Art Deco Collingwood Yards attracts creatives

“From the start, we didn’t want to damage the precious facade, with its distinctive details,” says Holland, whose presentation to the board was a book compiled with renowned graphic designer Stuart Geddes, who previously occupied a studio adjacent to the Yards. .

The well-protected gravelled courtyard, shaded by the dense plantation of plane trees.Credit:Om Ross

For many architects, the ability to renovate older buildings often comes with new elevators and stairs discreetly placed within the original fabric of the building.

However, in this case, new stairs and elevators have been deliberately placed outside.

The new elevators are built in pale brick similar to those used in the 1930s, treated almost as separate additions.

Likewise, the steel staircases, with their tree-like structural columns, brush against the original brickwork and create their own graphic architectural expression.


“We wanted people to navigate the spaces freely, rather than feeling constrained to follow a direction,” Holland explains.

One of the major decisions made by Fieldwork, and supported by the board and those involved, was not to take the obvious route of creating the end point through the ornate art deco portico of origin.

“We felt it was important to open up the Yards to the wider community, making them as accessible as possible,” says Holland.

The other option, and the one that was chosen, was to locate the main entrance along the western edge of Johnston Street.

This leads directly to the well-protected gravelled courtyard, shaded by the dense plantation of plane trees.

The new entrance, wrapped in stainless steel panels and featuring a bluestone paved pathway, allows for unhindered sightlines.

“Using the original entrance would have led to an empty wall at the back of a building,” Holland explains.

At the center of this new entrance are two brick pillars, part of the original structure and now covered in gold leaf.

“We saw these pillars, like the new elevators and stairs, as sculptural objects, in addition to being functional necessities to make this neighborhood work,” says Holland, pointing to a new paved pathway at the back that also provides a protective basement used in more adverse weather.

Other areas, such as the balconies that surround the studios, have also been opened up with rudimentary glass windows removed.

Collingwood Yards has become an important creative hub for Melbourne.

There are now plenty of amenities including a rooftop bar/garden and studios and galleries to explore – over 50 in total.

The past has also been carefully restored, but instead of posters pasted on the stucco concrete walls, there are framed information sheets about upcoming events.

Even better, he feels entangled in the neighborhood.

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