former Grange Lynne Building A'beckett street Melbourne modernism art deco

Facadism Threatens Again At Former Grange Lynne Factory

former Grange Lynne Building A'beckett street Melbourne modernism art deco
The proposed tower at 183 A’Beckett Street

A new development proposal has emerged for the site of the  former Grange Lynne factory at 185 – 187 A’Beckett Street.

former Grange Lynne Building A'beckett street Melbourne modernism art deco
Proposed Tower – Northwest Aspect

former Grange Lynne Building A'beckett street Melbourne modernism art deco
Proposed Tower – Northwest Aspect from Wills Street

While the development proposes retention of the building’s facade, it treats the structure as little more than that, seeking to retain only the front wall and a portion of the side wall abutting the laneway. Furthermore, the new building is set back from the retained wall, leaving it effectively free standing, possibly even without any glass in the windows (this is unclear from the submitted plans), acting merely as a sort of screen to the new construction.

See the slideshow at the bottom of this post for some more gorgeous photos from our friends at the Melbourne Fragments blog. The proposal appears to retain none of the building’s original Deco interior, particularly notable for its staircase.

former Grange Lynne Building A'beckett street Melbourne modernism art deco
Grange Lynne factory today

This place was recommended for a Heritage Overlay control by Melbourne City Council as part of the C186 Amendment in 2012. However, in 2013, this building was one of the nine places that were not approved for inclusion in the amendment by former Planning Minister, Matthew Guy. At the time, the Minister said these nine buildings were put aside ‘for further study’. As the other eight were post-war modernist buildings, the reasons for the inclusion of this site remains a mystery. The strong suspicion is that the Minister may have mixed up the date of the site.

The former Grange Lynne factory was built in 1937-8, with a matching top floor addition in 1944, in a style notably influenced by European Modernism. It is recognised by the City of Melbourne as a B graded structure, and is listed by the National Trust, but has no protection in law.

As the building’s National Trust listing states, it “is one of Melbourne’s finest and most distinctive examples of inter-war factory and office design, exhibiting an unusual mixture of international modernism and the Arts and Crafts based aesthetic of the Amsterdam School of the 1920s.”

“The modernism of the horizontal ‘strip’ windows which wrap around the north corner and their continuous thin concrete sunshades, terminated by vertical fins, are combined with elements derived from the Dutch school such as the dark brown tapestry brickwork, a rounded front to the fin near the entrance, and the vertical stack of porthole windows of the stairwell.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The building’s architect, Edward Fielder Billson, was notable as a former pupil and associate of Walter Burley Griffin, and was one of Victoria’s leading architects in the 1930s. Billson was noted for the strong influence of European modernism in his work.

MHA has submitted a formal objection to the current Planning Minister, Richard Wynne requesting that the originally requested Heritage Overlay now be applied to the building, and seeking a redesign of the proposal to retain more of the original structure, and in a way that represents more than token facadism.

We will keep everyone updated on progress.

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