Nathan Porter’s thesis at university researched contemporary buildings in heritage cities.
It’s fitting for the Ballarat born and bred architect, who returned to his home town five years ago, after spending most of his 20s in Melbourne and abroad.
Mr Porter first made the move to Melbourne at 24, where he studied architecture at Deakin University in Geelong before working with architecture firms in the Melbourne and meeting his partner.
He was 32-years-old when he returned to Ballarat, with a desire to set up a family home and his own business.
Since, he has had two children and set up his firm Porter Architects, which has worked on the redevelopment of the Western Hotel, the refit of the Golden City Hotel, new houses, and contemporary extensions to heritage properties.
Mr Porter has a vision to design buildings for today which will be ‘tomorrow’s heritage’.
There’s a fine art in balancing contemporary architecture and heritage buildings.Nathan Porter, Porter Architects
“There is absolutely a place to for contemporary architecture in heritage places, provided you have a strategy in dealing with heritage buildings and you reference scale, proportions and materials,” he said.
“There’s a few strategies in delineating the old and the new, whether it is through separation of materials, or the introduction of courtyard spaces, also treating the old as the old and finding things to reference from the old but doing it in a contemporary way.
“It is not about doing old, it is about doing new buildings that are going to be tomorrow’s heritage. They are done for today’s life but also are going to be timeless and last a long time.”
During his return to Ballarat and looking with a new perspective, he has seen the city progress with the activation of laneways and spaces around Lydiard Street and the arts precinct.
But he said he hoped to see the activation of “dead spaces” east of Grenville Street around Bridge Mall.
“You have got the Yarowee River running underneath Grenville Street and to me that sounds like an absolute wasted opportunity where we could have an inner city waterway, potentially even parkland, around Bridge Mall,” he said.
“It seems like it could be a really wonderful transition between west Ballarat and east Ballarat. The Bridge Mall is an area which needs a lot of love, but I think if you activated Big W car park and the Coles car park you would naturally get activation for the Bridge Mall.
“It could be really amazing if they got it right.”
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