RBA Architects on their latest project Prahran Arcade Façade Conservation

RBA Architect’s Roger Beeston, Deirdre Heffernan and Meher Bahl, along with Abode Restoration’s Thomas Madden recently gave a talk as a part of Open House Melbourne 2022 on their recently completed project Prahran Arcade.

Prahran Arcade opened in August 1890 and has since been known for its grand frontage. Originally, its ground level was accessed via both Chapel and Arcade streets (now Little Chapel Street), and consisted of 29 shops, including a tailor, café, watchmaker, florist, confectioner, fruit shop, frame maker, oyster saloon and dressmaker. In the following 130 years it has also been home to artists, wine stores, and more recently to Dan Murphy’s and JB Hi-Fi. Substantial conservation works have been carried out to the façade of the building. The façade has been cleaned and the many layers of later paint finishes removed. Render repairs across the façade include decorative elements such as the column capitals, fleur-de-lis and the distinctive pair of eagles perched at second floor level.

Conservation works were also carried out to cast iron down pipes, decorative metalwork friezes and the elaborate cast iron columns. The various parts of the façade have been refinished following retrieval and laboratory analysis of samples to establish the original decorative schemes. Where possible remnant historic signage has also been conserved. These works have reinstated the original, highly elaborate appearance of the Chapel Street frontage of the Prahran Arcade, having a positive impact on the broader Victorian and Federation period character of the Chapel Street Precinct and the streetscape in general.