Dan Murphy’s recent return to the Prahran Arcade at 282 Chapel Street involved a strong conservation effort in the fit-out of their new flag ship store.

RBA worked closely with the design team to develop a sympathetic scheme which has reinvigorated part of the arcade, including the basement, and revealed key original features both internally and externally. Typical of many retail fit-outs, it was undertaken at a rapid pace, and RBA were involved throughout the project to provide expert advice on the details and oversee the effecting of Heritage Victoria’s permit conditions.


Internally, paint layers were partly removed revealing fragments of earlier colour schemes and the original brickwork. Sections of the original vaulted Traegerwellerblech ceiling of corrugated steel sheeting (a fireproofing system employed in Australia primarily during the 1880s and 1890s) have been retained, and the timber joists and cross-bracing remain exposed. All the new shelving and services, including the HVAC and lighting, were sympathetically introduced.

Externally, hoarding was removed at ground level to reveal the original masonry wall, which features several early painted signs for businesses in the arcade. For the new store, a sympathetic recessed shop front was introduced. The canopy roof cladding was also removed (originally there had been no canopy) restoring broad views of the elaborate detailing of the wall including the cornice which has modillion brackets and a Doric Order frieze with alternating triglyphs and metopes enriched with fleur-de-lys motifs. Traces of some of the other mouldings survive including the pediment above the keystone and capital-like sections to the piers.


Interestingly, most of the original prismatic pavement lights survive to Chapel Street providing borrowed, natural light to the basement. These pavement lights were manufactured by Hayward Brothers (labelled ‘Hayward Brothers Patent, Collins Street Melbourne’) and may be relatively early surviving examples of their usage.

The grand Victorian era Prahran Arcade opened its doors in 1890, and initially had 29 shops in the central arcade, a three storey section with Turkish baths and a hotel to the upper levels, as well as a bakery and icemakers in the basement. Dan Murphy’s long association with the Prahran Arcade began in 1952 and spanned roughly 50 years – initially the wine merchants occupied the basement of the arcade, later leasing the entire building and renaming it the ‘Gallery’ with areas let to other businesses and occupants.

Image Sources
Top: Courtesy of Dan Murphy’s
Bottom: RBA Architects + Conservation Consultants

27 October 2016

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