Preston, City of Darebin
Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Country
The adaptive reuse of heritage buildings inevitably means confronting past histories and architectural ambitions that challenge how we occupy space today. It remains a fundamentally important strategy within Architecture to re-use, salvage and strategically appropriate existing conditions in a world of finite resources.
The tactic of Purge is used to negotiate the challenging intersection of past material histories that are encountered via adaptive reuse. Purge deliberately strips away colonial-era fabric of the existing architecture in order to provide agnostic spaces that are welcoming and accessible to all.
The Darebin Intercultural Centre project employed this purge tactic – negotiating the interior of the significant colonial-era civic building through a deliberate material purge of the original internal building fabric.
This reset took advantage of the lack of heritage controls of the interior, deliberately stripping away the ornate hard plaster decorations throughout the spaces. These decorative elements are reproductions of an idealised European form of nature, essentially colonial-era signs and symbols.
However, the colonial-era building is also a manifestation of people’s labour, energy, and resources and materials from Country. These buildings and spaces invariably remain an important asset for the community that shouldn’t be erased, but purged of colonial symbols to be sensitive toward the diverse user group and respectful to traditional owners.