Doherty House | RBA Architects and Conservation Consultants

Doherty House | RBA Architects and Conservation Consultants | Photographer: Thurston Empson

2023 National Architecture Awards Program

Doherty House | RBA Architects and Conservation Consultants

Traditional Land Owners


The Dimity Reed Melbourne Prize (VIC)
Abode Restoration
Roger Beeston
Thurston Empson
Project summary

Doherty House, located in what is now suburban western Melbourne, is one of only a few remaining tangible connections to the area’s early colonial inhabitation. Constructed in the 1870s and devastated by fire in 1969, the house had been overwhelmed by vegetation and was in danger of collapse.

The required conservation works were approached holistically. Short term, the building has been stabalised and elevated to a landmark interpretive link to the area’s history. Longer term, the works allow future adaptive re-use of the structure with local stakeholders, including Council.

The approach to the conservation of Doherty House combined traditional and digital techniques, allowing a detailed investigation and understanding of the decay mechanisms to guide the successful and innovative conservation techniques used. This maximised the retention of heritage fabric, and consequently its cultural heritage value, providing a striking interpretive feature in this otherwise standard suburban development.

Victorian Architecture Awards Accolades
Commendation for Heritage
Shortlist – Heritage
Victorian Jury Citation

The restoration of Doherty House in Tarneit is a significant achievement in Victoria’s heritage preservation. The remnant fabric was perilous, destroyed by fire in 1969, rubble walls rotating outwards, and missing lintels readied for catastrophic collapse. An exhaustive analysis of the ruins enabled vegetation removal and repair work.

The approach combined traditional and digital conservation techniques. The result maximised fabric retention, cultural heritage value, and set the stage for potential adaptive re-use, providing a striking interpretive feature in an otherwise unimpressive suburban development.

Victorian Jury Presentation

At the start of this project, Doherty House was an extremely unstable bluestone ruin. RBA readily took on the parallel challenges of making it safe, and preserving the heritage qualities of the structure. Working collaboratively with the project team to incorporate radical yet unintrusive solutions, this humble building has been transformed, allowing it to be developed into a valuable community space that will come to be an active part of the lives of our residents in the near future.

Project Practice Team

Jeremy de Vos, Project Architect
Lachlan McMullin, Graduate of Architecture
Margaret Nicoll, Conservation Technician
Meher Bahl, Graduate of Architecture
Roger Beeston, Design Architect

Project Consultant and Construction Team

Breese Pitt Dixon Pty Ltd, Land Surveyor
OC Stone, Initial stone investigation
Stone Initiatives, Material testing
Tecraft Projects, Structural Engineer

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Doherty House | RBA Architects and Conservation Consultants | Photographer: Thurston Empson

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