Bishopscourt has been until recently the home of the Anglican Bishop of Hobart for over 100 years. The early part of the main house was designed by Henry Hunter, and the massive Federation extension is by George Fagg.
Included as part of the Fagg designed works was a separate brick schoolhouse near the rear entry. It was the beginning of Collegiate School, and one of its earliest pupils was ‘Monty’, Field Marshall Montgomery, of El-Alamein fame, who lived in the house.
The property now belongs to Dermot and Rebecca Crean, and it is now their family home, and needless to say, there is a significant amount of the grand civic homestead that was surplus to their personal needs, and the decision was made to convert the parts of the house which have a separate access into self contained tourist apartments. This meant three new units, one created inside the old house, a second unit which incorporated the schoolhouse, and a third self contained unit at the very rear portion of the site, abutting the boundary hedge which defines the property from the corner of Regent St and Fitzroy Place.
The basic design question was how to create a very large extension that did not visually overwhelm the old schoolhouse, as well as creating stylish accommodation that was completely private and visually separate from the family’s adjacent garden area. In addition, the schoolhouse was one of the more personal spaces which could be seen to be reminiscent of Monty, as it was here that he was taught as a child.
The new accommodation units have been designed to be two courtyard dwellings, hidden behind a vertical wooden fence that acts to create an enclosure to the family garden to the north. The larger and higher of the two units backs onto an existing boundary hedge, which also determined the overall maximum height, as it was important that the new units were virtually invisible from the street.
All the new buildings are clad in vertical Western Red Cedar T&G boards, which have been sealed by lightly charring the timber, a traditional Japanese process. This makes the new buildings recede into the background as much as is possible, leaving the historic schoolhouse as the dominant building. The burnt charring is also abstractly emblematic of Monty’s famous battles.
The roofs of the two units are a series of diagonal flattened hips and valleys, running at different angles to the rectilinear plan forms, thus animating the raking ceilings of the different interior volumes so created.