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Highgate Hill, Queensland

Current Status: Completed 2013

Nominated: Governor’s Heritage Award – NATIONAL TRUST of QUEENSLAND HERITAGE AWARDS 2014


The project involved the conversion and refurbishment of an abandoned convent building into a residence. Formerly constructed in 1868 as a stately Victorian residence, ‘Toonarbin’ has endured significant modifications throughout its history. In the 1920s a verandah and front brick facade were added to the house to convert it into a convent. 

In 2009, MWA was approached by the owners to assist with the restoration as it had fallen into disrepair. The goal was to embody its original character and form as a stately residence while updating services and facilities to reflect the demands of contemporary life.

Our services involved close coordination with heritage architect and consent authorities to secure approvals for the modifications. A key aspect was the design of vehicle access and parking strategies as this is one of the larger items at odds with the pre-existing use and form of the building.

The strategy involved careful modification of the existing front boundary wall to incorporate a semi-circular drive and reception court within the front setback.  At the rear of the building, a garage was added, with its rooftop forming an entertaining terrace accessible from the lower living level.

Internally the reconfiguration strategy aims to restore the formal Victorian core of the building to its original glory while utilising the perimeter space enclosed by the 1920’s verandah addition for the provision of services, bathrooms, kitchen and informal living & sitting spaces. 



“ You provided the kind of professional assistance we needed: an enthusiastic, encouraging and efficient architect who listens. “


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