Fujitsu’s HVAC solutions meet the aesthetic goals of adaptive reuse development


The sensitive restoration of the iconic Yorkshire Brewery into a development of apartments and townhouses also saw the installation of HVAC solutions that met the aesthetic aspirations of the adaptive reuse project.


Located in the northern suburb of Collingwood – the center of Victoria’s brewing industry for over a century – Yorkshire Brewery was founded by John Wood in 1858 on a two-acre site on Wellington Street.

Wood originally operated from a wooden building before his son James – an engineer and architect – drew up plans for the site, including the brick tower in 1875. A year later the first stone was laid and the site soon included the tower, a cellar, stables for over 20 horses and a 205 foot high chimney. In 1888, at the Melbourne Exhibition, the brewery won awards for its beer and port, and it would become one of Melbourne’s largest brewing companies.

Its ownership changed over the following years before Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) bought it in 1909 as a backup factory for the nearby Victoria Brewery.

In 1954 the brewery was adapted to become the Yorkshire Malthouse with large silos erected on the site. Then, in the late 1980s, the site was recognized for its historical significance, which led to a classification by the National Trust in 1990.

After CUB sold the site, it sat unoccupied and derelict until it was finally redeveloped in 2014 to create 336 apartments and another 20 townhouses.

SMA Project’s Yorkshire Brewery development has not only renewed the site to make better use of its much sought-after location, but has also provided sensitive restoration of the historic buildings to protect them for decades to come.


Developed by SMA Projects, the Yorkshire Brewery project was designed by local architectural firm Hayball, with Icon Constructions engaged as the main contractor. Hayball’s architectural approach was rooted in historic restoration and adaptive site reuse, “combined with exceptional quality of design, residential amenities and open public spaces”.

Construction on the Yorkshire Brewery site began in 2013, with the development incorporating a mix of residential housing.

The historic brewing tower comprises 5 loft-style apartments spread over eight levels. Three new apartment buildings have been added to the site – The Mill, The Yorkshire and The Silos – the latter two offering 278 apartments over 17 and 14 levels respectively.

In April 2014, local HVAC contractor Rival Air received a mandate from Icon Constructions to design and install quality air conditioning and mechanical services solutions based on the design of consulting engineer, Lucid Consulting.

“We have been engaged to prepare a price based on a D&C (design and build) contract,” says Rival Air managing director Andrew Stewart.

As such, Rival Air has reworked the original HVAC design to achieve efficient sizing and product selection.

This led to the selection of split systems from Fujitsu’s popular Inverter range which provide apartments with energy efficient heating and cooling, whilst meeting the aesthetic ambitions of the development.

Most apartments in new buildings are air conditioned by wall units served by balcony mounted condensers. But where owners chose to switch to a multiple system at the time of purchase, Fujitsu’s range of compact outdoor units also met the exterior aesthetic aspirations of the project.

“Fujitsu’s balcony-mounted condensers offer a very compact multi-system,” says Stewart. “Normally in a multi, it’s a double fan and therefore a superior unit. But Fujitsu has developed a low profile unit specifically for balcony mounting so that it does not exceed the height of a balcony.

“In fact, all of Fujitsu’s balcony-mounted units are very compact and quiet, so for us this was a very easy selection.”

The ground floor of the Brew Tower is conditioned by a 12.1 kW Fujitsu J-IIS system. This model was selected for its compact profile, high seasonal efficiency and flexible piping design that allows for a total refrigerant piping length of up to 80m. As a result, the outdoor unit serving the space is located in the technical room in the basement.

Green Star Performance

Naturally, the project’s environmental aspirations, including the 5-star Green Star target, were also in mind during Rival Air’s product selection process.

The Fujitsu models used throughout the Yorkshire Brewery project include a number of product features to deliver energy efficient performance, such as DC twin rotary compressor technology, DC inverter control and DC fan motor technology.

The indoor units also offer “silent” operation with an airflow mode that can be set in four stages, with more settings possible.

But it was another feature that cemented Rival Air’s selection decision. “Being a Green Star project, one of the reasons for selecting the Fujitsu models was their human sensor technology,” explains Stewart. Human Sensor technology detects movement in the room, reducing energy consumption by entering power saving mode when no movement is detected in the room after 20 minutes.

The decision to select the Fujitsu range has also been made easier due to the long hoses the products accept.

This was particularly important when it came to the design of the heritage buildings of the brew tower and stables, where the outdoor units were to be located in the basement utility room.

Rival Air’s previous experience using the Fujitsu product on other projects was also telling. And despite the heritage aspects of the project – which on the face of it would have made installation difficult – Stewart says they did not affect the design or installation of the air conditioning.

“We were very lucky. Everything was located remotely and we didn’t have to drill any holes or anything like that as you could work in the internal layouts.

Key learnings

Given the compact nature of the construction site, the narrow access roads and the ambitious project schedule, the Yorkshire Brewery project encountered a number of planning challenges throughout the construction period.

Normally this would create a financial and logistical imposition on the mechanical contractor, but Stewart says Fujitsu has always been very flexible. “The planning for this project was demanding, and Fujitsu was very good with stock availability and delivery in this regard.”

To that end, Stewart says it’s not uncommon for such developments to encounter scheduling challenges, and equipment suppliers need to recognize that flux effects are often beyond the control of their installing contractors.

“Some things are getting delayed, and some things are accelerating from the original planning, so it’s important to accommodate the flexibility of the construction industry,” he says. “Having a supplier like Fujitsu that can accommodate this flexibility gives you great confidence.”


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