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When industrial heritage creates a new community

When industrial heritage creates a new community

It has been more than 40 years since the kilns were fired one final time and the last bricks, colloquially known as the ‘Canberra Reds’, were manufactured on site in Yarralumla. Finally, a new chapter of the Brickworks’ story is about to begin. A revitalised heritage precinct that is including refurbished kilns and the former Quarry and Railway Remnants as public parklands is now on the horizon as a place to visit or call home.

In operation between 1915 and 1976, the Brickworks was the city’s first industrial manufacturing facility for the bricks used in the construction of early Canberra. From 1923 to 1927, the railway transported these bricks for the construction of many prominent buildings such as Old Parliament House, Hotel Canberra, East Block and Hotel Kurrajong. Today the Brickworks, its Quarry and Railway Remnants provide a window into Canberra’s industrial and social history, although the heritage site is currently fenced off and due to neglect no longer safe to use.

Detailed conservation works and design development are currently underway after a two-stage public tender process was undertaken by the Suburban Land Agency. Local developer DOMA Group’s submission was selected due to its innovative design and adaptive re-use concept for the restoration and revitalisation of the heritage precinct. “The Brickworks site is an important piece of Canberra’s history,” DOMA’s Managing Director Jure Domazet said. “Our master plan preserves and respects the site’s heritage, while opening it up to the Canberra community once again.” The future design of the heritage core and surrounding new development is led by architecture firm SJB together with landscape architects McGregor-Coxall. The revitalised heritage core with the former kilns will house boutique-style commercial uses, including food and beverage outlets and wellness facilities that showcase the site’s history. Nestled within tranquil parkland surrounds of the Quarry and Railway Remnants will be 380 new dwellings with a mix of stand-alone houses, townhouses and low-rise apartments that will grow Yarralumla’s existing suburban community without losing its landscape character and historic charm. All new development will be certified as 5 Star Green Star Community.

“The redevelopment of the Canberra Brickworks Precinct is an iconic opportunity to engage in placemaking and storytelling to bring this much-loved precinct to life again,” says John Dietz, CEO of the Suburban Land Agency. The Agency has been working with a project-specific community panel since late 2015 to establish the Precinct Objectives and place vision for the 16-ha historic site. They are now collaborating with DOMA to ensure this vision comes to life. “In this case, new development and adaptive re-use go hand in hand and will restore and unlock one of our few industrial heritage precincts for the wider community to enjoy,” John Dietz says. The redevelopment of the Brickworks is anticipated to be completed within the next five years.

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