The Abbotsford Convent is a relatively unplanned campus of buildings that has evolved over a century. Now undergoing staged redevelopment, the site struggles with accessibility and circulation. JCB was engaged to design a modest architectural intervention to improve site movement. The resulting breezeway intervention is imagined as a portal or ‘wormhole’, connecting two sides of the Convent.

The wormhole carefully negotiates its way through existing openings while minimising disruption to the existing building. Respecting the site’s complex historical layers, the design response deliberately contrasts new and existing fabric, consistent with heritage best practice.

In negotiating existing openings, the breezeway expands and contracts in size, creating a false sense of perspective that draws people through the installation. Walls, ceiling and floors were left unrenovated, with minimum demolition, while the spotted gum timber battens follow the rhythm of the structural steel portals.

This understated approach is an easy fit with the well-worn interiors of the existing fabric.


AIA Victorian Architecture Awards: Small Project Architecture Award

AIA National Architecture Awards: Small Project Architecture Commendation

Project Status:




Gross Floor Area:

120 sqm


Abbotsford Convent Foundation


Kevin Collecutt

General Contractor:

Alford Builders


Jaime Diaz-Berrio