Anzac Bridge In Pyrmont Complete

Market Insights
8 years ago
4 minutes

Millions of Anzac Bridge commuters have watched the painstaking progress of Harbour Mill at Pyrmont as it intricately weaves modern apartments within the remnant facade of the Edwin Davey Flour Mill, which was built in 1896. 

Reinvigorating the local landmark on the edge of the Western Distributor – one of Sydney’s busiest expressways – has been a three-year labour of love for the developer, Edward Doueihi, the founder of Ceerose.

Preserving the mill’s proud history was a priority because of a family connection. His father ran a bakery in Cowper Street, Granville, and he’d often take the young Eddie to the mill to collect supplies.

“I’ve been emotionally attached to the mill since my childhood so I’ve harboured a dream to build something on that site which reflects my fond memories.”

For many years it seemed those memories would never be rekindled. A fire in 1996 gutted the mill, leaving a crumbling corner of the façade that attracted the attention of graffiti artists – and the National Trust. 

The then owner wanted to clear the site, and he lodged plans to erect a multi-level commercial building. A successful campaign was mounted to have the façade heritage listed, and the City of Sydney Council subsequently refused his Development Application.

“That was the opportunity I was looking for,” Mr Doueihi said. “I bought the site and invited some of this city’s finest architects to take part in a design competition. An integral aspect of the brief was that any new structure had to be integrated with the remnant façade.”

Acclaimed international firm Grimshaw Architects won the competition with an unique solution that pays tribute to the mill’s heritage whilst being underpinned by principles of humane, enduring and sustainable design.

Harbour Mill comprises two interconnected buildings – a four-storey structure which sits within the heritage facade, and a 10-storey structure which ‘steps up and over’ it.

The buildings are configured around a series of interlinked and interlocked atriums and voids that provide light, air and an uplifting sense of ‘theatre’. A central glass atrium focuses natural light into the heart of the building and radiates throughout each floor – an important shift away from the usual artificially-lit corridors and lobbies.

The new structure resembles a series of large sliding panels in a checkerboard pattern which reference the look of original warehouses of the area. Black bricks have been used for external walls and the public domain, adding to the development’s solid and sophisticated appearance.

Each of the 136 apartments at Harbour Mill has a deck and a sliding glass door onto a maisonette balcony which, when opened, creates cross-flow ventilation. Some of these balconies are set back behind the restored mill walls, giving occupants a sense of history as they look out through the heritage windows north to Blackwattle Bay, east to the city and west across Wentworth Park.

Special acoustic attention has been given to those apartments closest to the freeway, with double-layered glass between dual windows, and sliding louvre screens to ensure whisper-quiet interiors.

Subtle references about the mill’s history have been woven into the development, such as the 19th Century styling of the bracing struts that reinforce the old façade.

“Blending the old with the new has given us an architectural point of difference over most other residential developments,” said Mr Doueihi. “We have restored the mill’s weighbridge, scales and capstan and we pay further tribute to its history by displaying photos and storyboards, and by integrating public art into our heritage interpretation strategy.” 

As part of the development, Ceerose has opened up access to the public by building flights of stairs between Jones Street and the Wentworth Park Light Rail Station. To aid cyclists, ramps on each edge of the broad steps allow riders to walk with their bikes. 

All apartments at Harbour Mill sold off-the-plan in 2013, with residents now enjoying their new abode. The development has already been nominated for a number of building and architectural awards, and follows on from Ceerose’s eye-catching Eliza in Elizabeth Street which won the 2015 Urban Taskforce Design Excellence Award.