Wesley Place

  • 2023

  • Architectural
    Place Design

Designed By:

  • COX Architecture
  • Lovell Chen

Commissioned By:

Charter Hall

Designed In:


Wesley Place is one of the largest urban renewal projects in Melbourne. A new active urban precinct connects the rich history of the Wesley Church with a next-generation frictionless workplace, curated retail, and engaging public offerings including new greenery for the city.

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Image: Trevor Mein
Image: Molly Coulter
Image: Trevor Mein
Image: Ken Kuo
Image: Trevor Mein
Image: Trevor Mein
Image: ACE Landscape
Image: Trevor Mein
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  • Located on Wurundjeri Country, Wesley Church complex in central Melbourne is a substantial collection of mid-to-late nineteenth and early twentieth-century ecclesiastical buildings, architecturally significant as the earliest intact church complex in the state. The grounds house a heritage-listed olive tree said to be brought from Jerusalem around 1839, planted in 1875, and relocated to its current position in 1988. The vision for the project was to conserve the complex and secure its future through a site-wide regeneration process, including the construction of a new office tower, and new open space, re-engaging the city centre with this significant group of buildings.

  • Heritage buildings are celebrated and restored, unifying new and old built forms with a high-quality public realm that covers a substantial 48% of the site. The landscape architecture carefully negotiates existing vegetation, significant trees, heritage elements, and a new contemporary office tower. The precinct accommodates 110,000m2 of technology-oriented workplaces. 5,500 office workers activate the site daily, eventually utilising one Premium and two A-Grade commercial towers over three conjoined sites. New retail space adaptively reuses several heritage buildings, activating the public realm and enticing people to this place.

  • Wesley Place is an important addition to inner Melbourne’s public spaces. It offers refuge from adjoining city streets and creates a new pedestrian connection through the site, which previously didn’t exist. Historic features have undergone major conservation works to reinstate, restore, and repair the original fabric, preserving the character of this precinct for future generations. With adaptive reuse as a key focus, Wesley Place is an active and welcoming urban environment pairing the best aspects of the calm church sanctuary with new intelligently integrated architecture. This transformative landmark precinct seamlessly merges business and lifestyle.

  • The church underwent major conservation works, inside and out, preserving the structure for future generations. Conservation works were also undertaken on the Schoolhouse, Caretaker’s Cottage and Manse, removing unsympathetic additions/alterations. Forensic investigation of the fabric and photographic material informed the reinstatement of the cast iron rainwater heads and diamond pattern leadlight windows to the Schoolhouse. The seating layout, gardens and lawn respect the orthogonal layout of the buildings. The open lawn at the Little Lonsdale end provides a generous space focused on existing trees, including one of the oldest olive trees in Australia. Sections of the original masonry boundary wall (Little Lonsdale Street) were dismantled and reconstructed using the original materials. The bluestone fence plinth and the gate posts have been conserved and cast-iron pickets replicated from castings of remnant elements. Heritage photography was referenced as part of the landscape design process, to combine some of the plants that grew around the church in the early 20th century with native species. Pink flowering perennials were included to complement the pink leadlight church windows and offset the weight of bluestone and bronze with delicate ephemerality.