Culture and heritage

An act of love: HER transforms a heritage laneway

25 July 2022

Explore four floors of food, drink, music and art at a mega venue lovingly woven into the fabric of a heritage building on the corner of Lonsdale Street and Drewery Lane.

HER Melbourne has breathed new life into a Federation warehouse built in the early 1900s, in a development that epitomises the good design and heritage protection outcomes required by our new planning controls.

Georgie Larkins from HQ Group, which owns HER, said the top-to-toe transformation has charged Drewery Lane with new energy.

‘Transforming this heritage building, for us, was an act of love,’ Georgie said.

‘It’s the gorgeous architectural features and the history of the building that makes HER so special. Linking these features with new careful design has created a space that is truly unique to the site.

‘The building’s once vibrant energy has been restored to a place of creativity – that energy can be felt the minute you step inside.’

An elegant, dimly-lit bar

HER Bar on the ground floor offers all-day dining

Patrons are flocking to HER to sip cocktails in leather banquettes, indulge on steak and pomme frites, feast on Thai-style BBQ by a roaring fire, bliss out to curated tunes, and celebrate on the rooftop under constellations.

Whatever they choose, the experience is enhanced by stories from times past.

‘The building has a curious history,’ Georgie said.

‘It has a key connection to the Heidelberg school of painters, and it was even the scene of a jewellery heist.

‘In its earliest incarnation, the building housed the Sniders & Abrahams cigarette factory. In the company’s heyday, 600 women worked here to roll the cigarettes by hand, before they succumbed to machine efficiency.

‘The building has also been a home for businesses including typewriter makers, paper merchants, lighting manufacturers and a fur seller, to name a few.’

A table of gourmet food with people gathered around

Head to level three for Thai food at BKK

The sensitive design of HER includes carefully considered nods to the building’s colourful history, and it seeks to preserve and deepen the cultural significance of the place for generations to come.

‘Guests can connect to stories from the building’s past through the tobacco air scent in the Music Room, the tiled ceramic art mural on the rooftop, and the rugged character of the exposed Federation brickwork,’ Georgie said.

‘HER is the next chapter in the building’s rich history, adding another layer to Melbourne’s rich cultural fabric through design, art and hospitality.’

An art-deco styled rooftop bar with mosaic-tiled walls

Sip a cocktail on the rooftop

Top tips for preserving built heritage

Heritage buildings and laneways are an important part of Melbourne’s character.

We are protecting and enhancing heritage places through new planning controls and policies that stop inappropriate and low-quality development.

The controls ensure that heritage fabric is retained in new development and that designs reflect the unique cultural values of each place or precinct, as outlined in its statement of significance.

This paves the way for more creative and high-quality architecture to enrich our streetscapes.

Here are some top tips from our design guides about changes to heritage places:

1. demolition is not permitted, and adaptive reuse is encouraged.

2. a building’s three-dimensional form should be maintained; facadism is discouraged

3. development should respect the scale, mass, form, style, architectural expression, materials, setback and orientation of the heritage place

4. new additions should be setback so as not to visually dominate or disrupt appreciation of the building from the street

5. in laneways, new walls must meet mandatory height limits to maintain the character of the streetscape

6. new additions should be distinguishable from the original fabric of the building

7. changes should not adversely impact Aboriginal cultural heritage values

8. restoration and reconstruction work should be based on evidence

9. waste, loading and parking facilities must occupy less than 40 per cent of the ground floor area

10. solar panels, water storage tanks and other greening features are permitted on any visible part of the building when there is no feasible alternative

11. existing signage with heritage value should be retained, and not altered or obscured, including historic painted signage or ‘ghost signs’, while new signage should be respectful and removable.

To read about these guidelines in more detail, visit Heritage Design Guide and Central City Design Guide.

Keep in touch with HER Melbourne on social media to be first in-the-know about special events, new menu items and news.

You can also subscribe to our What’s On Melbourne newsletter for weekly updates on more things to see, do and eat across the city.

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