Heritage Rejection Triggers – Alterations Over the Last 180 Years! Rejection or Correction? Time For A Change. 

Inspect any home or property built in the nineteenth century and you’ll doubtless find inappropriate renovations or additions. The same applies to other structures right through to the mid-century modernist homes constructed Bayside designed by Robin Boyd, David Chancellor, Eric Lyons and others. Most such ‘renovations’ and ‘alterations’ are easily rectified and realistically the option should be available to the Heritage Council and it’s assessors to order such restorations on both early constructions and more recent mid- century modern designs to enable Heritage compliance and subsequent listing by The Heritage Council. 

A Heritage Assessment should never result in the demolition of any building considered Heritage status worthy. 

Take a look at last week’s blog/post on Sevenoaks in Balwyn (pictured in 2 images above). One of the original farmhouses in the area, the Heritage Council has refused heritage status on the basis of two easily removed Bay windows added to the structure in 1948, courtesy of a building permit issued in 1927. All the changes made to this building over the years could be rectified simply and easily. As well, there is the possibility of of semi-detached rear extensions providing a more liveable home, meeting current day’s expectations. 

This is a common theme. Whether it’s a purist position or simply a lack of knowledge in terms of architectural styles and relative importance, it’s very hard to gauge, but to deny for instance the importance of the art nouveau and art deco period of the 1920’s and 1930’s is simply poor form. This has happened time and time again – the Greyhound Hotel the London Hotel , even the Metro Theatre in Burke Street in Melbourne’s CBD were deemed not original therefore “not worthy of preservation”.

It’s really time now to revise the entire heritage platform. Review international best practice, the UK for example, and reconsider and reconfigure what actually constitutes heritage and how can such properties, buildings and features be properly preserved. 

Currently the issue is that the Heritage legislation is decidedly lacking in ‘teeth’, the power to bring rogue developers and their cohorts to heel. 

Balance Architecture has long called for a Heritage Summit here in Victoria involving the Heritage Council of Victoria, its legislative arm – Heritage Victoria, the National Trust, Developers, Real Estate Companies, Architects and Town Planners, as well as the Victorian Planning Department and relevant local government and representatives. 

Currently there is a total lack of uniformity across the board. As Architects we fail to understand how in identifying inappropriate modifications the Heritage Council cannot determine that with proper rectification to the original heritage values, or in the case of art deco and sometimes mid-century modern, why is it there cannot be orders made to rectify damage, acknowledge unique redevelopments (art deco) and to utilise current legislation to force property owners to properly maintain buildings covered by heritage listings or overlays? This legislation is already in place. It simply requires the assistance of local government authorities to ensure it is prosecuted. 

Balance Architecture can provide accurate heritage assessments in keeping with the correct Heritage Council requirements upon request for both private individuals as well as for public buildings and heritage action groups. Quite frequently it is the particular wording and the submission of drawings and imagery that define the success or failure of such applications. 

Call now on 0418 341 443 to speak with Balance’s Principal Architect, Andrew Federowicz, Fellow of the Australian Institute of Architects, regarding your property, project or public interest heritage issue. Andrew is experienced over many years in both heritage and general architecture. Alternatively, you can leave your details here for a prompt reply.

Heritage status should be both accessible and relevant to both historical buildings and architectural masterpieces. Equally it should not be judged solely on whether the property in question appears as it did 150 years ago. Where the main features, architectural design and style can be quantified it’s time to start valuing our history and cultural heritage. It’s way past time for a change. 


Heritage – It Matters. Preserve It. 

Sevenoaks Farmhouse in Line for Demolition After Rejection of Heritage Listing Application.

Sevenoaks Farmhouse grounds,Balwyn.

Suburban heritage battles often fly under the radar. The original farmhouse Sevenoaks located in suburban Balwyn was recently the subject of a heritage listing application by Boroondara Council. It was originally built in 1894 in the late Victorian style by a Mr. John Jeffrey, coincidentally a builder. Jeffrey purchased 34 acres of crown land in 1893. In 1906 the property was sold to Mr. William Nott. Most of the property’s 34 acres were subdivided and sold by 1921 by his widowed wife. Alterations to the original home were undertaken in 1927 – two bay windows and slated hip roofs. The entrance porch in neo Victorian style is also a more recent addition. 

At the recent hearing the property was denied heritage protection by the Heritage Council of Victoria on the basis of the bay window alterations. 

Catherine Diggins and Paul Dignell of the Boroondara Residents Action Group outside Sevenoaks.

The Boroondara Residents Action Group have fought to save the property. Read about it here.

As can be seen in the report prepared by the Boroondara Council the building represented a broader heritage perspective in that it is one of the original farmhouse buildings included in the Balwyn and North Balwyn Heritage Study. (The Balwyn Study). As such it is most worthy of preservation.

Sevenoaks Farmhouse, Balwyn.

Sevenoaks represents a type of building that in, our view, is often ill considered in the overall assessment of its heritage value. Rather than noting the inevitable ‘renovations’ of the last 120 years as impediments to heritage listing, the identification of non-original alterations should become a roadmap for restoration of full heritage refurbishment. Perhaps it’s and opportunity for local government to purchase the property and the few remaining similar iconic buildings within the area to protect, preserve and restore these homes to their original display and the unique role they play in the area’s history. Please find the links here to read the full Boroondara Sevenoaks Farmhouse Report as provided to the Heritage Council of Victoria. This is a long and detailed, well prepared document and it is most disappointing to see it rejected by the Heritage Council.

Greyhound Hotel, St.Kilda.

Similar assessments have been made on other worthy buildings based on external alterations made during the early to mid-twentieth century, for example, the Greyhound Hotel in St. Kilda (pictured) and The London Hotel in Port Melbourne were both demolished based on the Heritage Council’s rejection of art deco renovations made during the 1920’s and 1930’s being deemed too extensive to rectify. Both sites have remained unoccupied for years prior to any construction commencing. 

There is a good case for the heritage protection of Sevenoaks. There needs to be a better program instituted by the Heritage Council of Victoria to restore and repair previous heritage damage as opposed to striking off the whole building based on minor alterations. Sevenoaks is an important part of the local history and settlement of the Balwyn/Deepdene area. It is well worthy of Heritage protection. 

Balance Architecture recognises the importance of Historical Architecture. We specialise in the renovation and restoration of Heritage Buildings.

Heritage – It Matters. Preserve It. 

Architect Designed With Intact and Restored Heritage Features

Real Estate Agents, many Builders and modern Architects will often shy away from Heritage listed properties or those included in Heritage listed overlays. Often when it is consigned to the ‘too hard basket’ it’s simply a lack of knowledge and experience by the relevant building practitioners.  But please don’t be discouraged – heritage living can be an absolute delight. Your very first requirement? A qualified and experienced Heritage Architect. It’s time to call Balance Architecture for an obligation-free consultation. 

When? It depends entirely on the property in question. In many cases it’s a good idea to have a proper heritage inspection prior to purchase enabling you, the buyer, the opportunity to gain an understanding of exactly what is covered by the heritage ruling, what expenditure may be involved, what requires restoration and how a modern living extension or renovation can be accomplished without denigrating the heritage features and layout of the home in question. 

Heritage properties differ immensely from simple workers’ or miners’ timber cottages through to grand Victorian mansions, churches and old hotels. Each requiring a totally and very different approach.

With larger, more expansive homes, such as Victorian terraces, villas and the more ornate Queen Anne style properties, the houses feature high ceilings, solid plaster walls, timber staircases, high windows and a host of other feature, such as verandas with ornate iron lacework and decorative period tiles, stained glass windows, baltic pine flooring and magnificent fire places. However, there are draw backs – inappropriate renovations throughout the twentieth century, ancient wiring and plumbing and incongruous extensions. It’s risk and reward. With correct restoration and careful renovation a return to the complete heritage features – plaster mouldings, wood panelling and feature stained glass windows for example, will add immense value to your new property.

In regional Victoria in places such as Daylesford, Maldon, Castlemaine, Bendigo and Ballarat – old gold mining centres – there are a full range of interesting heritage buildings. These vary from the large expansive homes of the more successful miners, bankers and storekeepers of the times through to the original miners’ cottages. 

Add to this to eccentricity of the very broad ethnicity of those working on the early gold fields and you have some extraordinary variances in building styles. For example, the early constructions of the Italian community around Daylesford.

Miners’ cottages can be cosy and a comfortable retreat as a weekender or retirement living option. However, being over a 100 years old quite often they require extensive structural work to ensure further longevity and liveability. From foundations to framing, flooring and roofing these ‘quaint’ buildings (as Real Estate Agents often describe them) can be a minefield of hidden expenses. It is rare for such buildings to be intact originals in 2021 often having suffered a range of inappropriate or ‘gerry built’ modifications. Generally the façade has remained largely intact, but that is often all that remains of the original building.

The best option is to engage a suitably qualified Heritage Architect to prepare a condition report and recommendations on how to proceed with restoration and renovations. Call Balance Architecture on 0418 341 443 and speak to Andrew Fedorowicz, our Principal Architect. Andrew is a fellow of the Australian Institute of Architects with an enviable track record in the restoration and renovation of Heritage properties in both metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria. If you prefer you can leave you details here for a prompt reply.

Plan for the future. Select the property you desire with confidence and a real understanding of what is required to revive and revitalise it to its former glory.

Balance Architecture – Specialists in Heritage Restoration. 

Heritage – It Matters. Preserve It. 

Markets The New Target For Developments

Melbourne is fortunate to retain some excellent outdoor/indoor markets. The Queen Victoria market is a nationally listed Heritage site as well as also being Victorian Heritage listed. South Melbourne market has been successfully revitalised yet retains its character. Markets are traditionally the province of the people. They provide an eclectic mix of produce, delicatessen items, clothing and homewares at prices most people can afford. Unfortunately, there are others who view these wonderful, vibrant places as huge opportunities for real estate development. The latest in a long line of targets is the Preston market.

Preston market is relatively recent, having first opened in 1970. Markets are bustling, exciting places, traders are mostly small businesses and it’s a model that has survived the test of time. 

Property developers covet the large expanses of land these sites often represent. In this case the Preston market has been identified by Planning Victoria as a desirable project and has been fast tracked in its planning.

For the very latest update please read this article from The Age newspaper, dated 17th May, 2021. 

Fears for future of Preston Market as apartment plan looms

By Rachel Eddie

May 17, 2021 — 11.59pm

Preston Market could be redeveloped to make room for 2200 apartments under draft planning rules that the council says could wreck the 50-year-old “heartbeat of the local community”.

Up to 20 storeys of apartments could be built on the northern end of the 5.1-hectare site, according to plans drawn up by the Victorian Planning Authority and released for consultation on Tuesday.

Planning Authority and released for consultation on Tuesday.

The market would be repositioned to front Cramer Street, at the southern end of the site, and retain the existing fruit and vegetable shed to protect local heritage.

But most of the 120 stalls would be moved, allowing stallholders to keep trading during construction. The floor space for traders cannot be reduced under the proposal.

The planning authority has been reviewing the development rules for the precinct and fast-tracked the process after it was asked to identify projects that were close to shovel ready and had a high economic value to help boost the economy after COVID-19.

The authority wants to make better use of the private land to provide jobs and housing, arguing that well-connected land of that size was rare and was needed to tackle urban sprawl.

Preston Market borders Preston station, which is due to be elevated as part of a level crossing removal project.

Buildings could be up to 12 storeys high with setbacks on the southern end of the market precinct. They could be 16 storeys in the centre and 20 storeys at the northern end to make room for between 4500 and 6000 residents to move in.

Ten per cent of the apartments would need to be affordable housing and the developer would have to donate 10 per cent of the land value to create open space, most probably opposite Preston City Oval.

VPA chief executive Stuart Moseley stressed that the draft rules would make sure that any development retained a fresh food market of about the same size.

“Our draft plans ensure the Preston Market precinct offers new homes and jobs in a greener, sustainable precinct, including affordable housing, new public open spaces, new community facilities and improved transport connections,” Mr Moseley said.

Darebin Council has previously rejected development applications for the site, but a proposal to construct four buildings between nine and 14 storeys high was approved on appeal to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

The current planning controls had no heritage protections and did not provide a clear future for the market, the VPA said.

The new plans would add local heritage protections to retain the market’s character, while giving certainty to its future and improving layout and access.

How the Victorian Planning Authority imagines the market could look at the Cramer Street entrance.

Credit: VPA

Darebin mayor Lina Messina, whose first job in high school was at the market, said the precinct was “the heartbeat of the community”.

“Council is worried that under this plan, most of the market could be demolished,” Cr Messina said.

She said the council would make a submission after reviewing the details of the plan, to ensure the market remained where it was.

Councillors hardened their position on the market in March, voting to advocate for the market to be retained on the current footprint with mandatory height limits of 12 storeys.

Darebin Council also called for Planning Minister Richard Wynne to intervene in a change.org petition, launched earlier this month.

Construction would be unlikely to begin until at least 2024, subject to any permit applications which would also need to go through a consultation and approval process.

Sam Tarascio, managing director of part-owner Salta Properties, said the owners were committed to the success and longevity of the market.

“There is a growing demand for a more modern community market environment that continues to serve the needs of the existing traders and the community, and supports growth in Preston.”

The draft plans will be open for consultation for eight weeks on the Engage Victoria website. 

Rachel is a city reporter for The Age.

The Queen Victoria market is still under threat of development by the Melbourne City Council. It seems extraordinary, but to date the City of Melbourne have yet to create and present a Master Plan for this National Heritage iconic site! 

Expect an update on this over the next few weeks. Balance Architecture attended a recent meeting where parties interested in preserving the unique nature of the Queen Victoria market met for a walk through with Melbourne City Councillor Rohan Leppert. It seems very likely that a new steering committee representing all parties interested in the status of the Queen Victoria market will now be formed.

Queen Victoria market artist impression. Attribution: Urban

Iconic markets such as the Queen Victoria, the Prahran market and the South Melbourne market should most definitely be saved from predatory developers and their land grabs. But so too should markets like Preston, Dandenong, Croydon and others that truly serve the community. Too often they disappear quietly (Moonee Ponds and Brunswick markets) and represent a lost community asset. 

It’s time to say “No thanks!” and ensure the future of ‘people’s markets’ such as Preston market. It’s high time to recognise the value of strong links with our food producers and the wonderful selection of farm to market produce that can only be found at markets.

Heritage – It Matters. Preserve It. 

Restoration and Renovation of Heritage Homes in Regional and Rural Locations with Balance Architecture

The dream was to purchase a beautiful period home in a quiet regional town. Places such as Daylesford, Kyneton, Ballarat, Bendigo, Castlemaine or Maldon were envisaged, or perhaps, the foothills of the Great Divide – Mount Macedon, Woodend or further north – Bright, Beechworth or Corryong. It’s then that you discover what is involved in complying with a heritage listing or heritage overlay, and it’s round about this time you realise that you require a qualified and experienced Heritage Architect. 

Too often Architects determine to maintain the façade of heritage as opposed to complying fully with, and maintaining the entire complement of heritage features included in the listing or overlay. 

Many such homes with a Georgian, Victorian, Queen Anne or the ubiquitous Federation Period, have suffered at the hands of previous renovators. So the first step is to engage a Heritage Architect to conduct and document a proper heritage assessment of your property – its heritage assets and shortfalls and an assessment of what a full restoration may cost. Add to this an assessment on how an incorporation of modern, open plan living maybe included in any further renovations. Heritage should be a benefit not a costly deterrent and, if your home is properly restored and renovated, this will add immeasurable value to your property, quite apart from the pleasure and delight you will derive from owning such a beautiful, liveable home. 

Homes constructed during the late nineteenth century through to the early 1930s often present with unique issues. Electricals, plumbing, lighting and foundations nearly always need assessment and often replacement and renewal. 

It is not unusual for such heritage listed properties to have suffered unkind modifications over the years – the removal of or bricking up of fire places and chimneys, tiling, ornate plaster mouldings, fragile stained glass and wrought iron features on verandahs such as lacework, pillars and ornamental features. 

It is entirely prudent to arrange for a heritage report from a qualified and experienced  Heritage Architect. Andrew Fedorowicz is such an Architect and as the Principal Architect for Balance Architecture Andrew has managed hundreds of such projects from initial assessment through design and planning to completion and lock up stage, supervising the contracted builders to assure complete compliance to both the restoration and design intended as well as ensuring compliance to the heritage listing or heritage overlay requirements. 

Call Balance Architecture now on 0418 341 443 to arrange an obligation free consultation at a time that is convenient to your schedule. Alternatively leave your details here for a prompt reply. 

Vision, Experience and a True Respect for Heritage and its Value – Balance Architecture. 

Heritage – the pathway from our past ensuring a rich rewarding and fulfilling future. 

Heritage Listed Former ANZ Bank Building Dwarfed by Rear Tower Development

Artist’s impression of the former ANZ Bank building with proposed rear tower.

The English, Scottish and Australian Chartered Bank, known as the ES&A during its long lifetime, built some amazing buildings in Melbourne. These Bank buildings were constructed in a Gothic Style of Architecture and were certainly very different to some of the more sombre banks of the time.

The most famous of these was the building located at 388 Collins St, now an ANZ banking chamber. Its proper name is the Verden Chambers, but to the public it is affectionately known as the Gothic Bank.

The ES&A Bank built many of its branches in the Gothic style ranging from the Rocks in Sydney to Mt Alexander Rd Ascot Vale, where the theme prevailed. The Ascot Vale building was fully restored by Balance Architecture to its original heritage splendour twenty years ago. And perhaps one of the most notable examples in an otherwise Victorian era visage was the bank constructed on the corner of Bank St and Clarendon St, South Melbourne in 1880. It was, and still is ,a striking edifice with curious round windows and full capped chimneys, a slate roof and pier capped wrought iron on brick fence.

Former ANZ Bank South Melbourne

Nationally it is probably the second most significant of the ES&A Bank buildings. “Built in 1880 to a design by architectural firm Terry & Oakden. It is an inspiring 2 storey Gothic Revival building of Hawthorn bricks into which are set polychromic brick bands, string courses of both render and encaustic tiles and granite colonettes flanking the doorway. Of local significance” Is it largely intact and when the ANZ added a section at the rear in the 1970s the modifications were supervised by the National Trust to ensure the new extensions remained in sympathy with the overall building. To a great extent it was a successful project and the building retained its integrity.

More recently the ANZ Bank have vacated the premises, moving further down Clarendon St next door to the Commonwealth Bank (Cnr of Dorcas St).

In designing the new building, the group’s Architects have looked to profile the bank building rather than hide it, encroach upon it, or envelope it. “Design features such as the circular window highlight the existing bank building’s rather unique features.”

With the removal of the ANZ Bank’s detritus and infrastructure, the large original chamber has been exposed. Advertising will soon begin for a new tenant, perhaps a high-end furniture, homewares or design oriented showroom in character with the original heritage listed structure.
 

The ANZ has since sold the freehold and it is now currently owned by a property group headed up by M/s Anne Mihelakos. As with other buildings on the Clarendon St strip, eastern side, the group have submitted plans to the Port Phillip Council for a multi storey development at the rear of the heritage listed building. This involves the removal of a small carpark and the 1970s addition (which is to be demolished). The new building featured would be for offices. It was originally approved for five storeys, amended to six storeys and the developers now seek a further amendment to structure atop of the sixth storey – making it seven storeys effectively. 

In designing the new building, the group’s Architects have claimed to profile the bank building rather than hide it, encroach upon it, or envelope it. Unfortunately it appears that their efforts are in vain and largely unsuccessful. The new building dwarfs the older bank building. Design features such as the circular window are meant to highlight the existing bank building’s rather unique features. In real terms the new building is entirely out of place in this heritage precinct, towering over the shopping strip and adjacent buildings, ruining sight lines from the Town Hall and elsewhere. 

This would appear to be a very different style of project. The developers are currently awaiting approval on the new height request. A demolition order on the 70’s addition and some other facets of the original building is already in place. The project is now in the domain of public opinion. We are no longer taking a neutral position. We encourage residents and interested parties to challenge the construction of the new building and its detrimental effect on South Melbourne and its heritage precinct. A new group ‘Save Old South Melbourne’ is in the process of being set up. We will invite interested parties to join and express their feelings and concerns to both Port Phillip Council and the Minister for Planning, Mr. Richard Wynne with regards to the project

We look forward to seeing these beautiful chambers come back to life with its spectacular high ceilings, mitred windows and marble edged entrances. And just a hint of the real founders of Old South Melbourne – the Dorcas Society.

The Dorcas society were women with vision who established the Emerald Hill precinct from 1854 onwards. Read about it here.

Heritage is precious. Value it, preserve it – it’s the bridge between our past and the present.

Heritage Properties Regenerate, Revitalise With Balance Heritage Architecture

Over the last year there has been a significant increase in the sale of rural and regional city properties. This has seemingly been in response to the COVID situation whereby many people have felt the need to re-assess their living situation and move to a more relaxed, more comfortable home in places such as Geelong, Ballarat, the region of Gippsland and the Mornington and Bellarine Peninsulas. 

Often the properties purchased enjoy a heritage overlay or a singular heritage listing. Beautiful Victorian terraces, villas and older Georgian style homes offer a whole raft of new and quite difficult impediments to developing a modern living space yet still maintain the period charm and heritage features of some of these wonderful old homes. 

There are eclectic purchases that include old churches, former hotels, corner stores and even schools. Locales stretch from central Victoria – Castlemaine, Daylesford, Kyneton, Bendigo, Ballarat and Maryborough through to the Murray Valley, the high country around Bright, Mansfield and Beechworth.

Homes constructed during the late nineteenth century through to the early 1930s often present with unique issues. Electricals, plumbing, lighting and foundations nearly always need assessment and often replacement and renewal. 

It is not unusual for such heritage listed properties to have suffered unkind modifications over the years – the removal of or bricking up of fire places and chimneys, tiling, ornate plaster mouldings, fragile stained glass and wrought iron features on verandahs such as lacework, pillars and ornamental features. 

To renovate these types of properties can be immensely rewarding and satisfying but it is entirely prudent to arrange for a heritage report from a qualified and experienced  Heritage Architect. Andrew Fedorowicz is such an Architect and as the Principal Architect for Balance Architecture Andrew has managed hundreds of such projects from initial assessment through design and planning to completion and lock up stage, supervising the contracted builders to assure complete compliance to both the restoration and design intended as well as ensuring compliance to the heritage listing or heritage overlay requirements. 

It’s everyone’s desire to create a comfortable and liveable space, a home that is fitted with modern standards and a vision of space and light. It is possible to achieve true heritage compliance and beauty that is a highly desirable, comfortable residence.

Call Balance Architecture now on 0418 341 443 to arrange an obligation free consultation at a time that is convenient to your schedule. Alternatively leave your details here for a prompt reply. 

Vision, Experience and a True Respect for Heritage and its Value – Balance Architecture. 

Heritage – the pathway from our past ensuring a rich rewarding and fulfilling future. 

Queen Victoria Market Back on The Heritage Agenda

The City of Melbourne has determined that it will again attempt to re-develop the historic and heritage listed Queen Victoria Market precinct. Previously Heritage Victoria blocked the re-development of the original market sheds. The battle to save the market and its character was long and hard fought. You can refresh your memories of the event here 

It would appear that the vision of former Lord Mayor Robert Doyle is again being revisited. The aim of the then proposed development seemed to be to modernise the “food court” to resemble something more akin to the upmarket food halls found in department store environments. This perspective is completely at odds with what “old city” markets represent worldwide. The Queen Victoria Market is listed not only as a State Heritage Site but as a National Heritage Listing.

For more on the current situation please refer to this article from The Age by Chloe Booker and Jackson Graham: 

Fears $40m plan for Queen Vic Market will turn it into shopping centre

By Chloe Booker and Jackson Graham

April 8, 2021 — 2.00pm

A plan by the City of Melbourne to add two sheds to Queen Victoria Market at a cost of almost $40 million has renewed fears that the site will be turned into something resembling a shopping centre.

On Tuesday, the council will decide whether to invest $35 million to build a “trader shed” and “northern shed” on Queen Street, which would include logistics, storage, waste and recycling facilities, customer toilets and trader bathrooms and meeting areas.

A further $4.5 million would be spent on a refurbishment of the market’s food court.

The response from market traders to the plan was mixed, with some suggesting it would reduce the landmark heritage site to “a little boutique market”.

Lord mayor Sally Capp said the project would employ about 400 workers, in addition to 500 already building the Munro development and restoring the market’s heritage sheds, and help attract more shoppers.

The Munro development includes a community hub, apartments, retail and a carpark.

“These stages of the market renewal program will deliver 900 jobs for our city at a time when we need them most,” Ms Capp said.

“Businesses throughout the City of Melbourne have been hit hard by COVID-19 and major projects such as the Queen Victoria Market renewal are critical to create local jobs and support our economic recovery.”

However, the secretary of the Friends of Queen Victoria Market, Miriam Faine, said the plans went against the recommendations of the people’s panel, which was appointed to give the community a greater voice in the market’s redevelopment.

“We don’t think they are upgrades at all; we think they are continuations of the [former lord mayor Robert] Doyle plan,” she said.

“We think they will make life impossible for traders in every way.”

Ms Faine said the group believed traders would be forced to store goods and perishables in the sheds and that they were being built to accommodate franchises moving into the market.

She said the northern shed would cut off traffic access from Queen Street, which would mean traders would have to load and unload produce at designated times.

“These are designed to turn the market into a shopping centre and into an entertainment precinct,” she said.

Rosa Ansaldo, a fruiterer of 34 years, said there would not be enough new storage and traders would face challenges moving stock without forklifts in the market.

“[The council has] an agenda to get all of us out of here and only have a little boutique market,” she said.

“I want to see an upgrade that works for all of us.”

Queen Victoria Market fruiter Rosa Ansaldo is concerned long-term stall holders are being pushed out. 

Ms Ansaldo felt the council and market management had not listened to her over the past six years.

“Our livelihoods are all at stake; family businesses will go to the wall,” she said.

However, Leo Moda, an owner at Egg stall Eggsperts, said he supported the redevelopment, believing the new look would be cleaner and draw customers back.

“At the moment it doesn’t look nice when people walk through and see dirty rags,” Mr Moda, who has operated his stall for six years, said.

“Traders are mostly for it. The traders who have been here 20-plus years, they are against it, they don’t want to see change.”

Fruiterer of two decades Nash Bideci was indifferent to the plans but feared the ongoing impact if customers stayed away due to noise and dust.

In the past three months, after coronavirus rent-relief was withdrawn, Mr Bideci said his business had suffered a 40 per cent decline while nearby shed restoration works occurred.

“It might look good in the future, but at the moment we are paying full rent and it’s affecting us,” he said. 

The market’s chief executive, Stan Liacos, welcomed the development and rejected the claim it was part of a plan to turn the market into a shopping centre.

“It is imperative that to safely operate a business of our scale we need better infrastructure, storage and safer operations,” he said.

“These two projects will take us into the next century, because the facilities that we have are probably Dickensian and virtually have not seen investment since the 1800s.”

Mr Liacos said the investment would form part of the market’s recovery after a drop of about 80 per cent of its revenue because of COVID-19. This included millions spent on rent relief for traders, a reduction in car park fees and the loss of its night markets. The night markets returned in a reduced form on Wednesday and will be at full capacity in June.

Cr Capp said traders wanted an upgrade to the food court, built in the mid-1990s, as the current one limited the potential to expand their businesses.

She said the upgrade would also include an improved dining area with more seating, a cooking demonstration area, greenery and a new floor and roof

The plan would invest $4.5 million in refurbishing the market’s food court.

“The trader shed and northern shed will deliver important safety, efficiency and sustainability improvements,” she said.

Heritage permits for the two sheds were approved by Heritage Victoria in December. Construction is expected to start in early 2022, subject to approvals.

Friends of Queen Victoria Market has long been concerned about the council introducing fixed storage and refrigeration for fresh produce traders, and loading docks.

The group believes vegetable traders are being driven out of business so they can be replaced with stalls selling wine and takeaway food.

The battle over the redevelopment of Queen Victoria Market – the site of one of the most colourful and contested parcels of land in Melbourne – has been running for years.

The Queen Victoria market is the last remaining in Melbourne’s CBD. Gone are the Eastern and Western Markets, the Fish Market in Flinders Street, the Meat Market in North Melbourne. Markets such as the Queen Victoria are places of the people where shoppers come for fresh produce, the atmosphere and the open air. Generations of migrants have made the Queen Victoria their shopping destination and this is reflected in the huge variety of fresh vegetables, meat, fish, dairy and specialty products available. It is eclectic with a charming hustle and bustle. A sterile. modern foodhall just won’t be the same. It might be nice for council’s new residents located in the Munro Street development – but for the rest of Melburnians it’s pretty simply a disappointment.

The market represents one of the largest areas of relatively open space available in inner Melbourne and it is no doubt coveted by developers seeking new potential sites. Considering council paid $74M for the Munro Street site just imagine what the entire Queen Victoria market site is now valued at. 

Over the coming years, no doubt, further attempts will be made to water down the heritage listings that protect the market and its precinct. The first step in ensuring the protection of this wonderful location, its history, its unique architecture and fabulous eclectic atmosphere is to ensure its heritage value and listing are fully and totally protected. 

Heritage – it’s worth protecting the pathway from our past to ensure a rich rewarding and fulfilling future for our children. 

Heritage – It Matters. Preserve It. 

Heritage Homes in Rural Victoria. Renovate, Restore and Refurbish With Balance Architecture

The last twelve months in Victoria has seen a rapid uptake on sales of older properties in regional and rural Victoria, with many being covered by Heritage Overlays or unique Heritage Listings. For a number of purchasers this provides a conundrum; on the one hand how to preserve and enhance heritage characteristics, features and the overall heritage quality of their new home, and on the other hand how to modernise plumbing, electricals and internal space to adjust to modern standards and demands. 

Balance Architecture can provide the right solutions with a careful melding of both the past and the present within the boundaries of the heritage protection afforded such properties. One of the first priorities should be to do a property architectural inspection of the building/s to identify what needs to be done and what can be done.  

Older buildings from the 19th and early 20th century have often been rudely modified by church organisations, government bodies and individuals. Smaller properties have seen odd renovations during the 1950s and 1960s (Spanish arches, removal of ceiling mouldings, removal of pillars, stainglass, feature tiling, ironwork – and the list goes on). Where once there was space there are now dividing walls, false ceilings and bricked up fire places, again the list goes on. 

There are choices to be made. If the building is sound can a full restoration to the original design be undertaken? Can an extension be added? Can there be demolition of unwanted add-ons such as laundries, workshops and other oddities? 

Can the original tilings, mouldings, light fittings, architraves, fire places etc. be sourced, obtained and refitted? Is it possible to rebuild and re-create the original space and ambiance? 

An experienced Heritage Architect can often find the right solutions that will not only add value to your property but will enhance the liveability of your new home with space, light and warmth. 

Whether you select a rural farmhouse on acreage, a Victorian terrace in a provincial city or a grand mansion built in bygone days Balance Architecture offers vision, creativity and competence in all elements of planning, building and construction. Heritage buildings were constructed to last a millenium not just fifty years. Often it took great wealth to facilitate their construction.

The foundations are there in place. It’s time to enhance your property and enjoy its features and beauty whilst being confident of today’s building standards and requirements – climate control, solar systems, water reticulation, functional, beautiful bathrooms and superb bedrooms, living rooms and entertaining areas. 

Call Balance Architecture now on 0418 341 443 and speak with Principal Architect Andrew Fedorowicz to arrange a free, no obligation consultation at your convenience. Alternatively you can leave your details here for a prompt reply. 

Refresh, Refurbish and Renew with Balance Architecture.

Balance Architecture recognises the importance of historical architecture, specialising in the renovation and restoration of heritage buildings.

Heritage How Do You Value It?

Shell House, Spring Street, Melbourne. Wikimedia.

The CBD of Melbourne is short on one thing – space. There is a continual battle to achieve useable space by developers, the reason is simple – you can only go up! Going up means one thing – profitability. In this case we are not speaking of a moderate profit, we are looking at mega profits. Now we get to the latest conflict in the CBD – the dispute over the Heritage listed Shell building on the corner of Flinders Street and Spring Street designed by the late Harry Seidler, the famed modernist Architect. The space in question is the two sections of the Shell Plaza opening onto Flinders Lane and Spring Street. The Shell Building and its Plaza are heritage listed. Note it’s not just the Shell Building itself but the adjoining Plaza is also included. The Plaza is an integral part of the overall design and, as such, is covered by the heritage citation of 2017.

For your interest here is a recent article Clay Lucas published in The Age April 5, 2021.

Plonked on a plaza: Skyscraper plan puts spotlight on heritage laws

Marcel Mihulka and his family chose to live near Shell House – the skyscraper on the corner of Flinders and Spring streets – in part because of the heritage listing stopping redevelopment of one of Melbourne’s most decorated pieces of architecture.

But the heritage listing for the 28-level tower, designed by world-renowned architect Harry Seidler, will be set aside if an application before authorities is successful.

Marcel Mihulka on the plaza where Shell House’s owners want to build a second skyscraper. Credit:Jason South

The tower’s owners, the Besen and Roth families, want to dig up its rear plaza in Flinders Lane and build a 33-storey tower, standing apart from Shell House but linked via a sky bridge at the 15th level.

“If they can do that to this building, what’s next? Why have heritage laws if they can just plonk this tower here?” said Mr Mihulka, whose property is not overly affected by the plan but who is angered by what he sees as its brazen nature.

Ultimately, Planning Minister Richard Wynne, whose office for a time was in the tower, could decide on the plan.

Two integral parts of Shell House’s design, according to its 2017 heritage citation, are the larger Spring Street plaza and a smaller one in Flinders Lane, about 1200 square metres in size.

The plazas were designed to complement the tower, completed in 1989 by the Shell company. Seen from above, the skyscraper is the shape of a nautilus shell.

In 1994 Shell sold the tower for $135 million to its current owners, the Roth family from Sydney, and a Melbourne company with Daniel Besen among its directors.

The group wants to replace the Flinders Lane plaza, referred to in one of the company’s submissions as “underdeveloped land”, with a tower they argue will complement Shell House.

Shell House is Melbourne’s only tower designed by Seidler, a controversial pioneer of modernism in Australia and one of the country’s most influential architects. It won both state and national architecture awards.

Proposed development area

Seidler – who died in 2006 – designed many Sydney towers including Australia Square and the much-criticised Blues Point tower. His work redefined Australia’s city skylines. His other acclaimed buildings include the Australian embassy in Paris.

The plan for the rear plaza of his Melbourne tower has been supported by Seidler’s firm, now led by his wife, architect Penelope Evatt Seidler. The firm worked on recent renovations to Shell House.

Also in support is architectural historian Philip Goad, from Melbourne University, a leading modernism expert.

In a submission to Heritage Victoria, he argues the larger Spring and Flinders streets plaza is unaffected by the plan, and a new building on the Flinders Lane plaza would be sympathetic to both Shell House’s heritage and another building on the site, the art nouveau Milton House. It was built in 1901. The new tower would project over Milton House.

An artist’s impression of the proposed tower behind 1 Spring Street.Credit:Source: Phillip Nominees Pty Ltd

Other experts, though, have questioned the plan.

Another Melbourne University architecture academic, Rory Hyde, said while the proposed new tower was respectful and “seems to be of high quality and considered”, the entire site was heritage listed, not just the Shell House tower.

Harry Seidler’s legacy

He said increasing density on another Melbourne city block was “part of a worrying trend”, and had already happened at Nauru House on the corner of Collins and Exhibition streets, where a tower has been built just metres away.

Professor Hyde argues the plaza should not be built over.

“We need more of these public spaces, not fewer,” he said.

The National Trust has submitted a strong objection, with Victorian chief executive Simon Ambrose saying the proposed tower will “completely undermine” the integrity of Seidler’s original design.

“The approval of this proposal would set a dangerous precedent for all places provided with the highest level of heritage protection in our state,” Mr Ambrose says.

The building is almost entirely leased to government departments, including the Department of Transport, Public Transport Victoria, the Taxi Service Commission and VicRoads.

The tower would cantilever over Milton House, built in 1901.Credit:Phillip Nominees Pty Ltd

Its owners spend $1.3 million a year “maintaining and conserving” the tower and Milton House.

Heritage consultant Rohan Storey made a submission opposing the plan on behalf of lobby group Melbourne Heritage Action. He says the tower is a fantastic example of a free-standing Seidler tower.

“Modernist towers tended to be free-standing and surrounded by open space,” he said, adding the tower’s plaza’s were “landscaped with materials that are Seidler signatures; it’s not just a plaza, it’s a Seidler plaza”.

Melbourne City councillor Rohan Leppert, chair of the city’s heritage committee, says the proposal could not be approved by Mr Wynne even if heritage authorities allow it to proceed. “The lack of setbacks render the proposal prohibited under the Melbourne Planning Scheme,” he said.

If Heritage Victoria approves the plan it will go to the Planning Minister, Mr Wynne, for approval. His spokeswoman said the application was only now being assessed by the heritage body.

Harry Seidler in his own words

The late Harry Seidler talks about his career. From a 2004 documentary, with footage and images of his buildings as they stand today.

Mr Mihulka says Shell House is “a great example of modernist architecture and one Melburnians are rightly proud of”. He says the new tower, designed by architects Ingenhoven and Architectus, “looks world class – but [Shell House] is heritage-listed for a reason”.

The skyscraper’s owners argue the project should be allowed to proceed because it will improve pedestrian access through the city block. “If they want to improve pedestrian flow, you can do that without a tower,” said Mr Mihulka.

Also to clarify the matter further here is the Statement of Significance from the Victorian Heritage database.

Statement of Significance

What is significant?

1 Spring Street, Melbourne comprising an office tower and northern podium, main foyer with Arthur Boyd mural ‘Bathers and Pulpit Rock’ and external plazas including a large external plaza at the Spring Street corner containing the Charles O Perry sculpture ‘Shell Mace’. The building was originally known as Shell House, and is referred to as such below.

History Summary

Shell House was the third headquarters building erected for the Shell Company of Australia Ltd in Melbourne. Constructed in 1985-89, the building replaced earlier headquarters constructed in 1933 and 1958 and was occupied by Shell until 2003-2004. The company commissioned the highly regarded commercial architect and leading Australian modernist, Harry Seidler, to design Shell House. Seidler was trained by Modernist architects in the United States before arriving in Australia in 1948 and throughout his career his work continued to display the ideals of this movement. This included the use of basic geometric shapes, sculptural and simple form, visual expression of structure and generous civic spaces. Seidler continued to explore skyscraper design from the 1960s to the 1990s, producing a series of office buildings in Australia and overseas. Shell House is the only example of these built in Victoria. Shell House won a number of awards including the Royal Australian Institute of Architects Victoria Merit Award in 1991 and the National RAIA Award in the same year.

Description Summary

Located on a sloping L-shaped site at the south-eastern corner of the Melbourne city grid, Shell House is a late twentieth century International style office tower with side podium, basement carpark and external plazas. The building is a concrete structure with granite-faced lower facades and a repetitive floor construction system of clear span beams of equal length. With an interest in geometry, simplicity of form and clear expression of structure, Harry Seidler designed the building using two counterpoint curved sections to maximise views to the south and east, to accommodate existing underground railway tunnels and to present a commanding entry point to the city. The core of the building, containing lifts and amenities, is located on the off-view north side and the office floors wrap around this core.

The building integrates dramatic level changes for public access from the south, south east and north through a central control point located in the main Spring Street foyer. This foyer is accessed via stairs from Flinders Street or directly from the primary external entry plaza at the corner of Flinders and Spring Streets. The main entry plaza contains a dominant structural and sculptural building pier and a specially commissioned sculpture, ‘Shell Mace’ by American sculptor and architect, Charles O Perry (1989). The foyer has soaring ceilings, with a mural, ‘Bathers and Pulpit Rock’ by Arthur Boyd (1988) and sets of escalators which lead to the mezzanine and conference centre level. The conference centre provides access to meeting rooms arranged around a circular light well, an auditorium and a narrow secondary pedestrian plaza entry from Flinders Lane. The mezzanine level provides access to a former cafeteria space, with built in seating arranged around the base of the light well, a servery and adjoining commercial kitchen.

The office tower uses a repetitive floor construction system of clear span beams of equal length, resulting in a uniform 15 metre wide column-free space from the services core to the external windows. This, along with the concealment of computer cabling and electrical wiring under a 250 mm access floor, creates an interior aesthetic which is open, light and spacious. All office floors have expansive views to the south and east of the city. The top two floors of the office tower contain an executive suite with external terrace garden, garden court and spiral granite staircase between levels. A variety of quality finishes have been used throughout the building for paving, floor and wall cladding, including Italian granite and travertine, and much of this has been retained.

Some changes have been made to the office floor configurations and fittings, including the executive suite.

This site is part of the traditional land of the people of the Kulin Nation.How is it significant?

Shell House is of architectural and aesthetic significance to the State of Victoria. It satisfies the following criterion for inclusion in the Victorian Heritage Register:

Criterion D

Importance in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a class of cultural places and objects.

Criterion E

Importance in exhibiting particular aesthetic characteristics.Why is it significant?

Shell House is significant at the State level for the following reasons:

Shell House is architecturally significant as an outstanding example of a late modernist office building in Victoria, designed by one of the style’s most accomplished proponents, the renowned Australian architect, Harry Seidler. Late modernism, as expressed in Shell House is demonstrated principally through sculptural form, use of solid concrete and other massive materials, and a variety of textural finishes. Shell House is also significant for the clarity with which it expresses particular themes and motifs characteristic of Seidler’s work. These include the use of opposing curvilinear forms and the generous planning of public areas, both externally an internally.

Shell House is one of an important series of high rise tower projects designed by Harry Seidler both nationally and internationally from the 1960s to the 1990s, and is the only one located in Victoria. Shell House is of architectural significance for its innovative design response to a difficult site and for its integration of dramatic level changes for public access from surrounding streets through a central lower foyer control point. Shell House won a number of awards including the Royal Australian Institute of Architects Victoria Merit Award in 1991 and the National RAIA Award in the same year. Seidler is considered to be one of the major talents in Australian architectural history who made a substantial contribution to Australian architecture. [Criterion D]

Shell House is aesthetically significant for the sculptural effect created by the interlocking curvilinear form of the building that is reflected in the interior planning. The quality of the interior spaces and their relationship to the extensive outdoor terraces at several levels of the building is of high aesthetic value, both visually and experientially. The location at the south-east corner of the Hoddle Grid is highlighted by elements such as the large tapered pier at the Spring Street/Flinders Street entrance.

The aesthetic qualities of the place are enhanced by the incorporation of large scale artworks which complement the architecture and were selected by Seidler for the building. Significant pieces include the foyer mural ‘Bathers and Pulpit Rock’ by Arthur Boyd (1988) and the external plaza sculpture ‘Shell Mace’ by Charles O Perry (1989). [Criterion E]

The ability to appreciate the relevant aesthetic characteristics is enhanced by the high degree of intactness and integrity of the Place, both internally and externally.

TO SUMMARISE:

Let’s get to the nub of the problem. Developers are prepared to take great financial risks to overcome heritage listing and overlays. The Corkman Cowboys stood to make a huge profit on the twelve-storey apartment block they proposed to build. The promoters of the Metro Nightclub development which saw irreplaceable decorative mouldings and a Melbourne icon destroyed were motivated purely by profit. In the case of many such CBD developments the aim to create apartment complexes is at odds with the current glut of unoccupied apartment buildings within the area. But development is often a long term strategy so when the market turns? – it’s profit all the way. 

It comes down to what we value as a community and as a society. Do we want to become another Shanghai or Kowloon with not a millimetre of open space available for recreation, for trees, for greenery? 

Why is this happening? Quite simply it’s made possible by the impotence of the current heritage system. Heritage Victoria is somewhat underfunded by the Victorian government and complicating this is its reliance on local government maintaining both local heritage overlays and to some extent policing heritage laws. In a number of municipal areas it would seem the preference would be for increased rates and planning fees from developers. There is little public understanding of what heritage values are and why there is a value placed on heritage. Only a few weeks ago on the Balance Facebook page we have had comments from people decrying the Eastern Freeway heritage listing and more recently the difficulty of owning heritage properties in Brunswick.

There is little or no knowledge of the heritage grants available in various locations and little appreciation of some of the magnificent architecture that has been and is still retained via the Heritage system.

Now is the time for genuine action and response. We feel for the Besen and Roth families and their dire need for more profit, but frankly, we would like to see a plan brought forward to bring the Shell Plazas to life for public usage. The last thing Melbourne’s CBD needs is another multi storey tower adjacent to parklands. It really is time for a heritage summit, bringing together local government, State government, the National Trust, Heritage Victoria and the Heritage Council of Victoria as well as developers and property owners. There must be an acknowledged and accepted recognition of what heritage values are and why heritage preservation is so very important. In the UK heritage protection is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. This funding is substantial and guarantees heritage action where and when required. 

We would like to see some of Britain’s laws on heritage introduced here. For instance, if you demolish a heritage building in Britain you are forced to rebuild it to the exact specifications of the original building and, at the same time, suffer heavy fines for having demolished the building. 

In Australia, it seems that heritage listing is seen as a challenge (to overcome) by developers and their advisors. 

Well, no more – heritage is who we are, where we have come from and what we hold in true high esteem.  It’s time for a change. Right about NOW