About the project
Conrad Gargett was engaged by the Queensland Government Department of Education to provide heritage advisory and design services for the state heritage listed National School Building at Warwick East State School. As one of the oldest surviving school buildings in Queensland, the National School Building required extensive conservation, repair and compliance upgrade works whilst retaining and reusing as much of the original built fabric as possible.
The damaging layers of plastic and lead paint were removed, and the built-up salts were extracted from the brickwork walls. The original 1864 hand-pressed bricks were then turned around, brick by brick, to bring new life to the building. All of the timber door, window joinery and structural framing was refurbished, and the natural ventilation systems were reinstated. The surrounding footpaths were regraded, and a ramp was added to the east, to provide compliant access to the building. Due to the reactive clay soil and intermittent flooding of the site, the entire building was underpinned with a raft slab to prevent further cracking.
Through the conservation work, future generations in the school and the greater Warwick community will be able to appreciate and engage with this part of local history.
Our approach involved undertaking much-needed conservation and repair works with minimal detrimental impact on the heritage fabric and significance. All new work needed to be reversible and not detract from the original building elements.
The building also needed to be more resilient to flooding and to provide DDA access to the building and upgrade the services to current standards. The site floods intermittently, which affected design decisions. All services are raised up and reticulated from above where possible. The timber floor has additional expansion joints to minimise buckling when wet. The subfloor space is designed to be hosed down, pumped out and ventilated post-floods. The mineral paint on the brickwork allows moisture to escape. The turned bricks were left unpainted with sacrificial lime rich mortar that should attract most of the moisture (and salts) away from the bricks. The tops and bottoms of doors and timber posts were painted to minimise swelling during flooding. The ramp is spaced away from the building with a removable threshold to allow the building to be hosed down and for brick repairs to be undertaken.
This project involves the adaptive reuse of a state heritage listed project. We repaired and reused as much of the existing building fabric as possible. The inherent ESD features in the building were re-activated, including reinstating all of the natural ventilation systems. We developed future design requirements up to schematic design so that we could allow for these future works and minimise abortive work when the future works are undertaken.
2023 AIA Architecture Awards — The Don Roderick Award For Heritage, Queensland State Award
2023 AIA Architecture Awards — Commendation Heritage Architecture
2023 AIA Architecture Awards — People's Choice Award, Darling Downs and West Moreton Region