Wertheim Factory Conversion / Kerstin Thompson Architects

Wertheim Factory Conversion  / Kerstin Thompson Architects - Windows, Brick, Facade, ArchWertheim Factory Conversion  / Kerstin Thompson Architects - Image 3 of 14Wertheim Factory Conversion  / Kerstin Thompson Architects - Windows, BedroomWertheim Factory Conversion  / Kerstin Thompson Architects - Windows, FacadeWertheim Factory Conversion  / Kerstin Thompson Architects - More Images+ 9

  • Practice Team: Kerstin Thompson, Scott Diener, Laurence Dragomir, Tim Heron, Julian Patterson, Sarah Lake, Jacqui Alexander, Ben Pakulsky, Lynn Chew, Kelley Mackay, Chris Kelly, Amy Hurren, William Samuels, Michael Archibald, Claire Humphreys, Jamie Patterson, Andre Ullal
  • Heritage Consultant: Bryce Raworth
  • Access Consultant: One Group
  • Fire Engineer: JP Fire
  • Acoustic Engineer: Renzo Tonin
  • Waste Management: Leigh Design
  • Building Surveyor: Philip Chun
  • City: Melbourne
  • Country: Australia
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Wertheim Factory Conversion  / Kerstin Thompson Architects - Windows, Facade
© Derek Swalwell

Text description provided by the architects. The Wertheim Factory (1909) is a listed building of historic significance. Its redevelopment by Lend Lease introduces a mixture of residential, community and retail use into this substantial brick building, originally designed by Nahum Barnet and previously the home of the Wertheim piano factory, Heinz and GTV Nine.

Wertheim Factory Conversion  / Kerstin Thompson Architects - Door, Windows, Stairs, Facade, Arch
© Shannon McGrath

The project demonstrates the economic and cultural value in the adaptive re-use of heritage buildings at the scale of the individual dwelling, the residential complex and the broader neighbourhood. It also demonstrates how our built history can be reworked and stringently value managed to meet current building codes while maintaining links with our past in ways that enrich living opportunities for today.

Second Floor Plan

Dwelling diversity is achieved within the development (including studios, 1,2 and 3 bed single and double level apartments and 4 bedroom townhouses) as a consequence of the idiosyncrasies and irregularities of the original building. Because the layouts of the new apartments are designed to sympathetically align with existing architectural and structural features such as existing brick piers, arched windows and columns to maintain legibility of the original building’s character, and because of the variations in these throughout the building, a range of dwelling types and spatial distinction between the individual apartments is the result.

Wertheim Factory Conversion  / Kerstin Thompson Architects - Image 3 of 14
© Derek Swalwell

The quality of the common areas was a key consideration to supplement the private internal amenity of the individual dwellings. The three wings of the building define a well landscaped central courtyard - the heart of the Studio Nine precinct – for use by residents and public. Community and retail uses envisaged for the west wing and the north side of the breezeway entry will activate these edges of the courtyard and compliment the residential use. The new stair element to the south façade of the north wing brings the circulation out into the courtyard to further invigorate it. Draped in metal mesh this breezeway is designed to encourage stair over lift access to the various levels of apartments and to naturally ventilate the main residential corridors.

Wertheim Factory Conversion  / Kerstin Thompson Architects - Windows, Brick, Facade, Arch
© Derek Swalwell

Within the neighbourhood the Wertheim factory operates as the gateway into and primary address for the Studio Nine precinct (which includes the apartment towers currently under construction to the west). The main civic entry into the whole precinct is through a newly created publicly accessible breezeway off Bendigo Street which leads into the central courtyard and in turn links to the newly created street network of the precinct. But perhaps most significant is that in retaining the Wertheim factory, this important and highly valued piece of Richmond heritage enables a more sensitive interface between the surrounding community and this major development of a new residential precinct in inner Melbourne.

Mezzanine Floor Plan

In the early stages of the design process a series of guiding principles were established, based on careful analysis of the original building, to direct what and where to conserve, restore, adapt and add. The approach to the interior lighting, material palette and detail drew upon the industrial and entertainment heritage of the site.  

Wertheim Factory Conversion  / Kerstin Thompson Architects - Image 7 of 14
© Derek Swalwell


The adaptive re-use of an existing building is inherently sustainable. By using the existing structure and reducing the need for new materials environmental impact is greatly reduced.

Wertheim Factory Conversion  / Kerstin Thompson Architects - Stairs, Facade, Handrail, Steel
© Derek Swalwell

A key design element of the building, the metal mesh draped breezeway, is designed to encourage residents to use stairs instead of the lift to access their apartments and also to naturally ventilate the main residential corridors.

Wertheim Factory Conversion  / Kerstin Thompson Architects - Windows, Bedroom
© Shannon McGrath

The Studio Nine apartments also incorporate several water and energy saving features such as the maximization of natural light through existing windows, careful positioning of new windows and the addition of skylights. Motion sensor lighting in common areas, energy and water efficient fixtures and fittings and reverse cycle heating and cooling have also been installed. All apartments also have access to bicycle storage.

Longitudinal Section 2

Indoor pollutants and off-gassing materials have been reduced by the selection of premium paints and coverings. During construction 80% of waste was recycled to reduce the environmental impact of the project.

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Project location

Address:22/50 Bendigo Street, Melbourne VIC 3181, Australia

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Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
About this office
Cite: "Wertheim Factory Conversion / Kerstin Thompson Architects" 23 Jun 2014. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/517640/wertheim-factory-conversion-kerstin-thompson-architects> ISSN 0719-8884

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