Following a six month process that involved the cautious dismantling and repurposing of shed components, the retention works carried out at Melbourne’s Goods Shed No.5 have been completed.

Freyssinet Australia together with Mann Group completed the work for Riverlee, who own the site. The property developer is committed to retaining as many items as possible, in a plan to be a flagship project for the circular economy, which keeps old products and materials in use.

The restoration of the shed will pave the way for the site to be transformed into Seafarers Residences, and Australia’s first 1 Hotel, a world leader in sustainable luxury hotels.

The works saw the salvaging of 1,944 bluestone pavers, 20 timber sliding doors, 40 steel trusses and 105 steel window frames which will be used in the reconstruction of the Goods Shed. Approximately 2km worth of timber purlins, also salvaged, will be repurposed through the new building including in the site’s forthcoming 1 Hotel, likely to be incorporated as feature stairs, wall cladding, lighting fixtures, furniture and hotel bedheads.

Riverlee’s Development Director David Lee says the completion of the retention works are an exemplar in both urban renewal and reversible design, a concept that involves taking apart buildings and reusing their components for a second life.

“We are committed to the preservation of history, building with it rather than over it, and our extensive
heritage retention works at Seafarers is a perfect example of this,” he says.

“Through Seafarers, we are striving to honour the Goods Shed’s historical context while finding a sustainable solution from the salvaged materials, reusing as much as possible.

“The heritage retention works are an excellent example of how we can create a circular economy with our older buildings – eliminating waste and keeping materials in use rather than looking for new alternatives. Given the heritage components, and complexity of putting all the pieces back together, our work really does take reversible design in Melbourne to the next level.

“This process has been far from simple and we commend our engineers, historians and design team who have made it possible to preserve elements of this iconic Melbourne building.”

The next steps will involve further assessment of the retained items to determine origin, species and age before they are weaved into the new Seafarers mixed-use waterfront precinct. The remaining concrete structure of the Goods Shed building on site will be integrated into the future mixed-use building/design.

Emma Russell from HistoryAtWork was engaged by Riverlee to lead the historical studies of the project and to ensure as much of the original story and components of the shed can be retained throughout the new Seafarers development.

“It is exciting and inspiring to work with a property development company so genuinely keen to uncover
the tangible history of their sites and materials, and the social and local history these places have played a role in,” she says.

“Retaining and repurposing the century-old timbers, bluestones and trusses, combined with innovative ways to integrate Seafarers’ social history, ensures the long memory of this fascinating corner of the CBD will be shared with visitors and residents alike in an authentic rather than manufactured manner.”

The site is slated for completion in early 2024. To find out more, head to