Urban renewals play a significant role in a city’s urban fabric and planning, and can take on many shapes and forms. Some areas might see the replacement of abandoned buildings with taller and more modern developments, or introduce new transport networks to a neighbourhood. In Melbourne, the Victorian Government recently announced plans to expand its Fishermans Bend development on the Yarra River by including a new ‘Employment Precinct’, making it the largest urban renewal project of its kind in Australia.

If you travel down south to Port Adelaide in South Australia (SA), you will find another recently completed urban renewal project, albeit one that is much smaller than its Melburnian counterpart. The Hart’s Mill Projects is a $2 million precinct redevelopment that is pivotal to the urban regeneration program for Port Adelaide, and one of the projects that was entered into the South Australian Architecture Awards.

Designed by Mulloway Studio and Aspect Studios, the refurbishment focuses on the conservation and re-establishment of spaces as an active part of the Port and the broader metropolitan area. Works zoom in on particular architectural elements, and the final results integrate cultural heritage through interpretive play.

The revitalisation encompasses three overlapping projects, including the redevelopment of spaces around the old mill buildings and the wharf to provide a range of public and event spaces.

Here, a thematic playground is the star; its design both contrasting the historic Hart’s Mill buildings, and simultaneously referencing the numerous port trade activities in the wharf precinct. The latter is achieved through words that have been scattered throughout the play area, acting as ‘tools’ for games but also serving as a reminder of the site’s history.

Together with the playground, the grassed areas and market space form a node at the western end of the main wharf promenade.

“Material selections are reflective of the area’s industrial heritage, with salvaged materials from local harbourside demolitions used in shelters, eating and planters,” says Mulloway Studio.

Timber from the inner harbour wharf and buildings for instance, now find their new home as the frame for the playground shelter. Roof sheeting from the flour shed has also been re-used as internal and external wall cladding.

“All external works were constructed on top of the existing ground surface, with trenching being limited to minimal service runs. This minimised ground disturbance to protect archaeological remains as well as managing contamination issues,” the architects added.

The other two projects are a loop path – a walking and riding trail that loops around the inner harbour offering a multi-layered experience as an external museum, commuter path and recreation trail – and the adaptation of the former sheds of the mill complex into flexible enclosed performance and event venues. These form an ‘urban anchor’, providing the impetus for repeat visitation while activating external spaces.

“As an outcome of an extensive consultation and engagement programme, the projects have a high degree of community ownership, providing long-term security and sustainability,” the team notes in the awards entry.

“Flexibility of possible uses, upgrading to current standards, and provision of plug-in servicing have been key design parameters that will ensure the long-term viability of the space and the ongoing engagement with the built asset.

“The light-touch approach has been driven by both the design team’s approach to adaptive re-use projects and an adherence to the principles of the Burra Charter and best practice in conservation work.”



Felicity Sando, Anthony Coupe, Esther Chew, James Baker, Tim Conybeare, Ben Birdseye, Ying Qian

Mulloway Studio, James Bateman, Hydroplan (irrigation), SMEC (structural and civil consultant – surrounds), Jim Wilson (structural consultant – adaptation works), Lucid (electrical, mechanical and hydraulic consultant), Aspect Studios (landscape consultant), Resonate Acoustics (acoustic consultant), Paul Kloeden (historian), Buildsurv (building surveyor)

Moto Projects (project manager), Cook Building and Development (Flour Shed baseworks), Bruce Interiors and Constructions (Mundy St Façade works), Unique Urban Built (Flour Shed fitout), Smartpost solutions (Loop Path installations), Landscape Construction Services (playground and surrounds)

Renewal SA

Port Adelaide, SA, Australia


$2.1 million

Don Brice