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Retaining the historic 'big shed'

Category  Adaptive Reuse  |  Project  Former Cable Tramway Engine House, Abbotsford Street, North Melbourne  |  Architects  Metaxas Architects (Robert Gordon, Original Architect) Melbourne

Context

The heritage listed former North Melbourne Cable Tram Engine House was built in the late 19th century and is a local landmark site. The Engine House's classical brick façade wraps around the corner of a major intersection and hides the long open shed behind.

Challenge

The apartments needed to maintain the top-lit central space running the length of the shed, to both admit light and respect the historic form and function of the building. The building also required a range of heritage conservation works.

Response

The interior retains internal light through the roof lantern by stacking three-level apartment spaces either side of the central space with each apartment gaining side light from the original exterior windows. The upper rooms retain exposed original roof trusses. The internal glazed entry features graphic historical interpretation. From the street, the building retains its appearance as single storey, while three levels sit discreetly behind the facade.

Lessons

In the adaptive reuse of a modest industrial heritage building the subdivision of the interior maximises the light from the original openings, and provides an internal 'street' for car access, which maintains the sense of a working engine house.

More information

Fact Sheet - Former Cable Tramway Engine House, Abbotsford Street, North Melbourne ((PDF, 1.1 MB))
Fact Sheet - Former Cable Tramway Engine House, Abbotsford Street, North Melbourne accessible version ((DOC, 32.0 KB))

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