Originally the manufacturing base for Henry Jones IXL, the Jam Factory has been a famous landmark of the inner Melbourne urban landscape for more than a hundred years.
Rejuvenated in the 1970’s by Peter McIntyre Architect, it represented a leading example of sensitive urban renewal, celebrating and strategically exposing its industrial heritage. The Jam Factory showcased the retail establishment in the emerging fashion scene of Chapel Street in the 1970’s and 80’s. A decades of recession, the elegance of the steel and brickwork was diminished by a grandiose post-modern overhaul. This belated showcase of late 1980’s excess effectively removed the intrinsic value of the building, where its future had become less than certain.
NH Architecture was commissioned by the building owners (Challenger Limited) to masterplan and design a number of staged interventions, and by the major tenant (Village Roadshow Limited) to design a new head office for their executive team. The rejuvenation of the centre was initiated by the arrival of a major international tenant (TopShop), where a strategy was formed to carefully reveal the existing building fabric and to modestly overlay a reductive palette of black painted steel, zinc and sheet panels. What began as a fast track process to accommodate TopShop, slowly evolved into a process of redemption for the majority of the building, where architect, client and builder jointly managed the transformation within a very tight physical and budget driven context.
A robust and timber clad transformation of the food precinct and entry hall guides the public into the original central space, that awaits an upgrade to the entry to the cinema complex. The trail of timber interventions provides the final link to the carpark structure at the rear of the site.
The existing office tenancy for Village Roadshow has been renovated by their in house design team. From this tenancy, a new boutique rooftop office has been designed by NH Architecture for Villages’ two CEOs. Borrowing the black steel and timber palette from the new Jam Factory aesthetic, the new building sits perched above the heritage brick walls as a private retreat from the hustle and bustle below. The architectural form and interior spaces have been sculpted to focus on the expansive views to the northern suburbs and west to the CBD.
A new life is evolving for the Jam Factory, driven by a careful and responsive tenancy mix and a more respectful public architectural language. An overdue antidote to a more excessive and willful past.