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Mutual Store and Empire Apartments
by ClarkeHopkinsClarke Architects

    

IN THE ARCHITECTS WORDS

The Mutual Stores and Empire Building stand side by side on the corner of Flinders and Degraves Streets, opposite Flinders Street Station. Designed by Reed, Smart and Tappin the Mutual Stores were constructed in 1891, while the Empire Building, designed by Nahum Barnet was constructed in 1905. The two former department stores accommodated a variety of activities and under went many alterations including the creation of connections through the party wall, reconfiguration of entries and internal circulation and the addition of ‘modern' canopies. When the project was initiated in 2001 the street frontages of both buildings were largely obscured from public view. This redevelopment required the balancing of heritage guidelines, commercial imperatives and the City of Melbourne's Planning Scheme. Council required the retention of the street canopies to Flinders Street to provide continuous street shelter for pedestrians and required an active edge to both Flinders and Degraves Streets. The Mutual Stores has been redeveloped to create 70 apartments above street level retail tenancies and basement carpark. An early top floor addition was removed and two new floors were constructed, set back behind the original pediment. The original circular window in the pediment is a key feature of the penthouse apartment. Nine new shops were inserted along the eastern side of the building, creating a new active edge and enabling further development of the retail and café precinct along Degraves Street. The works to the Mutual Stores included removing the 1970's facade additions to reveal the original arch
 
 

entry features and the articulated brick facade. The Flinders Street facades were cleaned to remove accumulated layers of paint and grime and re-tuckpointed. Significant restoration work was undertaken to the facade mouldings and pediment including the iconic Britannia figure mounted on the central plinth. Sections of the original terracotta plank floors, an early 20th century fireproofing system, were replaced to allow for contemporary services. The Empire Building redevelopment involved the removal of the rear section of the building and the construction of 14 new floors. The additional floors have been set back from the street and have a strong vertical rhythm sympathising with the verticality and heritage character of the original building. The new addition is characterised by an articulation of setbacks, massing and materials. A contrasting external colour scheme was selected for the Empire Building. For many years the two facades had been treated as one - now the individual character of each can be appreciated. Like the Mutual Stores, there are new retail tenancies at street level in the Empire Building to further develop the active edge promoted by the Council Planning Scheme. The Empire Apartments comprises 306 studio, one and two bedroom student apartments as well as communal facilities including lounge, laundry and shared terraces. The terraces are located behind the original facade and provide residents with an opportunity to experience Melbourne from a new perspective. All retail tenancies are fully let and the Mutual Store and Empire apartments are fully occupied.
 
DETAILS

Location
Melbourne, VIC
Architect
ClarkeHopkinsClarke Architects
Contact address:
ClarkeHopkinsClarke Architects
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.Project Team
Project architect: Wayne Stephens
Project architect: Wayne Stephens
Design architect: Robert Goodliffe
Design architect: Dean Landy
Design architect: Les Clarke
Design architect: Robert Goodliffe
Design architect: Dean Landy
Design architect: Les Clarke
Developer: Baycrown Pty Ltd
Structural consultant: Taylor Thompson Whitting Pty Ltd
Civil consultant: Taylor Thompson Whitting Pty Ltd
Electrical consultant: Wood and Grieve Engineers Pty Ltd
Mechanical consultant: Wood and Grieve Engineers Pty Ltd
Hydraulic consultant: Steve Paul and Partners Pty Ltd
Acoustic consultant: Bassett Consulting Engineers
Builder: Abigroup Pty Ltd
Documentation - Draftspersonn: Sam Grande
Documentation - Draftsperson: Tim Hargreaves
Documentation - Architect: Catherine Muhlebach
Documentation - Draftsperson: Karin Stockinger
Documentation - Draftspersonn: Sam Grande
Documentation - Draftsperson: Tim Hargreaves
Documentation - Architect: Catherine Muhlebach
Documentation - Draftsperson: Karin Stockinger
Town Planner: Fulcrum Town Planners
Fire Engineering: Steve Paul and Partners Pty Ltd
Photographer: Abigroup
Photographer: Wayne Stephens
Heritage consultant: Lovell Chen Pty Ltd
Building surveyor: Thomas Nicholas
Entered
2008


Photographs by Abigroup & Wayne Stephens, text by ClarkeHopkinsClarke Architects

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