Design files: How the spirit of Alphington's old paper mill site lives on in new development

Ever since the Amcor paper mills at Alphington ceased production, there's been excited chatter in the northern community. What would the 17-hectare site become?

If there's one thing residents, councillors and heritage experts agreed on, it was that industrial elements shape any future development. This has remained a top priority for DKO architects Raymond Mah and Koos de Keijzer, who are overseeing the design of The Mills.

"The papermill has incredible aesthetic value, there are bits that are quite beautiful," de Keijzer says.

"We're reinterpreting the spirit of the old papermill as a contemporary industrial aesthetic and it's really important for us to create an authentic suburb that does relate to the traces of history, but also really connects to its immediate context."

The 19-townhouses that make up The Mills are just one piece of the jigsaw puzzle that forms YarraBend. The mini-suburb will become home to 4000 residents in up to 2000 new houses, townhouses and apartments.

Nods to the site's industrial heritage will be found in the zig-zag shapes of the sawtooth roofs and the predominant use of brickwork and metal. Robust finishings in the interiors, including steel mesh on the staircase balustrades, ensure the theme continues from the exteriors.

Linking new buildings to the old with real authenticity is key to the industrial look and feel of The Mills, says Mah.

"It's about not reproducing forms that are not authentic that look like industrial buildings for no reason," he says.

Alphington resident Karen Kellard kept her ear to the ground when news of the papermill redevelopment emerged. After checking out YarraBend's facilities, she decided to purchase a three-bedroom apartment at Parkview not far from The Mills.

"There was a lot of talk about it in the neighbourhood and everyone was keen to see what was coming," she says.

"I was looking to stay in Alphington and the lifestyle it was offering - all the amenity close to the parklands - really appealed to me.

"But if I'm completely honest, the rooftop pool was probably one of the key things!"

YarraBend has almost 300-metres frontage to the Yarra River, so its green spaces will prove to be a vital connection for residents. The Mills will incorporate laneways and paths that link to the Yarra and surrounding parkland.

The Mills will be near YarraBend's health and wellness centre and artisan food precinct.

At a glance

Architect: DKO

Developer: Glenvill

Interior design: DKO

Number of townhouses: 19; 11 two-bed, 8 three-bed.

Internal sizes (square metres): 128.8-188.2

External areas (square metres): 46.1-86.1

Prices: From $875,000

Car parking: 1-2 car spaces each.

Completion: Mid 2020

Agent: Glenvill, Malinda Martin 9573 8320

Open for inspection: Mon-Fri 12pm-5pm, Sat and Sunday 11am-5pm.

This story Design files: How the spirit of Alphington's old paper mill site lives on in new development first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.