For many years, the W.D. and H.O Wills Warehouse was an almost forgotten inner-city building, its stunning architecture masked from top to bottom in charcoal grey paint.
Built as an office and warehouse for tobacco company W.D. & H.O. Wills in 1927, it is one of Western Australia’s few surviving examples of the interwar Chicagoesque style of architecture.
The three storey reinforced concrete, brick and steel structure was innovative for its time, with mushroom top columns eliminating the need for structural beams.
Over the years, it had been a storage facility, roller skating rink, disco and even a car park before it fell into disrepair.
However its size and prime location on a busy central city intersection (Murray and Milligan streets) made it an ideal candidate for adaptation into a mixed-used development.
Now called HOME, it was adapted into three commercial suites and 30 apartments including six penthouses. A new building next door added another two commercial suites, 37 apartments and 13 loft apartments.
Works included retention and repair of the façade, original floor plates, intricate columns, staircase and cast iron balustrade.
The significant cast iron balustrade was carefully raised in height to comply with building codes and the staircase treads were clad with European Oak to be sympathetic to the original design. A new passenger lift was inserted into the original location of the goods lift, and a fire-engineered solution was negotiated with authorities to allow for the original fire station to be continued to be used.
Apartment layouts were carefully planned within the existing building envelope with no changes to the form of the original building. Three whole new floors were also added to a design that works with the proportions and rhythm of the building below.
This beautiful building was rescued from a derelict and fragile state and transformed into a cultural asset.
The project has re-energised the local area, with the resulting increase in population serving as a catalyst to local small businesses including cafes, restaurants and amenities.
Read more about W.D. & H.O Wills Warehouse by downloading the Register Entry and Assessment Documentation
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