- Article by Penny Craswell
Over the past three weeks, ADR has been exploring three distinct projects as published in MEZZANINE – the architectural repurposing of a masonic hall, 10 shipping containers, and now an old timber mill. Each show how mixed-use, experiential destinations can help connect local communities. Read part one on Devil’s Corner winery and lookout, and part two on The Sonic, a reuse of a historic Masonic Hall.
Previously a timber mill, and the site of a car mechanic and hardware store, The Mill is a loose amalgamation of buildings that have been turned into a new hub in Bowral’s main street.
With a café at its centre, The Mill also houses a number of retail spaces, studios for designers and other small businesses, and a coworking, meeting and event space. The owners recognised that these old buildings could be reinvented using new methods of engagement, while remaining focused on local values. “We wanted to create a meeting place for locals during the week and a destination for tourists on the weekend,” explains co-founder Matt Holt.
Tina Tziallas and Tony Omeara from local architecture studio Tziallas Omeara, whose office is now within the building, have transformed a selection of run-down industrial buildings into a hip, sleek new space offering a range of different functions. Where possible, the design has made the most of the original structures, while removing more recent ugly additions.
The largest space, at 390 square metres, is dedicated to the café, which boasts a raked roof and original timber trusses, while the old timber store has been converted into three retail stores. The original Timber Mill is now a generous retail space, while another old storage building is the site of five pop-up stores called ‘The Stables’ thanks to their shutters and stable doors.
A series of smaller buildings has been united in a larger structure which is now home to studio spaces for creative professionals or small retail spaces for locally produced goods. “We evolved a concept of the internal city blocks, creating connecting laneways between spaces, and allowing each space to have a frontage to the pedestrian circulation routes,” says Tina Tziallas.
This space is also home to Collab Highlands, a coworking space where professionals have access to a seminar space, wireless internet, printing facilities, and break out spaces, and can feel like they are part of a community.
The resulting space provides a range of functions for a variety of different users, with a strong brand and good architecture bringing people together to create a sense of vibrancy in the local community.
“Projects like The Mill encourage communities to work together. The feeling of community is infectious and benefits the entire town,” says Tziallas.
Photography by Brian Rapsey.