heritage icon is a third Proske-renovated office. The Catcorp client brief resulted in a design that will connect to the street and complement the state-owned Rob Roy Hotel next door, while maintaining a buffer zone for the more private elements of the commercial building. Like the Leyton Warehouse upgrade and Oxigen studio next door, a street-friendly approach informs the design of the front area, where large functional openings above a planter encourage people to wait or potentially to work on the custom bench, creating a relaxed environment and interactive entrance, work and waiting area.

The Catcorp office renovation by Proske Architects is aimed at the street. Image: Proske

Apparently Proske, Caroscio and Oxigen have more plans up their sleeves for the area, and it’s no surprise that these generous and restorative architectural interventions stem from progressive architectural practices within the compound. Those of us who live and work here see a thriving community ecosystem at play.

The Assad-Salha Family SALA Exhibition at Q on Hallett, 5 Hallett Street, continues through August 28 (Wednesday-Sunday 10am-4pm).

Stephanie Johnston is a former book publisher turned urban planner who lives and works in the old Slatters shoe factory building.

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