Hamilton Wilson is the Managing Director of Wilson Architects, and well known for his exceptional design work in community and public buildings, education architecture and adaptive reuse. Here, Hamilton shares his thoughts on the Adderton: house & heart of mercy project.
What were your first impressions of Adderton?
The former All Hallows’ Convent is such an extraordinary site, that grew from the tiny house known as Adderton. It’s an integral, yet largely unknown, piece of Brisbane’s history, being formed from one of the very first major houses built on the river in 1857.
What informs and inspires your vision for the Adderton: house & heart of mercy redevelopment?
We want to increase engagement with the broader community of Brisbane, and visitors to the city. This has fuelled our vision to better reveal Adderton to the public and increase visitors’ access.
We are inspired by the Sisters’ legacy of the past, and how it can sustain itself into the future. Our vision is to encourage visitors to engage with Adderton in a number of different ways within the complex, all the while creating a better understanding of its history.
In terms of architectural history, Wilson Architects is proud to be following in the footsteps of our city’s built design forebears—from Andrew and John Petrie (who built Adderton) to Hunter and Corrie, George Addison and Hall and Prentice, who designed subsequent extensions to the convent and chapel as the Sisters of Mercy order grew in Brisbane.
How is Adderton different to other projects you have worked on in your career—does it have any unique challenges or opportunities?
The buildings are buried within, and behind, one of the major stone walls in Brisbane. As a child, I used to take a tram into the city, and wonder what was beyond the wall. Now, I know that Adderton and the former All Hallows’ Convent has played a very important role in Brisbane’s history. It supported the Sisters’ outreach to the poor, who would share food with people at the convent’s gates. It’s very special to be a part of Adderton’s future.
We’re passionate about respecting and preserving Adderton’s heritage fabric, while at the same time creating contemporary insertions that ignite curiosity amongst visitors.
One of the project’s major challenges is drawing the public into the building. As Adderton is in the middle of a school, there are a number of safety issues involved, which we’ve had to carefully consider in our design.
What aspect of the project are you most excited about?
I’m excited about the development of the new courtyard. Our team has carved out a new space that brings the community together, while giving some focus to the building’s circulation. It will be a memorable meeting and gathering place that assists with disability access, wayfinding and supporting the community all in one.