Innovative adaptive re-use of historic warehouse opens the building up to a new lease of life

The reworking of Fremantle's Dalgety Wool Stores into Heirloom apartments not only preserves the heritage building, it brings its character features to the fore
Story by: Paul Taylor Photography by: Greg Hocking
Original structural elements, detailing and materials have been architecture, condominium, courtyard, daylighting, elevation, facade, home, house, interior design, property, real estate, residential area, gray
Original structural elements, detailing and materials have been retained in the Dalgety Wool Stores conversion to the 183 Heirloom apartments. The project demonstrates developer Match’s ongoing commitment to changing the perception of apartment livi

When the recent drive to increase the number of inner city residential units began a couple of decades ago, historical buildings were often in the demolition spotlight. Though located in prime positions, they were deemed expensive to renovate, with no easy way for developers to maximise returns by packing units into the available space.

Luckily, not all of those heritage buildings fell victim to the wreckers ball, and some are again being considered for adaptive reuse.

One such prominent building on Fremantle's eastern gateway is Dalgety Wool Stores, recently converted to Heirloom apartments by Match.

Match parent company M/Group managing director Lloyd Clark says the Wool Stores were one of Western Australia's most recognised buildings.

"Although a significant development challenge, the inherent classic warehouse form was proving extremely popular across Australia as an apartment environment," says Clark.

"The features of the building were such that you could not replicate them in any new apartment project. They were part of the building's structure and heritage, and the prospect of incorporating them into apartment buyers' homes was just an enormous opportunity."

But the biggest challenge in undertaking the conversion was still the commercial viability.

"By their very nature, heritage buildings are expensive to adapt and reuse, so finding a way to do that while maintaining viability was critical," he says. "But at the same time, retaining, reusing and capitalising on the existing fabric was a priority."

advertisement

Three double loaded blocks of apartments have been architecture, building, daylighting, lobby, mixed use, real estate, gray, white
Three double loaded blocks of apartments have been inserted into the Dalgety Wool Stores building. For the facade blocks, the outer apartments have street frontages, while the inner ones face into the atriums.

Working with architects Cameron Chisholm Nicol, Match went through a number of iterations for the project including looking at adding an extra floor to increase the number of apartments.

"However, from a heritage point of view, this would have been extremely invasive, as well as structurally catastrophic."

Instead, Match took the unusual approach of working within the building's existing structure. While this significantly reduced the number of apartments, it also reduced construction costs.

Cameron Chisholm Nicol associate director Deborah Binet says that the 1922 building was of historical significance and had a number of attractive features including the heritage brick facades as well as the internal timber columns, beams and struts spanning quite long distances.

"It was structurally very sound, but it was very dilapidated, with most of it having been empty for several years," Binet says.

While the brickwork and columns needed some remedial work, and patches of floorboards needed replacing, it was the process of incorporating the 183 apartments into the original structure that was the real design challenge.

"We started by inserting three apartment blocks into the large, square floorplate," she says. "Then, by removing sections of roof sheets and floorboards, we cut two atriums into the space. That allowed us to get natural light into the centre of the development and into all the apartments."

Apartment set-out was determined by the location of the existing jarrah columns a complex task due to many of the structural elements not being square. Double loading the apartments in each block meant they all have balconies, providing either external or atrium views.

Apartments inserted into the Dalgety Wool Stores make bed frame, bedroom, floor, furniture, home, interior design, living room, room, wall, window, gray
Apartments inserted into the Dalgety Wool Stores make the most of the buildings original brick structure and jarrah beams.

The drive to make the most of the existing character features included the floorboards.

"The timber floors were all restored and we wanted to make sure they were visible. By building a new floor over the top, we could accommodate all the services and also provide the required fire rating and acoustic separation between apartments.

"But the existing floors were then left exposed as the ceiling for the apartment below."

While the ceilings are 3.6m high, all interior walls are offset from the existing columns and stop at 2.4m, being either open above or glazed. This allows clear views of the timber ceiling and facilitates maximum light penetration.

On both facades, existing window openings had to be retained. New aluminium windows were inserted for the apartments' interiors, while window openings to balconies were left unglazed to create protected outdoor space. On the Queen Victoria Street facade, new openings on the top floor were left frameless to distinguish them from the original windows.

Lloyd Clark says boutique, limited property has an intrinsic value that's beyond market comparison.

"When you add in an historical significance that demands the level of attention that Heirloom does, it's hard to put a price on that regardless of where we are on the property cycle."

Dec 21, 2017

Credit list

Project
Heirloom apartments, former Dalgety Wool Stores
Developer
Match, part of M/Group
Heritage architect
Hocking Heritage Studio
Construction company
Built
Mechanical
WSP
Traffic
Transcore
Quantity surveyor
Ralph Beattie Bosworth
Glazing system
Jason Windows
Lift services
Schindler
Heating
LG reverse cycle split system
Kitchen cabinets
Polytech, JHW
Splashback
Laminam, Quantum Quartz
Location
Fremantle, WA
Architect
Cameron Chisholm Nicol
Heritage consultant
TPG
Electrical
ETC
Acoustic
Herring Storer Acoustics
BCA certifier
Milestone Certifiers
Planner
Greg Rowe & Associates; MW Urban
Public area flooring
Corridor carpets – Interface; atrium tiles – D’Amelio Stone
Apartment interior design and kitchen design
Cameron Chisholm Nicol
Paint
Dulux
Benchtops
Corian, Quantum Quartz
Oven, cooktop, ventilation
Bosch

advertisement

advertisement

advertisement

advertisement

Similar stories

Treehouse at Parkside Walk

This apartment complex features double height communal spaces, a landscaped deck with resort style facilities and an infinity edge swimming pool Read more

Appliances from cutting-edge, go-ahead global company now available in New Zealand

High on the Fortune 500 list, and with a comprehensive stable of world-beating appliances and valuable linked company acquisitions, Midea is going p... Read more

The hotel room house

Home away from home? This hotel room is like a tiny house within the room Read more

Latest books

Home Trends 3402

Placing the kitchen at the heart of a home is not just about creating a convenient zone for easy food preparation and eating meals.Just as important is the way it's seen as an attractive place where family can spend time togeth... Read more

Home Trends 3401

If you're designing a bathroom for a new home or renovating your existing one, you'll quickly discover how involved the process can be.It's not only the challenge of how to fit the different functional zones into the often limi... Read more

Home Trends 3307

While we might all have ideas for the home design that we want, consulting a good architect or designer will also open us up to other design possibilities that we haven't thought of.To help get you started on creating the home ... Read more

Related profiles

Midea Appliances

Established in 1968, Midea is a publicly listed and, since July 2016, Fortune 500 Company that offers one of the most comprehensive ranges in the home appliance industry. Read more

Glasshape Ltd

Glasshape, established in 1986, is a leading innovator, designer and manufacturer of curved, toughened and laminated specialty glass. Family owned and based in Auckland, New Zealand, Glasshape’s philosophy of growth through innovat... Read more

The Studio of Tableware

The Studio of Tableware is regarded as New Zealand’s leading tableware specialist. Read more