Laying a case for brickworks

Glimpsed from the road and partly obscured by fences aimed at keeping vandals out, the former Maylands Brickworks may look to the untrained eye like just another obsolete building, the kilns that once burned long since overtaken by superior technology.

But beneath 86 years of accumulated dirt, wear and grime, the building represents a rare slice of WA history and after years of little progress efforts to preserve it have begun in earnest.

Ultimately there are hopes it will be developed for a new purpose and a new generation, which could mean anything from a public performance space to a restaurant and small bar complex or residential apartments in the vein of Sydney's former Brookvale Brickworks.

The City of Bayswater has adopted a draft conservation management plan aimed at restoring and repairing parts of the building that have fallen into disrepair and testing to confirm it is structurally sound has begun.

To go much further, the city would likely need a commercial partner to help fund what would be a multimillion-dollar project.

Bayswater Mayor Terry Kenyon said the council was looking "seriously" as development options.

"We've got to use it we can't just leave it there," he said, adding that his personal preference was for a restaurant.

Mr Kenyon pointed to the restoration of the nearby Peninsula Hotel as a good example of the city partnering with private enterprise.

There, he said, Dome Coffee spent about $2 million in return for significant rent exemptions.

One of the authors of the management plan, Palassis Architects' Janine Symons, said she hoped the site would be developed in such a way as to leave it open to the public.

Picture: Nic Ellis/The West Australian

"It's important partly because of its history and its rarity," she said.

The plan she put to the council outlined local and international examples of adaptive re-use projects where historically significant buildings have been transformed.

They included a former coastal defence tower in Suffolk that has since become a spectacular private residence, a slaughterhouse-turned-bar in Brisbane and the former railway workshops in Midland, now a medical clinic.

The Maylands Brickworks operated from 1927 to 1982 and is the only remaining Hoffman Kiln in WA and one of just four in Australia.

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