Skipping Girl Vinegar Factory Conversion

ONE20 Architects have now moved into our new offices in Eastment st Northcote.  This was an exciting redevelopment of an old factory.

This incredible adaptation of a disused vinegar factory was carried out in an intirely sustainable manner. Not only does it use natural stack effect to cool the space, its constructiion was done with a zero waste solution. No skips were used. Everything on site was re-used, recycled or re-purposed. The basement was converted into an architecture studio with a 3 storey family home above. The vats were cleverly re-purposed as planters, workstations, toilets, laundry and even a fishpond. Natural light pours into the building a result of removing a third of the roof to create a garden court

Built in 1890, the building was a vinegar-making factory for the iconic Skipping Girl Vinegar brand.  It is now a 4 storey building. The Ground floor is an Architectural studio. The 3 Levels above are a family home.

This project was in effect an experiment to see if a building could be constructed without the need to dispose of any waste to landfill.  In Austrlaia, construction waste accounts for almost 46% of all volume of landfill.

We took great pride in the re-use of many of the existing materials on site including the 100 year old oregon beams and the “Northcote New” bricks that were made in the area at the turn of the 20th century.  All waste material on site was recycled, meaning that we did not have a need for a rubbish skip on site at any point.  There is a 3 storey home built on top of our basement level office.  All of the 4 storeys look out onto a lush courtyard filled with Australian natives.  The rain water from the site is collected at the re-purposed basement vats and redistributed throughout the toilets laundry and gardens in the building.

ONE20 Architects won the National Sustainability Award for Heritage Architecture  for this project.


Here is the press release.


Sustainability Awards winners revealed – by Branko Miletic


Skipping Girl Vinegar Factory Conversion by ONE20 Architects
Built in 1890, the building was initially a bakery, then it was turned into a vinegar-making factory in 1900, later becoming known as the “Skipping Girl Vinegar” brand.

The project has been designed to be sustainable down to the construction phase which involved a zero-waste policy, where no rubbish skips were allowed on site and where every material was re-used, recycled or re-purposed.

By using high performance windows, thermal mass, insulation, natural ventilation and shading, this project challenges the way we build things in a sustainable manner.

By re-using each material found onsite, it can be said that the building itself was totally preserved.

From the judges: “Adaptive reuse is a good thing, but re-purposing every piece of old material in the process takes the Skipping Girl Factory project to a higher level of performance, and makes it an exemplar for so much of our urban renewal and revitalisation.”

We are pleased to have the award winning Australian Singer/Songwriter Gretta Ray provide the soundtrack to this video of the history of the building with her song “Blank White Canvas’”.


If you would like to see more videos then




Photographs by Kit Haselden and Luca Calvanese

This is a great example of the sustainable adaptive re-use of a disused vinegar factory.  The constructiion of the building was done with a zero waste solution.  No skips were used. Everything on site was re-used, recycled or re-purposed. The basement was converted into an architecture studio with a 3 storey family home above.  The vats were re-purposed as planters, Workstations, toilets, laundry and even a fishpond. Natural light pours into the building a result of removeing a third of the roof to create a garden court.

All building materials were collected onsite and sorted into recyclable catagories. Timber was placed in a pile outside and used by the neighbourhood for firewood. Steel was reshaped and cut to make flashings for the windows and doors. Bricks were smashed by hand and turned into drainage for the re-purposed vat planter boxes.

This project was carefully constructed in a sustainable manner. There was considerable re-use of existing materials;
The 10m long timber beams that are now in the kitchen courtyard all came from the basement.
The broken bricks from the stable became drainage for garden beds.
The good bricks from the stable and the hole for the garage door were made into the BBQ and balustrade for the kitchen and the floor paving in the laundry.
The cut out concrete from the vats was used in the fishpond and as seating in the garden.
The steel scaffolding pipes were used as handrails to the stairs and as the support frame for the desks.
The old steel stair was relocated with new treads and is now the bottom stair down to the basement.
The old steel window were repaired double-glazed and are featured in the bedrooms and lounge.
Hardwood timber wall framing reused as door jambs, screening and gate to courtyard.
Planks from scaffolding and stairs were reused as shelving.
Steel grates from old windows are now in the garage as tool organisers on the wall.
Weights from double-hung windows used to stabilise chains on the walls for creepers.
Vinegar barrels reused as planters.
Steel bands from vinegar barrels reused in drains for water tanks.
Steel stair reused as wine rack
Vats reused as workstations, planters, toilets, water tanks.
Cut-off rafter ends as a sculpture.

Team Members

Adrian Light
Luca Calvanese
Lorelei Le Berre Soule


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