Across our Asia Pacific studios we have an exceptional collaborative ethos which has enabled us to adapt to the challenges that 2020 has provided. A testament to our team’s continued hard work and resilience is the range of opportunities and successes this past year has brought us, which warrant great celebration. We are extremely fortunate to have an excellent client base who have been actively willing to continue work during this difficult time, and it is because of their optimism, and trust in our team’s skills and expertise, that the successful planning and delivery of projects has gone ahead.
This year, many of our colleagues worked to promote architecture and heritage by participating in leading architectural awards and events across Hong Kong and Australia. Associate Lucy Burke-Smith was appointed Jury Chair of the Australian Institute of Architecture (Tasmanian Chapter) Awards, which recognises excellence in the field of architecture. In September, Regional Partner, Tracey Skovronek and Associate Steve Phillips (virtually) came together to discuss Purcell project, Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage and Arts at the Australian Institute of Architects as part of their digital ‘Lean In Sessions’. The sessions aim to bring our community together, to share experience in what is the most complex and challenging of times. Senior Architectural Conservationist, Jack Chui appeared on Hong Kong TV Viu99 in July to discuss our recent HKICON Revitalization Award for Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage & Arts, which was received for our restoration work on this cultural landmark in the heart of Hong Kong.
Despite obvious obstacles, 2020 has been an excellent year for a multitude of work across various sectors. Although a number of our projects we are restricted to discuss, in respect for our client’s privacy, here we highlight 2020’s milestones which showcase the diverse breadth of projects our practice is privileged to work on. We’ve seen great resilience in the sectors we work in, leading to a repeat clientele and collaborations, and we continue to build on our international best practice conservation and heritage consultancy, which stems from the knowledge of our key personnel and wide-ranging experience.
This year, our Hong Kong studio continued working with The Hong Kong Jockey Club on the revitalisation of the Former Central Police Station Compound, a project which ran from 2008 - 2018. Since the project’s completion, and launch as Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage and the Arts, we are delighted to have continued to support our client in the ongoing care and maintenance of this iconic compound and its 16 historic buildings.
Throughout the year we have also continued our work on the Hong Kong Government-funded FAS Maintenance Scheme projects which cover a diverse portfolio of buildings — from clubs, to museums and churches. The Maintenance Scheme aims to preserve and carry out vital maintenance on historically significant buildings across the city. It has been an excellent opportunity to broaden our reach and we’re pleased that a number of projects under the scheme have been approved for funding and will start on site next year.
In 2021 we are looking forward to continuing to work on the State Theatre revitalisation, in Hong Kong, by New World Development. Our initial work in 2020 included undertaking a range of enabling work activities including the preparation of condition surveys and providing heritage advice on the emerging design proposals. In collaboration with WilkinsonEyre, we are in the early stages of a major renovation programme that includes the re-development of a whole city block to create a new cultural hub, with the renovated State Theatre at its heart. This is an important prospect which will require the team to utilise our specialist knowledge of 20th-century buildings and understanding of modern concrete conservation in order to help safeguard Hong Kong’s Post-War architectural heritage
As Hong Kong enters its fourth wave of COVID-19 restrictions, the studio’s resilience is buoyed by our highly committed existing clients across our core offer. Landing a few surprising commissions across 2020, and reflecting the team’s ability to diversify, we are really excited to work on several intriguing projects to be delivered across 2021.
In Australia, our team have completed a range of exciting heritage projects this year. In collaboration with Betteridge Heritage, and International Conservation Services, we completed a Conservation and Landscape Management Plan (CLMP) on behalf of the National Trust of NSW for Saumarez Homestead. The homestead comprises a 30 room Edwardian mansion, gardens, and agricultural buildings. The CLMP identifies the significance of the built and landscape features of the place and its collections, advising management actions to inform the development of proposals for sensitive and compatible change.
In Hobart we are delighted that our Conservation Management Plan for the Treasury Complex and Public Buildings won the Planning Institute Australia (Tasmania), Best Planning Ideas: Small Project award. Centrally located within the City of Hobart, the Treasury Complex is a prominent collection of civic buildings which have been the centre of Tasmania’s judicial, political, and administrative life since 1824. Working together with ERA Planning, we delivered a CMP that intends to ensure the long-term conservation of this important public asset can be secured into the future.
2020 has been highlighted by projects which have both enhanced existing collaborations and new relationships. The calibre of projects has been rewarding, as well as being an opportunity to showcase the depth of Purcell’s skills and services.
In Melbourne, we have recently been appointed by St Michael’s Uniting Church to support the future management of the place. Deliverables include a comprehensive condition survey and costed maintenance plan. This will be followed by the preparation of a CMP for this historically significant church. This project will build on our expertise of places of worship internationally as well as our team’s core skills in the total asset management of heritage buildings. Our team have been working with the Uniting Church in Australia and their congregations across a number of places to support the delivery of successful Living Heritage Grant applications as well as sensitive internal reordering and external conservation works.
In Adelaide, we’ve been delighted to work as Heritage Consultant collaborating with Baukultur (on behalf of HASSELL) on the Lot 14 BICE building refurbishment. Although working remotely from Melbourne has its challenges, it is our adaptability, a long-established mode of operation at Purcell, which has enabled our flexibility to provide ongoing heritage advice to support the design and construction teams.
The Melbourne studio successfully transitioned to enforced remote working and in so doing, demonstrated their resilience and agility to maintain continuity on projects and embark upon new collaborations and commissions through 2020. As 2021 approaches, it is refreshing to visit and see projects progress on site, based on decisions made remotely.
Looking ahead into the new year in Australia, we’re delighted to have been appointed by the Commonwealth for further work at Kingston and Arthur’s Vale Historic Area (KAVHA), to inform future management of Government House. Similarly, with the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, we will continue to support our client in the building’s façade restoration project.
As an international practice working across Asia Pacific and the UK, we continue to learn and grow from the diversity of our projects. The successes and challenges of 2020 have resulted in some excellent opportunities for the new year. We look forward to becoming an employee-owned practice, a model which reflects our long-established ethos. It is the excellent communication, and teamwork across Purcell, that enables the quality of service we provide, and we look forward to the opportunities in the region that await us in the coming year.