About the Project
South Brisbane’s historic Mater Convent has been revitalised into Queensland’s largest and most comprehensive perinatal mental health facility. Catherine’s House for Mothers, Babies and Families, located at the heart of the Mater Hill campus has been created in response to the pressing need for perinatal mental health support in the region.
Conrad Gargett collaborated with Mater Health and the Sisters of Mercy as the principal consultant to transform the 1920s former Convent into a contemporary multi-purpose perinatal mental health facility.
The project involved balancing the preservation of the building’s heritage with the integration of contemporary building services and meeting current certification requirements.
The former convent’s small cellular rooms presented challenges to accommodate a Level 6 mental health facility and meet contemporary requirements for clinical spaces and residential inpatient suites. To overcome these challenges, the project team physically simulated typical operational scenarios to determine how beds and equipment could be accommodated and moved within the building.
The building’s original stained-glass windows, terrazzo flooring, and ornate timber wall panelling have been conserved and refurbished, while new doors and openings have been added with sensitivity to the building’s history. The historic verandas have been enclosed in a manner that retains the original intent of the building, and the three dominant sets of stairs have been immaculately conserved and upgraded to meet modern certification requirements.
The facility includes ten accommodation suites that are designed to feel like homely spaces while meeting high-level clinical requirements. Each room includes a separate lounge area and an adjoining baby room with a cot and change table. Interaction among mothers and families is encouraged with group dining, shared lounge areas, and communal baby bathing facilities available, as well as a large secure courtyard for enjoying the outdoors.
The final result is a facility that seamlessly integrates the heritage of the Convent with contemporary design and clinical requirements, creating a meaningful place for post-natal care in South East Queensland.