Doctored Heritage

Doctored Heritage


Step back to the 70s — the 1870s — with this incredible hospital conversion

Located in Kew, the former Wilsmere Hospital has been around since 1870 and was lovingly converted into a four-storey apartment. The focus was on developing an environment suitable for both professional life and family living, so it was vital the key elements of the interior fit-out were sympathetic to the existing design of the building.

“In the current context where work and living relationships are evolving this project is a reinterpretation of the conventional boundary between a domestic residence and office,” explains Heribert Alucha. The key aim behind the design was to ensure a harmonious balance between the two areas without having to resort to having independent zones.

The property having suffered renovations in 1993, it was imperative these changes be reversed and the true elegance of the building reinstated. One of the design considerations was space — as the building used to be a hospital there were many areas with little natural light. Air flow needed to be addressed and a feeling of openness created.

“This project does not use a predetermined style,” says Alucha. “We have tried to express clarity and meaning through the use of honest materials and techniques. The majority of the alterations have been removed to restore the original Victorian proportions.”

A diligent and hard-working team has been rewarded with a final result that retains the integrity of this historic structure.

Alucha has reused the existing space with no structural transformations required. Contained to strategic locations, the new work is in keeping with the traditional style and provides a durable design. Materials have been kept as natural as possible with ceramic tiles, plywood from plantation and natural-fibre carpet made from goat hair.

Reflecting a minimalist approach, the interior is fresh and light allowing each area to take advantage of every last ray of sunshine that enters. Stately archways stretch across the entrance to each room while still allowing a feeling of space. A series of joining areas, the apartment has been given new life through the use of clean lines and understated finishes.

The hub of the home, the kitchen, has received a serene ambience with modern elements such as the high-end appliances incorporated into the design. A large island bench in Stark White CaesarStone is a focal point and successfully separates the cooking and preparation zone from the casual seating. The kitchen’s location within the apartment provides an open and proportioned living area.

In keeping with the historical décor of the soft hues and grand detailing, a beautiful fireplace has been restored and provides a wonderful spot to gather on a cold winter’s night.

With some of today’s best bathroom designs suited to a traditional style home, this room is no exception. Subtle shades come together providing a fabulous backdrop to the premium quality fixtures. An unobtrusive vanity and toilet suite from Villeroy & Boch is a fine choice and the tapware and accessories have been selected from Reece Design for that extra finishing touch.

“Careful detailing accentuates the contrast between the old and the new,” adds Alucha. “The majority of the heritage features have been painted white or left untouched to provide a background for the new subtle insertions.” An outstanding renovation, this apartment complex features the best of the past and finest of the present.

The project was designed by
Britta Klingspohn and Heribert Alucha of Open Studio Pty Ltd Architecture, 7d, 635 St Kilda Road Melbourne, Vic
Phone: 0421 962 586,
Email: or
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The project was built by Peter Bone
Phone: 0412 883 692

Kitchen, bathroom: porcelain floor tiles
Dining, living, bedroom, stair: Tretford heavy contract cord carpet from Gibbon Group 07 3881 1777


Bathrooms: Ezarry mosaic tiles from Erneste Tile Concepts 03 9359 0099


Benchtop, splaashback: reconstituted polished stone

Main: pendant from Satelight Design, tubular lighting system from Austube Pty Ltd

Vanities, toilets: Villeroy & Boch
Tapware: Scope by Reece Design

“Careful detailing accentuates the contrast between the old and the new. The majority of the heritage features have been painted white or left untouched to provide a background for the new subtle insertions”