Cultural Heritage Practice Through Socially Sustainable, Adaptive Re-use of Industrial Buildings: A Western Australian Narrative



Conservation and heritage practice in Western Australia has been, and continues to be, primarily concerned with the recognition and retention of places that have cultural heritage significance on a local, national and international level. Their value lies in a desire by the community to preserve important buildings, their sites and their interiors that speak of the evolution of architectural styles and practices, provide evidence of the layers of human modification of the natural environment, and contribute to the richness of Western Australia’s built and social history. Their ongoing use, either for their originally intended purpose or through adaptation for new use, is evidence of the sustainability of such places.

One such place is the Midland Railway Workshops in Midland: a large complex of buildings, ancillary spaces, machinery and equipment, associated with the production and maintenance of rolling stock for the West Australian Government Railways system, which was vital to the ongoing growth and development of the State. The workshops were constructed from 1904 and remained in consistent use until the site’s closure in 1994. The site is currently undergoing development for a variety of uses.

A significant outcome of the changes in function of the Railway Workshops buildings is the gentrification of what was a noisy, crowded, dirty and, in some cases, dangerous industrial site.

This chapter discusses this compromise as an alternative to the deterioration of places through lack of continued use, and argues that to do other than modify the buildings and their context would likely mean the permanent loss of a culturally significant site, and therefore the loss of its values, including its social sustainability to the local Midland community specifically, and the wider community of the state and nation generally.


Conservation Heritage Adaptive re-use Midland Railway Workshops Cultural heritage significance Social sustainability Heritage values 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Priya Metcalfe Conservation and Heritage ConsultantPerthAustralia

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