Architecture and Interiors

Blue Magnolia

Blue Magnolia

As so often happens with heritage buildings, additions are made that mask, rather than celebrate, the beauty and purpose of the original structure. Blue Magnolia is a rare example of an 1840s row house building on an internal lot in urban Hobart that caught the artistic eyes of our client and piqued their interest.

To create a spectacular extension with ‘wow’ factor, we embraced the dual tactics of conservation and restoration. Stripping back the unsympathetic 1980’s structures revealed an opportunity to enhance the original 1840’s building with modern amenities. Hints of the previous layout can be found in subtle and not-so subtle ways, from the plywood lining that marks passages through thick stone walls, to the void and visible upper floor patching that takes the place of the two original stairwells.

By pairing back Blue Magnolia’s history of alterations, one can connect the old with the new. This is most visible via a series of skylights that introduce more natural light and are a nod to the surrounding urban setting. Existing now as a series of simple, dark coloured rectangular forms with a curious internal stone patchwork feature, Blue Magnolia is visually subservient to its original design but in a way that supports its contemporary use.

Project start: 2013

Completion: 2018

Gross floor area: 36m2

Architect: Rosa Douramanis at Biotope Architecture and Interiors

Photographer: Peter Mathew


The site depicted in this image conveys the context of the heritage urban setting. The spirit of the heritage urban setting drove the concept for the new addition, becoming subservient to the surroundings and harmonising with the heritage context.
The character and texture of the rubble stone used to construct the retaining wall, and the 1840's Row house inspired the removal of the outer render to reveal the stone internally, thus becoming a key design feature.
The retention of the historic 1840's Row house enriched the design solutions. The new extension needed to resonate with the existing 1840's Row house, and therefore the 1970s additions were removed.
Evidence of the existing loft stair.