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St Patrick's Cathedral Bunbury

Completed 2008

St Patrick’s Cathedral in Bunbury, designed by Richard Dennehy and opened in 1921 was damaged beyond repair by a tornado in 2005. Extensive damage was also caused to other buildings on the site including the presbytery, also believed to be designed by Dennehy. The damage to the presbytery was dwarfed in 2008 by fire damage from an arson attack. As well as helping build a new Cathedral three times larger in floor area, insurance funds enabled the burnt out shell of the 1918 Federation Queen Anne Style Presbytery, and it’s 1951 extensions to be re-constructed prior to their adaptive re-use and the addition of a new two storey hall and office wing. A new three storey mixed use residential and office building for Parish use, located at the south of the site was designed to "book end" the cathedral, and completed the cathedral campus.


The elevated and steeply sloping site was retained around its perimeter, loosely modelling an Italian hill town, increased the site area and reinforcing its commanding setting. Preserving the heritage values of the place were a major concern. It played a determining role in the design of the new buildings, and in the handling of the existing. As well as the reconstruction of the Presbytery to its original state, artifacts, furniture and photographs were reused to reinforce the heritage interpretation of the site. After the loss of the 1921 Cathedral the visual heritage of the site was hanging by a thread and could easily have been lost had the burnt out shell of the Presbytery been demolished as was considered. The context established by the conservation and reconstruction of the 1918 and 1951 presbytery buildings provided a strong anchor point for the new buildings.

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