Following on from our recent article about the redevelopment of a former industrial site in Fitzroy North to create the Roi apartments , I'd like to now focus on another urban renewal project destined to create much interest due to the heritage concerns of the Yorkshire Brewery redevelopment.
The Yorkshire Brewery designed by architect James Wood and built in 1880 was the tallest building in Australia for 10 years until the construction of the 10 storey Finks building. The most prominent feature of the site is the multi storey polychrome brick tower built in a Romanesque style which consists of a large mansard roof described as being in the French Second Empire style.
The site has been used for other uses besides a brewery, in 1909 the Carlton and United breweries purchased the brewery and used it as a standby plant then later a cooperage. By the time the 1950's came around, Carlton and United breweries ceased their production of wooden barrels and opted for steel instead which ultimately closed the cooperage at the site.
Since 1997, there have been a number of different developers looking to redevelop the site, with one such developer removing the heritage listed stables without a permit which lead to a fine from the Yarra City Council of $110,000. Naughty naughty.
According to Yarra City Council records, the current proposed redevelopment of the former Yorkshire brewery site has been designed by Hayball architects which according the original application submitted by SMA projects in late 2011 encompassed the restoration, adaptation and integration of the neglected heritage buildings into a mixed use development with a predominantly residential component.
Newly constructed residential buildings were proposed to range from 3 storeys to 17 storeys in height, a two level basement carpark using a car stacker system and a neighbourhood square. However following community objections the Council refused the application and asked SMA projects to resubmit their proposal.
A new amended application was lodged with council in mid 2012 based on addressing the concerns outlined by objectors, then in October 2012 the Council rejected the proposal citing the development's scale and height did not fit in with the local surrounds and the matter was taken to VCAT. Currently, VCAT have set Council's decision aside and ordered them to approve the current proposal.
Refer to the Yarra City Council's site for more information.
Putting historical and planning wrangling aside and with the aid of limited information at this stage about the proposal, it appears the developer and architects have made a concerted effort to marry the old and the new. With the soon to be restored graffiti-laden brick tower as the centrepiece of the redevelopment, it was important for Hayball not to overpower the tower's presence with the new additions.
The internal sun-filled communal courtyard will also draw attention to the tower as it stands tall and proud in centre of the courtyard. The developers and architects must be congratulated for taking on a somewhat daunting task of restoring such an unloved site where other developers have failed, in the past, to kick start the process.
Thankfully for us, the reuse and rejuvenation of a once grand historical complex will surely enhance Melbourne's already rich urban fabric rather than rotting away in the memories of a once glorious past.
Sources and further reading