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An Icon Restored: The Lachlan Macquarie Award for Heritage

2019 National Architecture Awards

The Lachlan Macquarie Award for Heritage

Half a century after Fred Piesse built the Premier Flour Mill, he repurposed its beating-basement-heart of cogs, pulleys and drives to house his ever expanding wine, aerated waters and cordials business. This was the first such repurposing, but not the last.

Fast forward to 2016 and the Mill building was unfortunately in a state of complete disrepair. Together with a like-minded team, it was then that we embarked upon what turned out to be the Mill’s most significant and consuming repurposing.

Briefed to resurrect and transform an important remnant of Katanning’s agricultural/industrial past, and to position it as a hotel that celebrates and advances tourism in the Great Southern region of Western Australia, Spaceagency Architects has redefined the meaning of a heritage project. The historic hardware (machines, belts, cables, shafts and conveyors) of the flour mill remain in situ, with the hotel rooms, corridors, circulation areas and stairs inserted into the mill’s carcass in such a way as to retain an appreciation of the building’s original purpose. This is a master achievement, born of intelligence and attention”.


Details of the full team of curators and collaborators:

  1. Builder: Masterbuild Constructions
  2. Building Surveyor: Resolve Group
  3. Engineer: Peritas Group, Maitland Heritage Engineering
  4. Heritage Consultant: Hocking Heritage Studio
  5. Project Manager: Dome Developments

The Premier Mill Hotel is a celebration of the rich fabric of the existing building. Formerly a flourmill it was an ingenious industrial invention of its time. It had become obsolete and the building slipped into disrepair; a similar fate suffered by many handsome heritage buildings of the wheat belt towns dating back to the prosperous gold rush era. In response to our client’s bold vision for tourism in the region we embraced the challenge of re-imaging the mill as a 22-room hotel including lobby, common areas, a café and basement bar retaining, exposing and expressing the industrial texture throughout. The result is a magical story of the building’s past, present and future made of layers of times past and times to come, it offers a new vision of the region for locals and visitors alike.

Michael Patroni, Architect, spaceagency