Converted warehouse residents have become synonymous with the inner-city hipster. But the practical benefits inherent in these spaces – such as high ceilings and large floorplans – far exceeds any one sub-cultural group.

This was the case for Zen Architects’ Up-Cycled Warehouse project, a conversion of a 1960s warehouse in the Melbourne suburb of Richmond. Completed in 2013, the project retained and reused as much of the existing building as possible. The result was a two-level family home that is high on energy efficiency.

In addition to the building envelope being retained, originals elements – including light fittings, sprinkler pipes, doors, cladding and roof sheeting – were reused. The existing warehouse floor slab was also kept.


But not all the features of the warehouse were family-friendly enough to make the final cut. A north-facing courtyard had to be added, which maximises sunlight and heat during winter in an otherwise poorly oriented building. Other sustainability features include energy-efficient fluorescent and LED lights, solar hot water, water harvesting, and Hydronic panel heating with a high efficiency condensing boiler.


Zen Architects added a series of high-level louvres that facilitate cross-ventilation, and a raised timber deck that links the living areas with the courtyard. Mezzanine rooms have been placed to ‘float’ within the original volume and structure of the warehouse.


While Up-Cycled Warehouse maintains the industrial feel of its original form, the use of yellows and blues in the kitchen – as well as the inclusion of vegetation throughout the dwelling – have been used to create an environment better suited to an inner-city family home.