Wilson Architects’ Sarah Mahon has over a decade of experience working on community and public space projects locally, inter-state and internationally. Today, Sarah kindly shares her thoughts on the Adderton: house & heart of mercy project.
What is your favourite thing about the Adderton building and the redevelopment project?
My favourite part of this project is actually the part yet to be seen! The re-engagement of the courtyard as a landscape installation into a tranquil haven. Our design creates an outdoor room that explores the history of spiritual gardens. It will be a shaded, cool, gathering space for occupation, contemplation and reflection.
It’s going to be a very special place that will allow us to create a whole new chapter in the building’s history. And yet it’s been the Sisters’ stories that have informed the design direction. The space within, and the adjoining spaces in the House of Mercy, will completely transform what is currently an unoccupied and tired space. I can’t wait to sit in that space and see it enlivened with new growth and sounds of visitors.
How is Adderton different to other projects you have worked on in your career—does it have any unique challenges or opportunities?
The Adderton project is a very unique and personal one. Every aspect of the building that we study and consider brings to life another story of the Sisters and their legacy. The project, the building, the client and the artistic team are all truly passionate about the experience we’ll be providing for visitors to the site. We have been working well together to create a masterplan that engages the Almonry on Ann Street, creating an artistic journey through the landscape to the old convent, and through the buildings.
There are plenty of challenges in bringing a historical building back to life, but the beauty with this project is that each challenge tends to reveal a story from the catalogue of the Sisters’ experiences.
Adderton has always been a space of women’s stories and achievements—how does that legacy relate to your own work?
It’s a privilege to be working amongst such strong, determined and charitable women.
It’s inspiring to know that the work we’re doing is not just an interpretation, but a continuation of the Sisters’ legacy. Working on a building that is opening up its doors to the arts community and the public is a rare opportunity. As architects, we see a lot of projects for the private domain on completion, and then aren’t able to return. Best of all, I will be able to bring my daughters, family and friends to the exhibitions and experience the public’s reaction first hand. That makes this project very special.