Studio Nine, Richmond VIC
Studio Nine, Richmond VIC

Quick Facts


Richmond VIC

Structural engineer:

Robert Bird Group (apartment buildings), Structural Works (townhouses)


Byrne Construction Systems (apartment buildings), Glenvill Homes (townhouses)


Medium to high-density residential


Hayball (masterplanning of overall development and design of second and subsequent stages)


Lend Lease (apartment buildings), Glenvill Homes (townhouses)


Lend Lease


Michael Laurie, Mike Scully

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Studio Nine, Richmond VIC
Studio Nine Townhouses

In the 1960s,“22 Bendigo Street, Richmond”was probably the best known address in Australia. It was the Melbourne home of the Channel Nine television network and more particularly of In Melbourne Tonight, a phenomenally successful variety show fronted by the legendary Graham Kennedy.

IMT, as it was popularly known across Australia, had a following today’s television programmers can only dream of.The nightly program had a 16-piece studio orchestra, as well as a 14-member ballet and a chorus!

In the four decades from the Melbourne Olympics in 1956, Channel Nine dominated Australian television, due in no small part to the constant stream of programming emanating from a ramshackle collection of industrial buildings surrounding a former piano factory in inner-city Richmond.

Following masterplanning by Hayball, the old industrial buildings were cleared from the three hectare site, with the exception of the Wertheim Piano Factory, a red brick building designed by the prolific Melbourneborn architect Nahum Barnet and opened by Prime Minister Alfred Deakin in 1909.

Stage Two of the redevelopment of Melbourne’s former Channel Nine site is ready for its close-up.

Its iconic status, elaborate brickwork detailing and solid construction made this handsome building an ideal candidate for repurposing into 34 luxury apartments.This was Stage One of the project, completed in mid-2013. Kerstin Thompson Architecture was responsible for this redesign.

The rest of the site is in the process of being populated with a mixture of apartment buildings and townhouses, providing accommodation for a diversity of households and allowing what has been an enclosed industrial site for over a century to embrace the neighbourhood and be embraced in return. Hayball is responsible for the architecture of the subsequent stages.

Stage Two of the project was recently completed with the opening of five medium-to-high-density apartment buildings surrounding Wertheim Square and bounded on two street frontages by 27 townhouses.Another 10 townhouses will be built in the same bricks in Stage Three and a further 20 are anticipated in a future stage.

“The townhouses provide a reference and a scale to the cottages in Stawell Street and Wertheim Street, and to Richmond generally,” says Hayball director Rob Stent.Thomas Gilbert leads the project team comprising Luc Baldi, Helen Cheng, Bianca Hung and Ann Lau.

“We sought to imbue the project with the fine scale of small cottages in the local streetscape,” Stent adds.This drove the team to seek a common palette of materials to give the townhouses “a sense of composure and a sense of order within a diverse architectural form.”

In effect, the townhouses’ brickwork, although the dominant facade material, becomes a backdrop, allowing the facade articulation, diversity of heights, and balcony and roof forms to come to the fore, highlighted by secondary details such as doors, letterboxes, pelmets and climbing plants.

“We played with the form rather than making it overtly colourful,” says Stent who contends that this gives “a cinematic quality with the scenes revealing themselves as you walk along the street.”

The bricks chosen for the townhouses are from Austral Bricks Elements series.These are very non-traditional units, finished in a low-sheen, metallic glaze, which put paid to the notion that bricks only come in red, cream or brown.

Studio Nine, Richmond VIC
Studio Nine by Hayball

Hayball’s design team worked closely with Austral staff at The Brick Studio, conveniently located in Swan Street just around the corner from the Studio Nine site.Two colours were chosen: Zinc, the darker main colour, accented by the lighter Mercury.

The Elements Zinc brickwork sits neatly with the zinc roofing and upper-level features.The colour also draws on the local heritage of quarrying basalt (bluestone) for use as a building material.There was a small pit, long-forgotten, on the Studio Nine site.

Townhouse accommodation varies from one to three bedrooms over two or three levels.All have one- or two-car garages accessible from rear lanes and allowing direct entry into the house.All townhouses are sold on a freehold basis.

A very different brick was chosen to clad the four-storey apartment building at 10 Jago Street, on the corner of Kennedy Avenue. Stent calls this a “highlight building.We wanted to distinguish it because of its prominent engagement with the existing public street.”

They chose Bowral Bricks Charolais Cream, a premium quality dry-pressed clay brick, to give the building its distinct character.“We chose Charolais Cream as a means to highlight the masonry qualities that you can find in brickwork,” says Stent pointing to the use of inset balconies and other incisions. He believes the resulting tension between void and mass gives the building “a muscular quality.”

Studio Nine, Richmond VIC
Studio Nine - Austral Bricks Elements

Whereas the townhouses use conventional residential construction – brick veneer to timber framing – this apartment building employs concrete columns and floors with some precast walling.The brickwork is largely carried on shelf angles although the canted brickwork on the southern face is supported on a steel frame.

For Hayball, this project began in 2009 with due diligence and masterplanning for Lend Lease and has been a long haul culminating in the completion of Stage Two in mid-2014. But there’s no intermission for the design team who are busily working on Stage Three of the project which isn’t expected to be complete for several years.

In a century and a half, Richmond has gone from being an aspirational suburb (Dame Nellie Melba was born near the Studio Nine site) to a working class industrial area with larger-than-life characters such as the notorious criminal “Squizzy”Taylor and Aussie Rules legend Jack Dyer aka “Captain Blood”.

The cycle has now turned again.While this inner suburb is well and truly down the path to gentrification, the Studio Nine project is still celebrating Richmond’s past while embracing a bold new future.


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