A turn-of-the-century wool store in Melbourne’s north will be converted into a commercial and creative hub, with the City of Melbourne granting planning approval to a Woods Bagot-designed proposal.
The former Younghusband wool store in the suburb of Kensington comprises a series of large-scale industrial red-brick buildings, built over a period of 60 years from 1901, spanning two blocks and connected by a bluestone laneway. It is currently occupied by a number of stores, offices and creative industry businesses.
Developer Impact Investment Group plans to develop the precinct in three stages over five years – with completion slated for 2021 – to create an “industrial village” featuring offices, arts and craft centres and a rooftop restaurant. The first stage of the project, for which planning approval has been granted, will see the central wool store (built in 1906) rejuvenated, with upgrades to services, offices, shops, studios and suites and new communal indoor spaces to follow.
A project statement from Woods Bagot says that the rich diversity of the complex demands a “touch lightly” approach, “whereby the design aims to respect the past while also innovating for the future.”
“This involves adding only what needs to be added, while only removing what is necessary,” reads the statement.
One such move outlined in the planning application would see the removal of sections of solid roofing, which would be replaced with translucent sheeting to maintain the profile of the sawtooth roofs typical of wool stores while internal illuminating common areas.