THE former site of the Golden West Aerated Water Company in Leederville has a new lease of life following the official opening of M/Group’s 24th project, M/24, on Saturday.
The Golden West Aerated Water Company was started in 1896 by James John Wallis and produced soft drinks, including ginger beer, lemonade and kola beer.
The Leederville factory in Carr Place opened in the early 1900s.
The building was believed to have been demolished in the 1970s and four factory units were on the site when M/Group purchased it a few years ago.
Managing director Lloyd Clark said they liked to preserve streetscapes and an area’s heritage, so when they discovered the site’s history, it was incorporated into the building’s design.
Designed by Melbourne-based ARM Architecture, M/24 includes a distinctive facade inspired by digital modelling of patterns formed when bubbles intersect.
The patterns, known as Voronoi tessellations, give the impression of a form bubbling out of the site.
The bubble theme has been carried through the interior, including wallpaper in the lobby representing bubbles of cola and intersecting-bubble-shaped lighting in the communal courtyard.
WA artists Bec Juniper and Jon Denaro used vintage soft drink branding as an influence to create circular plates representing bottle caps, and a commemorative plaque on the building recognises Mr Wallis and the Golden West Aerated Water Company.
Descendants of Mr Wallis attended a preview opening of M/24 and great-granddaughter Julie Ryan said it brought memories flooding back.
She and her sister Barb recalled visiting the factory as children and playing in wooden boxes on the rollers that transported the crates of soft drink, “something WorkSafe would never allow now”, she said.
Their father Ronald Wallis worked as a production manager at the company.
After a heart-attack he retired in the mid-1960s and the family lost touch with the business.
A chance visit a few months ago, when another great-granddaughter Lee Guy-Wallis took her father Hal Wallis to see the old site, put them in contact with M/Group.
Ms Ryan said the family was thrilled and overwhelmed the site’s heritage and their family’s involvement was recognised and incorporated into the design.
M/24 is a mixed-use development with four commercial units on the ground floor and 39 one or two-bedroom apartments.
The building’s internal structure creates two distinct living environments, one with an active street-front outlook and another that is more relaxed overlooking the linear communal area with views towards the city skyline.
Mr Clark said the unique concept and tribute to history had attracted a lot of attention from the community and indicated a thirst for edgy product that enhanced the streetscape and told a story.
“M/24 demonstrates that investing in a good architect can pay dividends in a market that responds to unique product,” he said.
Mr Clark said 70 per cent of the apartments had sold off the plan and about half of the purchasers were owner-occupiers.
A number of apartments remain for sale, with prices starting from $420,000 for a one-bedroom home.
Visit m24apartments.com for more information. n