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Urban Renewal: Tip Top Brunswick East

The VPELA Revue


Where history meets style.

Little Projects recently completed our Tip Top Brunswick East redevelopment, by far the most exciting project Brunswick East has seen in decades.

At the heart of this project is a truly landmark site. After securing this prime 1.2ha site, just 3.7km from Melbourne’s CBD and near the thriving Lygon Street precinct back in 2009, we set about transforming it into an exciting lifestyle precinct.

Recently, Tip Top Brunswick East was awarded the 2014 UDIA VIC Urban Renewal Award and the 2014 Australian Property Institute Heritage Property Award. Tip Top has since been nominated as a finalist in the National UDIA Awards representing Victoria to be held early in 2015.

With an end project cost of $215 million the rejuvenation plans for Tip Top, located between Edward and Weston Streets, came with a strong commitment to maintain and celebrate the site’s iconic history. Initially operated by Northern Bakeries and later Tip Top Brunswick, this site has high local historical and social significance.

Established in 1939 pre-war Melbourne, the old bakery site needed significant remediation works to be revitalised after being derelict for nearly a decade. The restoration extended from the deco building on Edward Street that was the original offices, to the Weston Street stables and beyond.

We allowed the authenticity of the site’s history guide us. We sought out Kim Lowman from RotheLowman to design a modern, contemporary development that connected strongly with the heritage of the site.

The team and I have extensive experience working with complex sites, and always work collaboratively at both a local and state level to ensure objectives are achieved for the development as well as community as a whole. There had been two unsuccessful attempts by previous developers, before Little Projects acquired the site. Over the next two years, we met with local councillors and the local residents group with a focus on ensuring our vision could align with local objectives so that we would be able to deliver the best possibly outcome for our future residents and their surrounding community.

This alignment of vision extended beyond the site. From discussions we identified some of the local infrastructure needs, which included a lack of child care facilities and a shortage of public car parking close to Sydney Road. These items have been included within Tip Top. For the design, we were always committed to integrating and restoring the heritage facades on Edward and Weston Streets. another key opportunity for Little Projects was to connect the development into the network of surrounding streets through the use of pedestrian and vehicle linkages for residents and the local community to utilise. The development features a new lane that connects Edward and Weston Streets for vehicles, bicycles and pedestrian use, as well as several landscaped pedestrian mews.

The planning process was long and cumbersome with a very strong residents group who were well organised. On the night of the Council meeting to determine the application it was standing room only.

Initially we had hoped for ten storeys in the middle of the site as we had been very sensitive to the surrounding interfaces.

Council approved 7 storeys which after appeal at VCAT was increased to eight storeys.

We spent more than eight months in initial planning and design meetings with the residents, heritage consultants and council. From application to final VCAT approval was another 13 months.

Tip Top Brunswick East also has a Green Travel Plan for residents, which encourages residents to live sustainably, making the most of its excellent proximity to public transport and through the provision of extensive bicycle parking spaces. There are 266 resident bike spaces within the basement and an additional 56 visitor bike spaces, aimed to encourage a reduction in the use of cars.

The development achieves an overall six star energy rating, with a focus on maximising liveability and light within the residences.

ESD initiatives at Tip Top include 8kw photovoltaic system with panels to provide light and power to the common area, solar gas boosted hot water across all buildings, reverse cycle heating/cooling units that work in conjunction with a thermally efficient building envelope energy efficient appliances and lighting throughout, motion sensors to common area lighting and a one hundred thousand litre rainwater catchment to supply water to the common area landscaping.

Our Tip Top redevelopment features a mix of apartments, townhouses and commercial spaces, designed to suit a range of owner occupiers, first home buyers and investors.

Consisting of six unique residential buildings, each building taking inspiration from the site’s bakery heritage. While individual in their design, they sit cohesively together to create a striking architectural stateement. We even branded the buildings with bread inspired names to pay further homage to the site’s history – Stables, Seeds, Silo, Rye, Grain and Malt.

The apartments focus on natural light and liveable design, where every element of space is considered for maximum liveability. We wanted the apartments to be modern yet timeless and functional. This attention to detail and superior quality is a hallmark of Little Projects work to date.

Subtle approaches taken by the architects, RotheLowman, allowed us to tell the story of the old and the new to create a grand regeneration.

The Rye building on Edward Street is a reinvention of the bakery’s old art deco offices. The building is an example of the Dutch Modernist approach and draws on the architecture of William Dudok, as well as pre-eminent Melbourne architect Harry Norris. The lobby has retained the original glasswork, the old form of the staircase and the old terrazzo flooring. These work together with beautiful modern custom pendants and a feature heritage artwork installation to blend the old with the new.

The old Stables building has been reinvigorated on Weston Street. To think that years ago this originally housed the horses and carts used to deliver warm loaves of bread to the city of Melbourne and is now home to many new residents.

The Silo building is the centrepiece of our new community and features 167 one and two-bedroom apartments. It’s the tallest building at eight levels with the upper levels enjoying views to the CBD, the Dandenong Ranges and Melbourne’s greater north. But the height of Silo cannot be seen from either Weston or Edward Streets, being cleverly concealed from view by the Rye and Stables buildings.

The Grain building on Weston Street boasts sweeping art deco inspired architecture, and features only 21 bespoke apartments with curved edges and generous terrace balconies.

The Malt townhouses at four levels, provide three bedrooms, good storage, a media room, large open planned living and a private underground garage.

The Seeds building features 78 generously proportioned one and two-bedroom apartments, each with a private courtyard or balcony. Spanning the entire rooftop level of the Seeds is the 92 place childcare centre. The childcare centre is an incredible space, integrating indoor and outdoor spaces to provide year round enjoyment. We worked closely with the Learning Sanctuary to deliver a truly unique childcare centre, with private lift and lobby access. This is an ideal new addition to this suburb on the rise.

The most pleasing aspect is that everyone loves the outcome.

We have taken the Council planning team and many of the initial residents who were against the proposal through the site since completion, and fair to say it’s met with resounding positives.

Following the projects completion late in 2014, we hosted a “Live a Little” street festival for residents of Tip Top Brunswick East and the surrounding streets to celebrate its completion and encourage our residents to meet their new neighbours. We celebrated with live music, good food, bread making classes and a host of other activities to bring the community together.

From priceless local heritage, we have crafted and delivered a truly healthy and happy community. The reinvention of the old bakery is now complete, yet this story for Tip Top residents is just beginning.

Read more about the Tip Top redevelopment here.

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