Articles / Renovation

Printing press transformed into spectacular new home

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This dilapidated factory building was partially demolished and rebuilt with salvaged materials

This former stable and later print factory was purchased with the intention to renovate and turn it into studios and a house

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Architect: Steffen Welsch Architects
Photography by Wolf-Peter Steinheisser Photography

From the architect: This project is about recognising the spirit of a place. Located in Melbourne’s inner-city opposite a suburban train station this is a re-assembly of an old dilapidated factory building to become a home with studios for an artist and musician. The original building formed an integral part of an urban neighbourhood.

After exploring options of retaining the existing structure we decided to partly demolish and rebuild the brick shell in its original form with the materials salvaged on site. A new first floor bedroom wing was inserted as a lightweight structure supported by a steel frame and defines the living area below. The studios were built as commercial spaces reduced construction cost.

Our approach of retaining the spirit of the original fabric continued into details. Unfinished materials were employed to create a non-precious environment that is easy to use and maintain.

The former stable and later print factory was purchased with the intention to renovate and turn it into studios and a house. Part of the building’s appeal that was its atmosphere, textures and patina expressing its history.

Careful investigation revealed that the building could not be saved with reasonable means and a conversion could not achieve required energy efficiency and thermal performance. Various options were explored: a new house design, prefabricated modular buildings but none suited the brief and made a valuable contribution to the urban fabric in this location.

The driver for our design concept was the contribution of the place to its immediate environment. This led to partially demolishing the old walls and roof, removing the slab and rebuilding using the original bricks.

Rebuilding enabled the new dwelling to achieve a good thermal performance while maintaining the tactile and aesthetic qualities of an aged structure. Parts of external wall and roof trusses (non-compliant under current structural codes), were kept, reinforced and merged into the aesthetic concept. The new program could be realised with modest and simple insertions and additions.


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