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Aesop The Rocks store interior

An ingenious response to heritage restrictions

The Rocks neighbourhood lies in an area traditionally owned by the Gadigal people; it was one of the first sites of European settlement in Australia. Today, examples of early colonial architecture remain, speaking to a varied history that encompasses nineteenth-century tumult and later, flourishing harbourside enterprise.

Created in partnership with architects from Melbourne-based practice March Studio, the design observes strict heritage protocols that prohibit fixings to the walls, floor and ceiling of the historic building (once home to Australia’s first government architect, Francis Greenway, it has also hosted a butcher, clothier and grocer). The only intervention is a fresh lick of heritage-approved white paint.

To address restrictions, the architects crafted a self-supporting structure which bears product shelving, washplane and light fixtures. It is constructed from natural aluminium joints, custom-turned timber dowels and orange nylon rope—a distinctly contemporary element that references the industrial past and adds warmth and textural interest to the interior.

‘A few strong instincts and a few plain rules.’

William Wordsworth