Art of the red brick conversion

I hope I'm not alone when I say I find red brick warehouse conversions to be aesthetically the most endearing architecture genre throughout Melbourne. The earthy, subtle nature of the original building (generally a warehouse) supplemented with modern extensions, and architects on occasion given total creative freedom, that more often than not leads to an exceptional urban outcome. Even new buildings which mimic those around them by incorporating a brick podium tend to blend in exceptionally well. Façadism aside, not many buildings can boast such history, character and contrasting architectural styles all in a package that is generally lowrise and unlikely to raise the ire of the most ardent opponent to urban change.

So today's article pays particular attention to those conversions found throughout North and West Melbourne, two suburbs flush with such warehouses, many of which have already found their adaptive reuse. Dotted throughout both suburbs, some are prevalent while many cannot be seen from main thoroughfares, but rather by traversing the area's side and back streets. Having said that my ultimate conversion (and one of my favourite Melbourne buildings for that matter) is the Unique Electrics Building found on Dryburgh Street and Victoria Street, North Melbourne - plain for all to see.

Its design, scale, material and colour composition can't be beaten! Aside from knowing that Urban Spaces Architects at one point held space within the building, the internet has yielded scarce little by way of information so feel free to add comment and appease my curiousity if you have any further information on the Unique Electrics Building.

Further potential conversions are in the pipeline through the area with the most notable being 181-189 Capel Street, North Melbourne. Currently on offer for short term lease, feasibility and development concepts have been put forward by a number of firms, on of which is Genton Architects. Their website project statement reads as follows;

"A site investigation and yield study was conducted to review the potential yield of a former industrial site on Melbourne’s CBD fringe. The project proposed to restore the existing brickwork façade into a retail podium on corner with high visibility. A new service lane provides access for the anchor tenant. A series of lower scale residential apartments were situated above with city views."

Here's hoping something akin to the above design above is realised. Regardless see below a compilation of images from North and West Melbourne, by no means an absolute pictorial list but nonetheless a snapshot of the quality architecture that lies sometimes where least expected. In times to come will look at conversions through other Melbourne locales.


O'Connell Street, North Melbourne

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