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2015 National Architecture Awards: Heritage

The Abbey, Johnston Street, Annandale by Design 5 – Architects Heritage: National Award Australian Institute of Architects

Jury citation

The jury found The Abbey in Annandale, Sydney to be an extraordinary achievement of restoration and sympathetic addition. This project has brought back to life one of Australia’s most idiosyncratic late-nineteenth-century houses, the former home of eccentric Sydney architect-builder John Young. The house also had a colourful recent past as home for more than forty years to Dr Geoffrey Davis, member of the Sydney bohemian movement The Push, and hence it was the dramatic location for legendary wild parties in the 1960s and 1970s. The lavish and romantic Victorian Free Gothic style house, completed in 1882, includes a tower with gargoyles, a conservatory/ chapel, servants’ quarters and stables. The elaborate medieval- inspired internal decorative scheme, which includes stencil work, extensive and elaborate use of Minton tiles, handpainted panels of medieval stories and of indigenous Australian birdlife, and original Gothic-inspired built-in furniture, is a marvel to behold. Its restoration is of national significance. This project is an exemplar of the way in which heritage, technical and construction experts can collaborate to conserve a significant local landmark. The Abbey is also a testament to the clients’ dedication and commitment to preserving the past. As required, all additions and alterations were sensitive and sympathetic, taking design cues from the original residence. Complemented by the clients’ subsequent development and nurturing of a beautiful garden, The Abbey has been transformed from a dilapidated ruin to a gorgeous contemporary family home.


Design 5 - Architects
Sydney, NSW, Australia
Project Team
Robert Gasparini, Letizia Coppo-Jones, Lian Wong (project architects); Alan Croker (principal)
Conservation of early interior paint finishes A & C Inhof
Construction team A & DR Illes (stage one builder); Aranac (stage two and three builder); Combined Roofing Solutions (specialist roofer); Dasreef, Jinhua Dong (stonemasons); Ian Thomson, Wayne Mavin & Co, Aranac (specialist joiners); Notley Engineering Services,, EF Service, Steel Design (metalworkers); Heritage Decorative Glass (metalwork and stained glass); Gino Vinciguerra (specialist tiler)
Historical research Urbis, Design 5 - Architects
Interior colours and furnishings Design 5 - Architects, Karen Akers
Landscape consultant Dangar Group
Site details
Category Commercial / public buildings
Type Heritage
Project Details
Status Built



Published online: 5 Nov 2015
Words: National Architecture Awards Jury 2015
Images: Images for Business


Architecture Australia, November 2015

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