Urban regeneration grips Brunswick's massive Licorice Factory site

7,000 square metres of prime yet underutilised Brunswick real estate is heading down the path of urban regeneration.

342-348 Victoria Street had for generations been the home of Australian Licorice Company. Whilst production onsite may have ceased during 1985 the operation's redundant chimney takes pride of place over the site, so much so it is considered of "historic, social, architectural and scientific importance to the State of Victoria" by the Victorian Heritage Database.

With this in mind Fieldwork Architects have gone about creating a commercial, residential and retail precinct for the site that will see the chimney and associated firebox retained.

Carlton-based Australian Licorice Company Pty Ltd has instigated the site's redevelopment.

342-348 Victoria Street application summary

Commercial component. Image: Fieldwork Architects
  • Submitted October 2017
  • Cost of development: $82 million
  • 4 differing buildings from 3 to 11 levels in height or 36.7 metres
  • Commercial space: 6,494 square metres
  • 177 dwellings: 67 x 1BR, 78 x 2BR, 6 x 3BR, 26 x townhouses
  • 8 retail tenancies covering 1,693 square metres
  • 2 basement levels: 10 motorbikes, 335 vehicles, 286 bicycles
  • 1,400 square metre public open plaza
  • Communal areas

Accessibility to the adjoining Brunswick Railway Station will also be enhanced by way of new pedestrian links and expanded open space. The proposed development's demolition plans also requests the removal of kerb and street car parks along Rosser Street and Wilkinson Street, resulting in both streets becoming shared zones.

An expanded Upfield Bike Path also connects to the proposed development's public open plaza, promoting pedestrian traffic through the site to Victoria Street and Rosser Street. 

Typical Fieldwork finishes on show. Image: Fieldwork Architects

Visually 342-348 Victoria Street looks to be the aggregation of a number of previous Fieldwork Architects projects.

Aspects of the development mirrors the practice's 249 Queens Parade, and to a lesser extent 808 Sydney Road and 243 Queens Parade. The uniform 'veil' finish of Fieldworks Architects' Cremorne office design is also reprised over certain elevations within 342-348 Victoria Street.

342-348 Victoria Street is the most recent, and largest, of three current Brunswick projects for Fieldworks Architects. The aforementioned 808 Sydney Road for PACE Development Group is well into construction whilst 1-7 Wilson Avenue is at planning and consists of 61 apartments across 8 levels for Neometro.


Ground level expectations. Image: Fieldwork Architects

City of Moreland is not short on large former industrial sites that have over time been redeveloped for residential purposes. Urban Melbourne has in the past highlighted the Tip Top Brunswick East as a prime example of what a large site can achieve at street level.

Conversely Ettaro Apartments also in Brunswick East is at the other end of the scale, in terms of a less than ideal street level character and activation outcome.

As per the early renders, 342-348 Victoria Street may well insert itself at the very pointy in that it could provide an exponentially superior finer grain outcome relative to most projects across Moreland and greater Melbourne for that matter. Scale, greenery, earthy materials (particularly brick), green spaces, heritage retention for adaptive reuse, enhanced transport links and pedestrian permeability; it sounds like the quintessential contemporary Melbourne urban regeneration development.

If the renders are a true indication, Brunswick is in line for a benchmark project.


Bilby's picture

This looks like a pretty interesting urban project.

It seems massively ironic, though, that Fieldwork are set to deliver a homage to early industrial curtain wall buildings on this site, whilst in Yarra, the community and council almost universally derided Heritage Victoria's listing of Victoria's first industrial curtain wall building, the APM Boiler House - on the grounds that it was "ugly" and an "eyesore".

Unfortunately, by the time those concerned residents will be able to visit the Australian Licorice Company site to see just how well these buildings will sit in a regenerated urban village context, the APM Boiler House will have been consigned to the wreckers.


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theboynoodle's picture

Terrific location for something of this scale, and it does look like a decent design approach.

The unit breakdown is a bit 'business as usual'... lots of 1 and 2 beds etc. So it's still presumably going to be playing to the investor market. But that's the world that commercial operators are living in.

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