Adaptive re-use of a heritage listed building into a bulky goods retail building
Traditionally retail has had an uncomfortable relationship with existing built forms, especially if heritage issues are also present, positing that retail requires bespoke buildings to ensure flexibility for the constant changes required by this format. Add to this mix then a use such as bulky goods retailing renowned for its use of large undifferentiated, context neutral, signage ridden built outcomes and we have the scene for a challenging project.
From the start Home HQ sought to challenge the established norms for this typology; traditionally bulky goods buildings are characterised less by their built form and more about their ability to create isolated, internalised environments. The built form in this typology is reduced to little more than a denuded container or support structure for signage. Home HQ, in contrast seeks to provide a contemporary solution (place and time specific) to a contemporary typology (bulky goods retailing) within a historically significant built form.
The building programme could not be accommodated within the existing building and we therefore sought to undertake an extension which unashamedly announced a ‘long life, loose fit’ mantra to the scheme. The extension clasps the existing brick and concrete saw tooth 1940’s factory form with a sinuous metallic form; contrasting the rectilinear existing form against the amorphous new form; the visual weight of brick and concrete against the apparent lightness of thin metal ribbons. Signage the bane of this typology is dealt with in a singular illuminated ribbon, allowing flexibility and visual control simultaneously. The built form in the case of Home HQ is overt and strong, acting not merely as a mute container for goods but more pertinently as an iconic form.
The interior draws elements of the existing expressed structure in a series of inserted forms containing the retail sections. The interior is strongly industrial and again is not a monochromatic mute container for retail but an expressive and opinionated form. The material palette for the new echoes and extends the existing palette of concrete and steel with timber, plywood and the use if strong graphic colour. Arranged around a simple central void crowned by the existing industrial skylights this form becomes the organising device for movement through the building. A 4 star green star rating has been achieved; a first for this typology in Australia.
The use of bespoke public art both internally and externally which charts the history of the site originally as a brickworks, then as an ammunition factory and finally as council works depot, is explored. The use of existing cranes in the central void, graphics and large pieces incorporating re used roof trusses present an evocative character to the building.
Home HQ unequivocally demonstrates that design can act to allow the sublime in the most ordinary and neglected.