South Yarra's Jam Factory redevelopment a public realm bonanza

When a site spans 19,280 square metres, it becomes a 'district'. That's the case according to the development team behind the Jam Factory's pending overhaul.

Reporting on the project to date has focused on the close to 60,000 square metres of new commercial space that is earmarked for the site, but more importantly from a layperson's perspective is the extensive new public realm that is planned as part of the development.

Our vision for the new Jam Factory is to create a highly permeable site, an extension to its context - a district defined through an ensemble of buildings that embodies and reflects the site’s rich character and establishes a new district, a breathing space, a destination of shopping, eating, working.

Jam Factory shapes as  far more than just a commercial reworking of the existing complex. A genuine gesture to the people.

The opportunity to create this grand gesture has fallen to Bates Smart and Nottingham-based Leonard Design Architects. Their challenge as set down by developer Newmark Capital was to create Australia’s premiere mixed-use district.

Green rooftop expanses. Image: Bates Smart

A highlight of the reworked Jam Factory's design is the publicly accessible network of green terraces and passages that will sit atop level 3.

The spaces feature direct access from ground level from a number of locations and will be highly activated throughout the day due to the location of the commercial lobbies on these levels.

In addition, the proposed garden terrace located along the northern edge of the site will receive high exposure to direct northern sun throughout the day due to abutting rail reserve which prevents the interface from being ‘built out’.

The multiple access points will join with a network of activated roads and laneways at ground level.

In the application now with City of Stonnington, Newmark Capital's stated goal is to revitalise the current complex so that it reflects the needs of the whole community.

Chapel Street permeability. Image: Bates Smart

According to planning documents, key features of the proposed ground floor treatment include: 

  • A new north facing dining terrace with extensive greenery and public realm opened up. Vertical links to the level three elevated garden terrace will also be incorporated.
  • A new laneway entry from Garden Street aligned with Bray Street to the south. This new laneway physically and visually reconnects the site to the southern road network and offers unique opportunities for walkable and pedestrian-scaled ground plane treatments.
  • Re-opening the existing original façade on Garden Street to introduce a variety of smaller scaled retail and dining formats will activate Garden Street from a moribund vacant street to a vibrant and pedestrian-friendly street.
  • The proposed design ‘opens up’ new access points from Chapel Street by reinstating Turnbull Street lanes and a new open plaza on Chapel Street to the north of the site.
  • Internal privately managed, publicly accessible spaces, laneways and streets feature different widths, lengths and overall design which creates a series of different spaces with different identities, character and ‘feel’ similar to what would be expected across a typical city block.
  • Depending on their purpose, the width of each internal laneway has been modelled on analysis of successful outcomes within Melbourne – Bank Place, Degraves Street, the Causeway within the central city have informed this aspect of the proposal.
  • A new ‘Jam Factory Square’ similar in scale to QV Square in Melbourne. Designed with a number of events in mind (normal day, small events, larger events).
  • The courtyard is north facing and will allow light to filter through the space and define the proposed series of streets and lanes.

Submitted during October, the cost of construction for the project exceeds $400 million, making it one of Melbourne's largest pending projects.

A green view toward South Yarra's Capitol Grand building. Image: Bates Smart


Michael Berquez's picture

Might not be a skyscraper as such, but this is my favourite proposal going round at the moment.

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Nicholas Harrison's picture

Fantastic development.

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theboynoodle's picture

I'm pleased to see that this will open up to Garden Street. That could be a lovely little spot to get some activity away from the main Chapel Street drag.

This looks great, but I'm still curious as to whether it is being done with suitable configuration/reservation for a future metro station underneath.

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johnproctor's picture

^ why is that needed?

The nearest edge of the site from Chapel Street is ~400m from South Yarra Station (via Lovers Walk) and only 450m from Hawksburn.

It is 1 interchange away from being within 450m walk of the entire rail network just like the sites below...

for comparison Crown Casino is 550m walk from both Flinders Street and Southern Cross Stations, Collins Arch 450m+ from both FSS and SXS and ANZ building (the biggest single office building in Melbourne) is 750m walk from Southern Cross Station.

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theboynoodle's picture

I'm not saying it's needed. But we have already been told that a SY MMR station would impact the Jam Factory (as is), and we have also been told that a SY MMR station could be added in the future if there was a need (which means it's a possibility).

I'd be curious as to how far this development would tilt the economic case for MMR having an SY station from the outset.. given one of the main problems of that station was that it would require purchasing some of this site... all of a sudden there are opportunities for a bit of value capture and quid-pro-quo from commercial site operator who might rather fancy the idea of an MMR station feeding into their property. Not that I think the SY station business case should be reopened, mind.

But sure, there's plenty of station close by.. albeit that SY station has serious peak-time passenger capacity/safety issues which need sorting out.

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Adam Ford's picture

Yes!! Public realm BONANZA!
So long as you don't open your eyes while walking through it.

The finer detail on this is awful. The heritage building is now a Disney set.

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Michael Berquez's picture

Well that's just your opinion Adam, I've seen the renders, plans etc in person and I reckon the interiors are incredible, really quite organic and natural.
Would you rather it stay the way it is right now?

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Nicholas Harrison's picture

The heritage building was turned into a po-mo Disney set in the 1990's. All of the interiors and machinery that was left when they converted it into the Jam Factory in the 1970's was destroyed at that time. All that was left was the facades and the Chimney and the facades were altered almost beyond salvation.

This will actually restore the heritage facades (as much as they can be given what is left) and make the retained chimney more of a focal point.

The finer detail is robust in keeping with the former industrial use of the site and includes the extensive use of exposed steel beams and brickwork.

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