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Friday, February 09, 2007, 08:00 am PT (11:00 am ET)

Wonka-style Apple flagship proposed for Melbourne's Fun Factory site (images)

Exclusive: A glass-crowned Apple flagship shop is part of lavish $200 million redevelopment project targeting a one-time amusement center in the Australian city of Melbourne, a design proposal shown to AppleInsider have revealed.

The plan, which got underway last year, calls for the demolition of the historic but under-utilized Fun Factory building on the corner of Toorak Road and Chapel Street in the city's South Yarra suburb. Developers want to replace the structure with a three-building, mixed-use development complex comprised of ground level retail shops, a hotel and a high-rise apartment building.

According to design documents, a cubed-shaped Apple store, reminiscent of the company's flagship location in San Francisco, would consume the largest chunk of space within the retail plaza. It would lay adjacent to both the hotel and apartment complex, interconnecting with those buildings at the podium level by a distinct and suspended translucent space frame characterized by circular, interconnecting rings.

The Melbourne site, if approved, would give way to just the second Apple-owned retail shop in Australia. Development planning for an initial location at 77 King Street in Sydney was confirmed for the first time earlier this week and said to be in the final stages. There, the iPod maker has proposed a three-story shop at the base of a sky-rise, clad by a similarly proportioned glass atrium along the frontal facade.

The Fun Factory building in South Yarra is believed to have been built in the late 1880s to house the Toorak cable tram system. However, when the system was electrified in 1926, the building fell into disrepair and turned vacant till it was taken over in 1933 by Capitol Bakeries. It reopened again to much fanfare in 1979 as the Fun Factory — then one of Melbourne's largest amusement centers. Recently, the majority of the building has again turned dormant, a furniture retailer, burger joint, and arcade withstanding.

For Apple, its decent on Australia's retail scene will clear just one of several international targets caught within its cross-hairs. Over the next two years, the Cupertino-based firm is also expected to turn up inaugural shops in Italy, Scotland, France, and Germany. Its current fleet of 170 stores stretches the U.S., Canada, U.K. and Japan.

Apple Store Melbourne at the

Apple Store design proposal for Fun Factory site in Melbourne, Australia.


Apple Store Melbourne at the

The Apple Store exterior would include glass and aluminum panels.


Apple Store Melbourne at the

High rises (left), circular, interconnecting rings (right).


Apple Store Melbourne at the

Picnic tables line the side walks outside the Apple shop.


Apple Store Melbourne at the

The suspended translucent space frame joining the structures.


Apple Store Melbourne at the

The Fun Factory site from a distance.