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The yoga studios that are transforming Melbourne’s old warehouses

January 30, 2019

The Upstate studios in Balaclava.

Cat Woods

Melbourne is renowned for its industrial chic aesthetic and within the city and inner suburbs, warehouses have long been popular amongst hipsters seeking to transform them into apartments, cafes, hair salons and bars. The size and adaptability of these spaces is also perfect for yoga and Pilates studios.

The primary concerns with designing yoga spaces are functional and environmental rather than purely making them pleasing to the eye. Studios must consider the physical and emotional impact of spatial elements, colour palette, the use of design materials and lighting.

These Melbourne Pilates and yoga studios have been successfully transformed into warm, inviting and in-demand spaces.

Upstate Yoga and Pilates

The reception area in the converted warehouse. The reception area in the converted Balaclava warehouse.

The entrance to the studio. The entrance to the studio.

Gail Asbell, co-founder of Upstate Yoga, opened the Balaclava studio in October of 2018.

“The space has been transformed from black walls and dark brown timbers to light and sunny. The dark and dimly lit stairwell has been painted bright, sunny yellow and we removed walls to open the lounge and reception area up,” she said.

In removing the walls, the original windows were exposed and provided natural light to the upstairs studio.

To facilitate ‘hot’ yoga and ‘hot’ Pilates, the yoga room features infrared heating panels, acoustic installation and sound-proof flooring.

Gertrude Street Yoga

The Gertrude studios. The Gertrude Street studio has held yoga classes for more than 20 years.

The reception area. The reception area.

Hannah Campos and Jaspah Marques have been running Gertrude Street Yoga for nearly four years, though it has been a yoga studio since the early 1990s.

“We’re not sure what it was before, but I believe it was maybe a sewing factory and before that, part of the Johnson Furniture Company,” said Ms Campos.

“We renovated a year ago to open reception to the beautiful big front windows, which let a lot more light in. We also refinished the floors and put in new furnishings with a focus on warm, earthy tones and lush plants.”

The studio maintains a simple approach to design elements, with original hardwood floors and the original exposed brick walls. “We open the windows and let in fresh air as much as possible,” she said.

Universal Practice

The Universal Practice. The Fitzroy studio of Universal Practice.

The studio was previously an empty shell. The studio was previously an empty shell.

Sammy Wilson, co-founder of Universal Practice, a Pilates and yoga studio with two Melbourne locations, recalls that the Fitzroy studio was a raw shell when they began work on it.

“The studio was abandoned. There was no ceiling so cracks of daylight peeped in, a thick blanket of dust over the floor, old power lines dangling from above.”

But even in this state the bones of the building were promising.

“The northern aspect gave it great light and the old terrazzo staircase leading up to a concrete floor had great history and great light.”

Yoga Corner

The studios in a converted basement. The studio was once a basement liquor store.

The entrance to the Yoga Corner. The entrance to the Yoga Corner.

Not strictly a warehouse space, Amy Leonard-King’s basement-turned-studio was converted from a dingy, abandoned liquor store in Melbourne’s CBD.

Designer Bryony Dobson said: “We exposed the floor and polished the concrete to achieve a uniform finish, and worked with the existing ceiling grid to align the heating panels amongst them. It was really about working with what was already there as much as possible, whilst creating a unique and inviting, energetically aligned space.”

Power Living

The Power Living studios. The Power Living studios were renovated in 2012.

The studio during one of the classes. The studio during one of the classes.

In an upstairs warehouse, located in a backstreet of Fitzroy, between Nicholson and Brunswick streets, is the popular Power Living studio.

A warehouse shell when it was first taken over, the renovation was achieved on a shoestring budget in 2012.

The goal of the renovation was to create a light and tranquil space. Using recycled materials, including logs and found items, the natural light was complemented by warm, organic textures and neutral tones.


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