Steeped in History – Alfred Stables by Architects EAT

Words by Rose Onans
Architecture by Architects EAT
Photography by Shannon McGrath
Heritage Consultant RBA Architects
Engineering FMG Engineering

150 years ago, the red brick building set on a quiet lane behind Melbourne’s Alfred Hospital was a horse stable. More recently, it was a storage facility for the hospital maintenance department. Now, it has been reinvented by Architects EAT as the Alfred’s executive offices; a transformative example of adaptive re-use that is steeped in history, while performing and supporting all the requirements of a modern workplace for 150 staff.

Celebrating the stable’s original use and existing materials, Architects EAT proposed an industrial aesthetic. Exposed trusses and ductwork overhead lay bare the inner workings of the building, while paint has been stripped back to reveal the existing brick and lime-washed bluestone wall. As layers of paint were removed, historical swatches of colour became visible; these colours then informed decisions about the interior material palette.

Steel mesh and glass elements have been inserted throughout the three floors to allow for both functional separation and visual transparency, while precise structural incisions were made to create vertical circulation and entry to each floor. The result is an open and connected workplace – one where collaboration and interaction with colleagues is prioritised and an appreciation for history is never very far away.