Yorkshire Brewery open for all to see

The rebirth of Collingwood's Yorkshire Brewery is complete with the local landmark now standing resplendently as a residential apartment complex. Located at 1-21 Robert Street Collingwood, the redevelopment includes townhouses, 338 apartments over multiple new buildings and retail spaces at ground level.

The foundation stone for the retained heritage elements onsite was laid during 1876, with the brick tower the site's most intriguing feature. Over time Yorkshire Brewery has hosted both brewing and cooperage activities, although in recent decades the complex has remained largely abandoned save for the odd squatter.

SMA Projects, architect Hayball and contractor Icon formed the core of the project development team, undertaking the task of bringing the landmark back to life over an 18 month build period and along the way seeking a 5 Green Star energy rating.

Prior to the development parties such as the Collingwood Historical Society were requesting a "Development that will respect and enhance its heritage significance." How the existing fabric of the historic onsite buildings is interwoven with the new builds is a subjective matter, nonetheless the amount of public space available within the development is altogether impressive.

Inside the newly finished complex

Hayball describe the project as follows:

A contemporary new residential neighbourhood, anchored by the restoration and adaptive re-use of the heritage-listed former Yorkshire Brewery

Located in close proximity to the CBD, parklands and myriad dining and entertainment options, 1-21 Robert Street is a strategic new neighbourhood-oriented development in Collingwood. At the core of the project is the sensitive restoration and adaptive reuse of the former Yorkshire Brewery, coupled with exceptional design quality, residential amenity and public open space.

By reducing site coverage and providing higher built form away from the heritage fabric, a vibrant heritage precinct can accommodate ground-level retail, a 480sqm neighbourhood Square at the base of the brew tower and provision for heritage interpretation.

As well as offering environmental sustainability, diversity and affordability, the development will provide greater amenity and access to the site for residents, neighbours and the general public.

Hayball: Yorkshire Brewery Apartments

Most interesting is the placement of multiple visual markers throughout the site which provide a historic snapshot and visual accompaniment to the site's varied past. This is a unique touch among contemporary Melbourne apartment developments and is aimed at visitors moving through the site, as is the Melbourne Bike Share station located within the development.

Much like Brunswick's Tip Top development which was completed during 2014, Yorkshire Brewery doesn't hold absolute frontage to a prime street and consequently won't have waves of pedestrian traffic passing through. Nonetheless a very pleasant outcome has been created with strong ground level permeability throughout the site.

Should the light commercial sites immediately south of Yorkshire Brewery be developed, the potential exists for a network of laneways to be implemented. In many ways the area has the appropriate scale, history and urban character for such a move to succeed if attempted.

Yorkshire Brewery has a story to tell

Post Yorkshire Brewery, SMA Projects will now turn its attention to three forthcoming projects. Hayball have been retained as the architect of choice and look to have taken their design queue from Yorkshire Brewery with a similar exterior design theme from across both 250 Gore Street and 338 Gore Street, both in Fitzroy.

A third as yet unnamed project is also planned by the Southbank developer.

See below a host of images taken of Yorkshire Brewery in recent days.

The retained southern brick facade


Melbman's picture

Looks good but is there much scope for activation there, in terms of retail space provsion for any future laneway connectivity in the area?

Overall a good heritage outcome from what has been shown.

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Bilby's picture

Yes, the site has a story to tell - a story of years of demolition by neglect and heritage "refurbishment" of one of the state's most important 19th century brewery complexes deeply compromised by commercial expedience. The blatant facadism apparent here along the laneway frontages, and failure to sensitively respond to the landmark feature of the site (the brew tower - once Melbourne's tallest building, now overwhelmed by the adjoining towers), represent a failure to adequately manage the site and respond to development pressures by Heritage Victoria. If the outcome was in line with established best practice, one could argue otherwise, but very little about this development would meet with approval under the Burra Charter or any other framework for dealing with such important buildings. Heritage Victoria has failed here, as it failed to protect the heritage values of the Windsor Hotel, and has also most recently failed to protect the heritage values of the Princess Mary club at 118 Lonsdale Street. Whether this development becomes a lively urban precinct or not (and if the wind effects experienced at street level are anything to go by, that is still an open question), the heritage outcome here cannot be considered "good" by current best practice principals.

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Rohan Storey's picture

Interesting to see how the 'hero' perspective of the brew tower from within measures up to the reality ! (ie it doesnt)

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