Shortly after that fateful re-zoning of Fishermans Bend in 2012, a for sale sign appeared on the Australian Furniture Timbers building in Plummer St, Port Melbourne.
I could not imagine how such a modest building could survive the lure of its Capital City Zoned development potential. It was unlikely to withstand the rigour of the tests for heritage protection. The twirly window grilles were the only concession to decoration on this plain building.
Somehow the building has survived intact since the 1930s. Between the building and the Yarra River there was nothing much except sand, sand and more sand. Leases were granted for sand extraction which was removed in staggering quantities. Lessees advised the Crown Land department by means of a statutory declaration how much sand had been removed – an inexact and poorly policed system.
The building has taken on a new lease of life as The Timber Yard. It lives on, not so much because of its own attributes, but because of the space that lies behind the Plummer St fence, 6,000 square metres, which has been re-purposed as a flexible event space. Bump in, bump out. The huge spaces can be reconfigured to suit the event. The Timber Yard “is built on the philosophy of recycling, up cycling and bringing people together for amazing events. … The site has been restored remaining true to it’s heritage of second hand timber storage and fabrication.”1
The new Timber Yard lettering and the entry gates were designed and fabricated by Dallas Augustine. (@ranch_cycles)
It’s a regret that the lettering of Australian Furniture Timbers has been painted out in the all pervasive grey/black, as have the decorative grilles,which are now harder to see.
Nevertheless, it is wonderful that the building has been given new life in this rapidly transforming corner of Fishermans Bend.
I was going to say that The Timber Yard is in a public transport black hole but today hospitality workers were making their way to the venue from the Garden City bus stop. This is unlikely to be the way most guests get to the venue.
Another subject for another day. Today, we celebrate the adaptive re-use of the Australian Furniture Timbers building.
Sand is omnipresent in Life on the Bend: A social history of Fishermans Bend prepared for the Fishermans Bend Taskforce by Context, July 2017. There’s a nice cameo piece on the sand used in glass making on pp106/07