The Aberdeen Hotel in Fitzroy has had a facelift, transformed from a neglected corner pub into a modern complex containing ten deluxe apartments.

The development has restored the hotel’s ornate Victorian facade and added five, two storey townhouses on the adjoining property.

For architects Millar Watson the challenge was to synthesise the old with the new, building a complex that blends the modern with a hotel built around 1910. Millar Watson used Shadowclad Texture by Carter Holt Harvey on the two storey townhouses, giving them their distinctive appearance.

The Aberdeen Hotel pub has existed in many incarnations, including the Loaded Dog and the Sports Bar. Millar Watson gutted the interior of the building, including the pub. Because of its grandeur, they decided to restore the impressive staircase in the middle of the hotel.

The external fittings have also been painstakingly restored including the wrought iron terraces and the tiled verandahs. There are five luxury apartments inside the Aberdeen, including a retail space where the public bar once was.

The extension of the Aberdeen proved to be an architectural challenge. “We had the brief to build five apartments next to the Aberdeen,” says architect Colin Watson.

“We wanted something modern that enhanced the existing structure. What we have done is maintain the old parapet. But we have punched large holes into it. You can now see aspects of the townhouses that have gone up behind it, from the street. People seem to be really curious about what’s behind the old brick parapet from the street front. Poking out from behind it, are these curious looking townhouses.”

Millar Watson used Shadowclad Texture to create the wall on the first floor of the townhouses. It is the distinguishing feature of the structure.

Shadowclad Texture has a solid rough sawn face. Designed for exterior use with high quality paint systems, it accommodates a range of distinctive architectural styles. Shadowclad can be used as cladding and bracing and is easy to install.

“I think the Shadowclad Texture has really given the townhouse its identity,” says Watson.
“People look at the townhouses and find it creates an interesting effect. What we have done is stain the plywood a dark brown colour. We have also covered the joints with battens, creating a boxlike effect across the exterior wall. It looks a lot like a Japanese screen. It is visible through the large holes in the parapet. All in all, we have created something unique.”

According to Watson, the Shadowclad Texture was an extremely economical product. “The aesthetics were very important to us, but it was also the fact that the Shadowclad Texture was light, easy to use and economical. We got what we wanted on all fronts.”