Over the next 30 years, a massive 480 hectares of industrial land in the heart of Melbourne, Fishermans Bend, will be transformed into a new inner-city precinct filled with homes, shops, restaurants, parklands, community centres and educational facilities. And one of the first retail developments kicking off the area’s catalytic transformation will be Woolworths’ new neighbourhood centre.
Located within the Wirraway precinct of Fishermans Bend (a predominantly family-friendly inner-city neighbourhood close to the bay and Wesgate Park), Woolworths is set to be a thriving retail destination in one of Melbourne’s edgiest new neighbourhoods. Transforming an existing 13,500m² warehouse, the reimagined industrial building contains a Woolworths supermarket, a Dan Murphy’s store, and a number of eateries. The retail centre also features a dynamic food truck zone, creating a vibrant and festive environment which brings Melbourne’s buzzing street food culture into the newly developed precinct.
This neighbourhood centre is perfectly positioned opposite the expansive JL Murphy Reserve, which locals use for sporting events and recreational activities. It’s also in close proximity to both the Port Melbourne primary school and the soon to be opened Fishermans Bend Secondary School. As one of the first retail developments within the Wirraway Precinct, the vibrant, welcoming community feel of the retail centre, complete with cafes, food trucks and other community activations, breathes a new life into what was once a dominant industrial zone, setting the scene for future redevelopments to follow.
In a completely unique concept for an Australian supermarket, Woolworths Fishermans Bend is an adaptive reuse of an existing warehouse, inserting a cutting-edge retail neighbourhood centre into an industrial setting. Designed to spark a change in the surrounding urban landscape, the building needed to be warm and inviting to encourage families and locals to want to use the new space; so these design aspects have been carefully curated to enhance the customer experience.
Considering the overarching narrative of the area, the architecture of Woolworths Fishermans Bend celebrates the raw, industrial, materiality of the old warehouse in order to reveal glimpses of the building’s past. Because of this, the existing metal-clad warehouse shed was kept rather than demolished. The original building was adapted for re-use by stripping and peeling pieces of the existing shed to reveal the new neighbourhood centre within; an under-cover car park, supermarket, cafes and food court areas.
The entire retail centre was designed in a way that fit snugly underneath the existing warehouse roof, which not only tells the story of the history of the site, but also offers a beautifully raw aesthetic not found in a traditional neighbourhood centre design. An openness was also included to the design, allowing the inside out and the outside in, with the intention of providing an inviting, welcoming feel. Adding an active, food truck frontage to the main façade extends this deliberate desire to engage the immediate external environment and capitalise on the connectivity of the site with the playing fields across the road.
By 2050, Fishermans Bend will be home to approximately 80,000 residents and provide employment for up to 80,000 people. This significant urban renewal project will assist in transforming what has previously been a dormant corner of Melbourne, hidden within plain sight, into a bustling, inner-city neighbourhood. Hopefully, over the next 30-year timeline, this precinct, which stretches from the City of Melbourne to the City of Port Phillip, will completely change the city of Melbourne.
Woolworths Fishermans Bend will stand proudly at the forefront of this transformation, enticing the first wave of visitors into the previously industrial landscape. As more shops, workplaces and residential apartments are added to the precinct, and Fishermans Bend becomes a destination unto itself, Woolworths Fishermans Bend will, for the time being, become the heartbeat of Wirraway; a place where communities come to shop, eat, and catch up with friends and family for many years to come.