Mardo Constructions have converted a heritage listed electrical substation into two big town houses at North Ryde in Sydney. The renovation has also included the addition of three new modern townhouses on the 1500 square metre site.

Known as “The electricity substation that never was” the original structure was built in 1916 to supply the Ryde area with electricity. Due to the First World War and lack of funding it remained empty.

After the war ended underground cables had been laid supplying the electricity required for the area. So the substation was never used for its original purpose and over the years fell into disrepair.

Once plans were approved, the local council requested that brickwork for the new townhouses match the original structures as closely as possible. Mardo Constructions have selected Austral Bricks’ Bowral Murray Grey bricks, as they carried through the dark brick tones in the original brickwork well.

The substation sits at the front of the site (with full electrical substation signage still intact) with the addition of three well-designed town houses by architect Hugh Slatyer at the rear, all blending sympathetically in colour and tone to the original substation.

According to Dorothy Goncalves, Director Mardo Constructions, the project is a classic example of using modern day bricks to blend with the old in construction.

“Historical buildings and a site of this size, so close to the CBD and having such a history, are quite rare. Usually they have not had much tender loving care over the years and prove to be quite a challenge.

“With the solidarity of bricks together with the colour and texture of Murray Grey’s we think this was a great choice to complement a heritage building.

“This brick selection helped us to achieve a contemporary usage in the new buildings while adding an exciting blending element to the original structure. We think this is a great way to preserve heritage buildings, using bricks, while creating contemporary usage.”

Dorothy Goncalves added, “We also added an interesting treatment so that the brickwork did not appear “heavy” by extending one brick, recessing one brick and extending a third brick from the overall line of the brick, walls.”

“The two extended bricks were painted in a heritage cream to match the windows and doors of the substation and the recessed middle brick was painted a charcoal grey to match the aluminium windows and doors of the new townhouses.

“This feature created an interesting visual texture while linking up by colour the existing substation buildings and creating a total banding and relief to the solidarity and colour of the Murray Grey brick walls.”

The North Ryde site was fittingly named “Electra”. It has been preserved for future generations to enjoy by combining the history of the past with modern elements.

Austral Bricks have display centres at Horsley Park, Bowral, Albion Park, Punchbowl, Fyshwick ACT, Newcastle, Tuggerah and Port Macquarie.