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Woods Bagot reimagines historic wool stores as contemporary mixed-use precinct
Construction is underway on stage one of the Younghusband development, advancing what will be Melbourne’s largest net-zero-carbon, adaptive reuse precinct.
The 1.57-hectare site, in Melbourne’s inner-west suburb of Kensington, is home to a 122-year-old redbrick wool store and adjoining network of industrial early-20th-century buildings.
Its rich history can be traced back to 1901 when the first wool store building was commissioned by wool seller R Goldsberg Row and Co. The site was later acquired by broker Younghusband and Co, which operated it until 1970.
Talk to Peter Miglis about Mixed Use
In recent decades the precinct has been largely disused, most recently serving as a hub for small-scale arts endeavours and a costume storage facility for the Australian Ballet.
It was acquired for development by joint venture partners Built, Ivanhoe Cambridge and Irongate in 2022.
Stage one of the redevelopment features the restoration and adaptive reuse of the two central wool stores, reimagined as 17,560 square metres (sqm) of retail and commercial office space.
Using a design methodology that seeks to “lightly touch” the existing historic structures, Woods Bagot will retain the rich heritage character of the brick warehouses, including decommissioned bail elevators and wool pulleys, original Younghusband painted signage, steel-framed windows, and a distinctive sawtooth roof (originally instated to help merchants scrutinise the quality of the wool beneath the natural light).
The public realm interweaves a variety of public spaces, including existing bluestone laneways and new public gathering spaces. Multiple entry points have been carefully curated to provide connections, inviting public and private collaboration, supporting the Younghusband community.
Central to the design is a ‘town square’, strategically located at the heart of the precinct, offering light filled auditorium seating – a space for people to meet, share, socialise, and connect.
The town square connects to the new activated rail corridor, a landscaped shared pedestrian and bicycle pathway.
Principal architect Peter Miglis said new additions will be “contemporary yet complementary”, to respect and rejuvenate the site history while future-proofing the buildings.
New interventions include modern glass lifts and external link bridges suspended over the bluestone laneway to improve access and add animation within the building.
Miglis said stage one – scheduled to complete in mid-2024 – celebrates the characterful personality and patina of the brick building, complete with a faint redolence of remnant lanolin, creating a unique workspace for cultivating curiosity, community and creativity.
Stage two of Younghusband is a new build with development approval: an eight-storey office building inspired by nearby grain silos (Kensington is a former transport hub for agricultural products), its curved facade wrapped in a lightweight stretched metal veil.
This stage will add a further 14,000 sqm in net lettable area with ground floor retail connections.
Pending approval, stage three will include a further 13,000 sqm across six levels of premium office space, with a large public plaza with integrated landscape.
Once operational, the Younghusband development will be entirely carbon neutral, running on 100 per cent renewable electricity, with a photovoltaic array and rainwater collection facilities installed on the sawtooth roof.
The precinct is targeting a 6-star Green Star rating, a 5.5-star NABERS Office Energy rating (base building) and a 4.5-star NABERS water rating.
Peter Miglis, Principal, Woods Bagot, and Deputy Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Nicholas Reece, at Younghusband construction launch.
“The design approach is to ‘lightly touch’ the existing wool store buildings, respecting the past while providing contemporary interventions for the next evolution of the buildings’ life.”