Mandalay is an iconic Art Deco apartment building boasting an elevated beachfront location in Melbourne’s celebrated St Kilda. Perched on the Upper Esplanade directly across from the vibrant foreshore, the complex offers uninterrupted views across Port Phillip Bay.

Built in 1935, Mandalay represents an era when middleclass Melbournians embraced apartment living. The building’s architecture, decorative geometric patterns and bold colours are typical of the period’s dominant design style, Art Deco. However, by the 1990s, the complex had become neglected and was slated for demolition. Thankfully, community action saved Mandalay, which is now heritage listed.

In 2022, Programmed Property Services was engaged to provide a complete refurbishment of this Melbourne landmark. They engaged Dulux as the project’s leading paint partner due to our extensive portfolio of brands and products and our team’s expertise and respected technical advice.

The challenge

Mandalay’s external facade and internal common areas hadn’t undergone a major refurbishment since the mid-1990s. Over time, the building’s masonry had become damaged and weathered, with severe colour fading. Inside, common areas were showing significant wear and tear from a dated colour scheme. Exterior steel substrates including handrails, poles and balustrades were also flaking.

The rear apartment building, built in 1988, was designed to contrast with the original building. It was constructed using modern materials, including concrete-rendered panels and aluminium windows. Significant expertise and careful consideration were required to develop a proposed system of products to repaint the internal and external substrates as part of the refurbishment. Mandalay’s proximity to the ocean means it is subject to extreme weather, the existing coatings were in various states of disrepair, and the building would be occupied during the refurbishment. Restoring Mandalay’s heritage facade to reflect its 1930s palette and blending the original and new sections of the building were critical aspects of this project.

The solution

The Dulux Construction Solutions Property Services team worked closely with Programmed Property Services and Mandalay’s body corporate manager, Gough Partners and Associates, to develop a detailed project specification and proposed colour scheme for the refurbishment project.

Heritage-driven colour scheme

Dulux supported Programmed Property Services with colour advice and onsite samples to aim for a range of colour schemes. The objective was to restore the front facade to its original colours while providing a timeless, modern and considered palette that united the old and new sections of the complex.

Due to Mandalay’s exposed coastal position, the facade’s original colours had faded significantly, and the paint had weathered. By assessing the spectrum of each of the remaining colours, Dulux made recommendations on the most appropriate palettes to use to replicate the 1930s facade.

In consultation with Programmed Property Services, the Dulux Construction Solutions team created proposed colour schemes for the entire complex. Then, using a range of digital overlays, A4 colour Dulux brush-outs, sample pots and onsite testing, we supported the body corporate committee in making a final decision on the colours to be used.

Facade and external masonry restoration

Remediation of the heritage facade and external masonry walls required careful consideration as the substrate condition varied across the complex. Sections included oxidised render with embedded rust spots, peeling and flaking of the existing render, and bridge cracks.

In consultation with the technical specification team at Dulux, Intergrain UltraPrep Cleaner and Dulux Protective Coatings Durebild STE were specified. Intergrain UltraPrep Cleaner was applied to clean the surface and Durebild STE to treat the rust spots and act as a barrier coating to prevent the rust from reappearing. A high build protective elastomeric membrane coating of Dulux Acratex AcraSkin was then used as a topcoat. Dulux AcraSkin conforms to AS4548 Long Life Coatings for Masonry Protection; it provides long lasting protection due to its crack bridging capabilities, water resistance and anti-carbonation properties and is perfect for protection of masonry in a coastal environment.

Ensuring indoor air quality

Due to the building being occupied during the restoration project, a very low volatile organic compound (VOC) system of Dulux envirO2 was applied on the internal masonry walls. Dulux envirO2 is a low-odour, stain-resistant and washable solution that offers a durable finish.

Protecting steel substrates

Mandalay’s location is in a highly corrosive coastal environment; therefore, all external steel substrates exposed to the elements required a protective coating system. External steel handrails, balustrades, poles and gates were painted with Dulux Protective Coatings Durebild STE and Weathermax HBR to ensure longevity and maximum protection.

Project outcomes

The owners were appreciative that the building was able to be restored and in particular, preserved with colours that blend the old and new sections of the building as well as complement the brickwork.

“We’re really proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish with the painting restoration at Mandalay, St Kilda. Working with Dulux on the specification ensured the correct application and methodology appropriate to both heritage listed and modern apartment blocks on site. Collaboration and teamwork has led to a fantastic outcome for this iconic Melbourne property,” commented Jack Biggs, Senior Business Development Manager, Programmed Property Services.

Project details

Project: Mandalay

Location: 18-20 The Esplanade St Kilda, VIC

Painting Contractor: Programmed Property Services

Body Corporate Manager: Gough & Associates

Project Works: Full Exterior Repaint/Internal Stairwells of the Mandalay Apartment Building

Products Specified

Dulux Acratex

  • Dulux Protective Coatings Luxaprime UMP Primer
  • Dulux Acratex AcraSkin Low Gloss
  • Dulux Acratex AcraPrime Solvent Based Clear

Dulux Protective Coatings

  • Dulux Protective Coatings Durebild STE - PC237 Two Pack Epoxy
  • Dulux Protective Coatings Weathermax HBR Two Pack Gloss
  • Dulux Protective Coatings Luxaprime Zinc Phosphate Primer
  • Dulux Protective Coatings Metalshield Prem UV Resistant Enamel Topcoat Gloss


  • Dulux Precision Maximum Strength Adhesion Primer
  • Dulux Aquanamel Semi Gloss
  • Dulux Precision High Opacity Stain Blocker
  • Dulux Weathershield Semi Gloss
  • Dulux 1 Step Oil Primer Sealer Undercoat
  • Dulux Aquanamel Gloss
  • Dulux Professional Total Prep
  • Dulux envirO2 Interior Low Sheen

At Dulux, we leverage our deep expertise to support architects, interior designers, builders and engineers to design and build with confidence.

Photo credit: Bonnie Savage Photography