Premier Mill Hotel Katanning

Category: Hospitality

Location: Katanning

Status: Completed 2018.


AIA (National) The Lachlan Macquarie Award for Heritage_2019

AIA (WA Chapter) Architecture Award for Interior Architecture_2019

AIA (WA Chapter) Architecture Award for Heritage_2019

AIA (WA Chapter) Architecture Award for Commercial_2019

Project Team:

Michael Patroni

Dimmity Walker

Alessia Mercuri


Master Built


AllanMyles & BarryWilliams

Project description:

The Premier Mill Hotel is a celebration of the rich fabric of the existing building, formerly a flourmill it was an ingenious industrial invention of its time, however since its hey-day the mill had become obsolete and the building slipped into disrepair, a similar fate suffered by many handsome heritage buildings of the wheat belt towns dating back to the prosperous gold rush era.

In response to our client’s bold vision for tourism in the region we embraced the challenge of re imagining the mill as a 22-room hotel including lobby, common areas and basement bar retaining, exposing and expressing the industrial texture throughout.

New elements such as the steel framed lift cage and a dynamic, sculptural stair weave around the original boiler that was retained in-situ rising three stories through a central void forming a dramatic feature in the lobby. The lobby area is a split-level space, the lower part is arranged as a lounge orientated around the fireplace and connects down to the basement bar, the upper level is a ‘kitchen’ complete with an Aga stove and a communal table which serves as a dining area and event space.

The bar occupies the basement and is artfully inserted amongst the exposed timber structure and retained mechanical components of the mills engine. Salvaged material from the ‘flour shakers’ was used for the new bar front and an organic zinc counter was fabricated for the tops that will patina with use.

The circulation spaces and common areas are designed to reveal as much of the existing building as possible while incorporating extensive new services: fire services, air-conditioning, hydraulic and electrical as required for the new use and current standards.

The rooms are all different to varying degrees by virtue of the found condition. Where possible the rooms have exposed remnant machinery and original timber structure. Elements such as inset carpets and full height curtains soften the industrial shell. New elements in the rooms are designed to compliment the existing material textures adding amenity without clutter.

We designed a series of furniture components in solid timber and black steel that could be configured to suit all the different conditions. These include a wall mounted desk, fridge and television system; a timber bed head, base and built in side tables; and a luggage plinth, wall mirror and bespoke clothes hooks made from re-purposed ceramic isolators salvaged from the site. We worked with furniture designer and maker Paul Morris of Join to realize the design and fabrication of all in-room furniture. A custom-made armchair designed by Join is used throughout the hotel as well as loose furniture in the bar and lobby area.

The result is a magical story of the buildings past, present and future made of layers of times past and times to come, it offers a new vision of the region for locals and visitors alike.

AIA national awards jury citation:

‘Heritage awards seem to either laud historical absolutism or accept heritage fragments as a mere backdrop to the contemporary commercial requirements of a redevelopment. Displaying neither of these tendencies, Premier Mill Hotel is refreshing and revelatory in its deep integration of a plethora of heritage artefacts and spatial leftovers, textures, materials and images that don’t simply invoke a past but celebrate its ingenuity and authenticity. This is a project that exhibits sincere and respectful care without being museum-like or overtly deferential. It celebrates the past by making it visible, relevant and part of the commercial allure of the hotel.

The building is effectively a spatial and material superimposition. A sophisticated and well designed boutique hotel has been integrated into the fabric, the volumetrics and the residual hardware and mechanics of a redundant flour mill. This was not a stripping out of the old and a re-presentation of various bits and pieces of the mill in a new context; rather, it involved a delicate merging of a significant portion of the systems, mechanisms and engineering of the original mill. Simultaneously, it also provided bespoke details and hospitality features that give the hotel a one-of-a-kind confluence – a contemporary heritage.

Briefed to resurrect and transform an important remnant of Katanning’s agricultural/industrial past, and to position it as a hotel that celebrates and advances tourism in the Great Southern region of Western Australia, Spaceagency Architects has redefined the meaning of a heritage project. The historic hardware (machines, belts, cables, shafts and conveyors) of the flour mill remain in situ, with the hotel rooms, corridors, circulation areas and stairs inserted into the mill’s carcass in such a way as to retain an appreciation of the building’s original purpose. This is a master achievement, born of intelligence and attention.’