The team at Frasers Property Australia, Arqus Design and Hutchinson Builders are intent on making a mark on history, as they officially unveil 'The Residences' Yungaba House, following an extensive restoration program more than a decade in the making.
Since acquiring the site in 2003, the developers claimed to be insistent that their masterplan was centred on the historical significance of Yungaba House at Kangaroo Point, which stands as a lasting tribute to 130 years of Brisbane’s living history.
“From the outset, Yungaba House was perceived as the jewel in the crown,” Arqus Design Director Scott Peabody said, recalling his design journey for The Residences.
“That meant preserving the view corridor, and the heritage width of Yungaba House was paramount. Everything else almost became secondary.
“We didn’t want to impact the architectural qualities of this wonderful building in any way, and I am proud to say we have achieved that. It has a wonderful history and an amazing fabric.”
Keeping in mind to honour the site's heritage, Frasers Property progressed plans to create three new apartment buildings on the site. The low-rise apartment buildings, named Linc, Promontory and Affinity, were set against the heritage-listed gardens that define the riverfront site below the Storey Bridge at Kangaroo Point.
The history of Yungaba House dates to 1887 when it was first established as an immigration centre. In later years, it was used as a temporary refuge for destitute soldiers returning from the Boer War.
In the 1930s it became an accommodation centre for workers building the new Story Bridge, as well as a design studio for bridge engineer John Bradfield, and later as a hospital in World War II.
“Each of The Residences has been designed to reflect parts of this history, and each home has its story to tell,” Peabody said.
“This is not an apartment building. It is 10 residences, each with its own identity and its own front door. That takes a distinct mindset to bring together.
“It was never about shoehorning 10 apartments into a heritage building. The way we approached the internal subdivision was to be very mindful of its former uses and to reflect this in the design and how that interfaced with modern living spaces.
“Then it was a matter of celebrating those heritage qualities in every single house. The Bradfield Residence, for example, was part of the male dormitory and we designed it in a way that celebrates the sky lights that filtered into Bradfield’s drawing studio."Peabody said the best way to think of the project is 10 luxury homes of equal quality even though the character of each house varies. There are rooms that have a different feel simply because of the heritage fabric.
“I believe we have successfully balanced the expression of that fabric and the original heritage character of the building with the creation of a suite of high-end residences with expectations that are right up there by today’s standards," Peabody said.
The Residences’ project manager Christopher Chainey, of Hutchinson Builders, spent more than a decade in the UK restoring historic buildings and converting them into modern living spaces.
“Rescuing this historic building from what was a very derelict state and bringing it back to its former glory over a very limited timeframe has been a great achievement,” Chainey said.
Construction took just 12 months and drew on Hutchinson’s extensive database of skilled trades in the field of restoration.
“With any project of this type and scale, it’s essential that we work as a complete team with the developer and the designer because everyone has to be on the same page,” Chainey said.
“That ultimately defined the success of this project and what was achieved in that time.”
The proximity of the Story Bridge made acoustics a major priority for Hutchinson Builders.
“All windows were replaced with specialised acoustic glass, together with high-end door seals and window seals,” Chainey said.
“Internally, partition walls and floors have also been designed with acoustics that is well above minimum requirements.”
Hutchinson’s brought in a team of specialist trades from Tasmania to restore 135 windows at Yungaba House, replacing 400 pieces of glass in total.
The restoration required the removal of beads and sashes, which had to be individually catalogued and labelled. On refitting, each window was balanced and re-weighted with extra lead as needed to ensure smooth operation.
Frasers Property Australia’s General Manager Residential Queensland Cameron Leggatt described The Residences as a fitting end to the Yungaba House master plan.
“The opportunity to bring this historic property back to life has been rewarding for the entire project team,” Leggatt said.
“Our vision for Yungaba House has been clear from the very beginning. This was an opportunity to restore one of Brisbane’s oldest buildings while preserving its historical integrity.
“The work undertaken from the design right through to the construction has delivered a suite of world-class residences that will keep that history alive for generations to come.”
Images courtesy Scott Burrows and Paul Giggle.