Renaissance or Removal? What lies ahead for Old South Melbourne?

South Melbourne has long been recognised as one of the last vestiges of true 19th Century Architecture and heritage in Greater Melbourne. Many parts of the area carry Heritage Listings or Heritage Overlays. When land values begin to overtake the building’s value occupying the space some rather predictable things begin to happen.

The lower end of Clarendon St, Moray St and Kings Way was always a semi-industrial area. That industry in general has long since departed. Many older warehouses and office buildings, constructed in the 1960s and ‘70s provide great opportunity for developers. At what cost to the integrity of the Heritage listed buildings and area overlays in the vicinity?

Over the next 5 years, the character of the area will change dramatically – it already has. Market St between Clarendon St and Cecil St is almost unrecognisable with new multi-storey accommodation towers fronted by remnant warehouse façades – what might that be about? The street was unchanged for decades until the Australia Post garage was sold off about 5 years ago. To be blunt it was never attractive. The real concern is that having successfully created very profitable developments, others now wish to mimic that success in more sensitive locations.

Look at Moray St. The Metro Rail Tunnel consortium has just turned Moray St into a replacement bikeway for the period whilst St Kilda Rd is out of action for several years. Moray St at the moment is still blocked off at Coventry St for this project. But wait! There’s more. The Deague Group have purchased a site at 81-109 Moray St and have now gained the approval to construct a seven level commercial project. The company, a family business, trades as the Asian Pacific Group. With a Rothe-Lowman office design permit the plan is to develop a $150 million office project next to its existing business park. It will include ‘reflection gardens’ and a gymnasium with a limited number of ‘hotel rooms’ for clients or visitors.

Moving up Moray St a little further we arrive at a site on the corner of Dorcas St and Moray St currently occupied by a well known Real Estate firm. It has been purchased by Private Australian Developer Perri Projects with the intention of building a boutique luxury hotel. (Nice juxtaposition with the Ministry of Housing old Commission Flats across the road) Port Phillip Council has granted a planning permit. Perri Projects have purchased the adjoining properties.

“More than a hotel, we envisage this mixed use development to be a lifestyle destination in South Melbourne including retail, food and beverage and a rooftop function and events centre.” Interestingly a less salubrious but very popular traditional hotel sits on the next corner down – Bells Hotel – with a rooftop garden, functions, events and food and beverage.


David Scalzo, Managing Director of Perri Projects was quoted as saying:

“South Melbourne is an emerging precinct, and ideally located at the doorstep of the CBD and nearby to all the tourism and business markers that drive demand for a luxury hotel such as the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, AAMI Park, and all the major sporting precincts and freeway networks,” he said.

“There is a distinct lack of new, luxury hotel offerings in this area. The majority of existing hotel stock around St Kilda Road and South Melbourne is now ageing considerably so we’ve identified a real gap in the market for quality, bespoke hotels for business and high-end leisure travellers,” Scalzo said.

The hotel, designed by national award-winning practice, Plus Architecture, will boast three street frontages that incorporate extensive ground-floor amenity in the form of a café/restaurant and bar.


“Anchored to the corner of Moray and Dorcas Street, the façade was imagined as a collection of crystalline blocks in which gritty concrete frames are juxtaposed with vapour-like glazing to create a dream-like presence,” said Plus Architecture Director, Ian Briggs.

Inside, the hotel will cater to a largely business premium market with larger-than-average premium suites along with a pool, gym and business centre and a focus on high-end interiors and local designer and supplier collaborations.

Source: Oct 26 2016

Cross over Tope St and the current L+H Electrical showroom and warehouse has just been purchased by the Victorian Police. It is zoned ‘Commercial 2’ and is a relatively large site with three street frontages. No word yet on what is to be developed here, but one would expect it will be an office tower of some description.

Move across to Clarendon St – just up the road from the Tea House, north of Haig St on the western side of Clarendon St. Chinese Developer Holder East is looking to build a 48 storey high skyscraper on the site. Long term tenants have moved on from the purchased site.


The first attempt at approval for Holder East’s development at 56-62 Clarendon Street had failed until the plans were better compliant with Victoria’s Better Apartments Design Standards, which were implemented to ensure developers and architects delivered apartment projects with more access to natural light, airflow and storage, among other things, to improve apartment liveability.

Holder East and their project designer, Fender Katsalidis, made significant amendments to the original proposal – increasing room sizes and improving natural light.

Victorian planning minister Richard Wynne said the government struck a fair deal that ensured Holder East could “get on with their project”, as long as the needs of future residents were met.

“Melbourne’s population is growing and we’re making the most of it. Our Better Apartment Design Standards are about ensuring new apartments are the high-quality, liveable spaces Victorians deserve.”


With a reported construction budget of $60 million, the Clarendon Street building will be a 48-level glass structure with 208 dwellings, built on a 1,212 square metre site

The Clarendon Street development will be Holder East’s second Melbourne high-rise residential project go through the approval process in less than a week. Holder East also received approval for a 231-apartment tower located in South Melbourne.

The planning minister said that apart from increasing the size of apartments and improving access to natural light, Holder East also made amendments that addressed laneway and traffic congestion and overdevelopment.


Holder East are also building a substantial Apartment Block of 231 dwellings at 1-13 Cobden St South Melbourne (east of Kings Way). this will be a 19 storey Apartment Tower.

Finally we move to Bank St between Clarendon and Moray St. Currently the old AAV Studios building known as the Butter Factory, an adjoining office and warehouse to the rear between Bank and Dorcas St with car parks on Dorcas St and on Bank St is up for sale and rumoured to be valued above $45 million.

In addition, the former ANZ building on the corner of Bank and Clarendon is now vacant and looking for a long term lessee. it also has a development permit at the reaar where an addition to the main building was added, quite tastefully, in the 1970s. The development has a height limit, believed to be 5 storeys.


The big question is what are we going to end up with? Consider the development occurring right across South Bank. Add to this the number of apartment and office towers marching up to Emerald Hill. Where is the master plan?

Without too much imagination, its very likely that the current Dorcas St Public Housing Estate, one of the most valuable pieces of real estate in South Melbourne will be subject to some type of Public Private Partnership deal. Bank St is subject to a National Trust Heritage Overlay. It would appear there are some very powerful forces currently at work in this area. Let’s hope that there is some level of both Town Planning, Architectural and Design guidelines. South Melbourne is a jewel – it must be protected and respected. Time will tell.

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


Real Planning – Real Progress. Time for a Uniform Approach.

Melbourne City Councillor Nick Reece has called for an improvement in the overall standard of the city’s new buildings during this current construction boom. At Balance Architecture we wholeheartedly agree with him. There are some wonderful new buildings completed and very exciting projects still in the pipeline. But it would appear, especially with many of the earlier developments of this new millennium, that there has been no uniform application of standards applied to such new developments and constructions. Often there are attempts to crowd far too much infrastructure onto minuscule plots of land, or to appease heritage values in a grand fashion, yet with little real appreciation of the true heritage value of a building or location.


Or particular concern to our team and many others is the lip service, paid to some heritage CBD sites, known as ‘corner sites’. The Developers purchase a land parcel that eventually includes these corner locations and proceeds to develop major towers behind or on top of the important corner properties. Known as the ‘80m on corners’ rule, this fairy obvious flaw in the planning regulations will see a 27 storey high tower built atop of one of Melbourne’s last remaining pubs. The tower will be perched above the remaining facade of the old Metropolitan Hotel on the corner of Williams St and Little Lonsdale St, thus acknowledging its historical value – (not!).

The critique from Melbourne Heritage Action explains in detail this anomaly.

Planning rules target historic corner buildings


In June, the last CBD pub that didn’t have heritage protection, the 1925 Metropolitan Hotel on the corner of William Street and Little Lonsdale, became the latest place threatened by the little known ‘80m on corners’ rule.


A development proposal would see just the external walls retained, and a 27 storey ‘as of right’ tower above, perched on legs through the roof. This has fortunately been put on hold while the City of Melbourne moves to heritage-list the site as one of the few pubs left in the CBD, though this may not prevent something like it going ahead. Listed buildings in the CBD and South Carlton have been allowed to have towers-on-legs above retained facades despite the obviously poor heritage outcomes. The Elms Family Hotel on Spring Street and the former Bank of Australasia on the Haymarket are two examples currently under construction. A worse version, without legs, is happening to the (non-heritage listed) gold-rush era Great Western Hotel on King Street, where the facades will be stuck the base of a 27 storey tower, allowed thanks to the 80m rule.



The Great Western and the Metropolitan have come under this kind of pressure because of a clause first mooted in April 2016 as part of new rules about how much you can build on any one site. These rules included a mandatory setback of 5m from any street or lane above a pedestrian-scaled podium of 20 to 40m (5 to 10 storeys), EXCEPT if it was on a corner, in which case you could go up to 80m (27 floors). This clause means corner sites are more valuable, and sure enough both hotels were sold in mid 2016 at higher than expected yields. The reasons for this peculiar situation, which will mean a pedestrian scale for one site and a sheer tower next door, were never fully explained, and its clear it particularly affects historic buildings.


Other corners in the CBD that are now under more pressure include a number of ex pubs, such as the 1872 Alexandra Hotel on the Russell and Little Lonsdale, which was only sold this month. The 1913 Kilkenny Inn on King and Lonsdale, has been rumoured to be for sale for some time, and the Art Nouveau Charles Hotham Hotel on Spencer Street was sold a year ago. Other buildings are at risk, such as the 1923 bank, now a hotel, on the corner of Collins and Spencer, the 1869 shops on the corner of Queen and Little Bourke, and currently unlisted places like the 1913 warehouse on King Street cnr of Little Bourke.


MHA believes that this 80m-corners rule was a mistake that should be rectified, but this seems unlikely. In the meantime, we can only hope that improved heritage rules, under way at the moment, will prevent the kind of terrible compromises created by pitting heritage against high development potential.


An anomaly such as this cannot be corrected in the future. This and other issues simply reflecting the need for good design in the ‘most liveable city in the world’ have concerned the City of Melbourne where its legislative process is trumped by the State Government’s Planning Department’s overview and extensive powers. In his article published in the Age, dated July 1st 2018, Councillor Reece is quoted as saying:

“We have let too much crap be built”

Councillor Reece is the chair of Melbourne City Council’s Planning Department.

The article continues…

New city design rules to target bad – and good – building plans


Now, the council wants current Planning Minister Richard Wynne to help it raise the bar: by giving city planners new rules to discourage developers turning streets into unpleasant places to be.

It wants Mr Wynne to hand them more power to negotiate with architects and developers over how their buildings impact on city streets.

This week, Mr Wynne released for consultation the council’s Central Melbourne Design Guide – the biggest rewrite of the city’s urban design policies since the 1990s.

The guide attempts to improve building designs by encouraging some types of design, and provides a raft of directions on what developers must avoid.

It wants developers to learn from some of the lessons of the worst buildings of the past decade.

What Melbourne City Council wants to see less of:


“We want to see more buildings that give back to the public realm,” says Cr Reece, who argues that while Melbourne is by far Australia’s most attractive and interesting city, it has been degraded by recent bad architecture and design.

He nominates the 46-year-old former BHP House, on the corner of William and Bourke streets, as evidence that “good design holds up and continues to shine over time”.

He also points to buildings such as the postage stamp sized Monaco House in Ridgway Place, the Riverland bar on the Yarra, Federation Square and the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre in Parkville as examples of the city’s modern design excellence.

But while these were shining beacons, they are being weighed down by other, terrible examples, he says.

“We are seeing low-quality design outcomes,” says the Labor councillor, who served in senior positions with both ex-Victorian premier John Brumby and former prime minister Julia Gillard.


The council’s proposed design policy wants fewer service doors and outlets to electricity substations, fire equipment and gas outlets placed on footpaths.

Their proliferation, caused by a competition for space on the street, sees developers build on tiny plots and opt for the easiest solution: placing essential services on the ground floor.

The Age photographed Cr Reece this week on just such a street: Literature Lane, at the back of the new A’Beckett Tower.

“A long row of services along the lane way has cruelled … this gem of a laneway,” Cr Reece says.

The council’s policy also targets the damage done to city streets from parking.

It wants to see huge vehicle entrances to underground car parks on major streets wound back and also proposes banning above-ground car parks in the CBD.


The policy attempts to push developers to design better street frontages and avoid street walls or podiums that present a continuous monotonous facade.

Cr Reece cites Spencer Street’s discount outlet, next to the award-winning Southern Cross railway station, as just such a building: “A scar on Melbourne [blocking] the connection between the city and Docklands”.


And the policy tries to dissuade developers from using highly reflective glass that both obscures views and causes dangerous reflections for drivers.

The Prima Pearl tower in Southbank was in many ways an “elegant tall tower”, Cr Reece said. But he argues its highly reflective materials “cause unacceptable levels of glare”.


Recently retired planning academic Michael Buxton is a vocal critic of Melbourne’s recently built skyscrapers and has lambasted successive planning ministers for not standing up to developers.

He said the city council’s new design rules were “minor window dressing” that would help if approved.

“But the really big issues – height and bulk and apartment size – the state government just isn’t interested in,” Professor Buxton says.

With more tall towers on their way to Melbourne’s city centre, though, Cr Reece hopes Mr Wynne will approve his council’s new policy so developers and building designers know precisely what will be supported.

“It makes economic sense to create great streets,” he says.


Cr Reece’s examples of excellence

“We need to be more sophisticated than thinking everything built before 1900 was beautiful and everything since 1960 is ugly. We all love Town Hall, The Exhibition Building and Manchester Unity Building. But there has also been some amazing buildings built this millennium that we should acknowledge and celebrate. We have many beautiful buildings, designed by contemporary architects.”

  • Eureka Tower (2006) – Fender Katsalidis
  • Monaco House – Ridgway Place, city (2008) – McBride Charles Ryan
  • Federation Square (2002) – Lab Architecture Studio and Bates Smart
  • ACCA – Sturt Street, Southbank (2002) – Wood Marsh
  • AAMI Park (2011) – Cox Architecture
  • Riverland (2006) Six Degrees and Arbory Bar and Restaurant (2015)
  • Jackson Clements Burrows – Yarra Edge, Federation Square and Flinders St Station.
  • VCCC – Parkville (2017) – Silver Thomas Hanley and Design inc (STHDI) and McBride Charles Ryan (MCR)
  • Peel Street Developments – Collingwood (2017) – DKO and Jackson Clement Burrows
  • Urban Workshop – Lonsdale Street (2006) – NH Architecture, Hassell Architects and John Wardle Architects


At Balance Architecture we have some sympathy for Councillor Reece’s position, as well as being in agreement with recently retired Planning Academic Michael Buxton’s comments. For some time now we have suggested that all planning authorities – State, Municipal and Federal, combined with Heritage Victoria and the Heritage Council of Victoria must work towards a uniform policy on design and development that acknowledges our city’s rich and diverse architecture yet provides an educated and meaningful platform for development.


And if this doesn’t happen, unfortunately there will be further Corkman Pub style debacles tied up in legal debate for years to come – when finally it’s too late – the horse has bolted. There must be planning laws that apply across the board on construction and development agreed to by these separate agencies empowered to enforce planning law. Currently it simply requires an application to VCAT to overrule many such planning directions.

In any case, from our perspective this initiative from Councillor Reece and the City of Melbourne is a sound direction for the future. With the consideration given by planning Minister Wynne and his department to projects like the Queen Victoria Market, Southbank’s new Art Precinct and other developments we may well be turning a very significant corner.


What we don’t want is unplanned chaos as was the likely outcome of the previous Government’s Fisherman’s Bend debacle. Strong planning directions as evidenced by Wynne’s decision to fully investigate all requirements for that project prior to any commencement of building is a major step in the right direction. Lets hope this is the beginning of sensible planning, development and design for our great city, and the vision of its founders realised with great beauty, functionality and liveability.


As John Batman said, “This will be the place for a village”

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

The Ballarat Fernery Re-creation and Restoration.

The population of Ballarat are quite excited and enthusiastic about the revival and restoration of its Botanical Garden’s 1887 Fernery. Balance Architecture are proud to be involved in this grand project.


For your interest, we repeat the article here…


This amazing building could soon tower above the Gardens once more, if it’s approved

One of the Gothic highlights of Victorian and Edwardian Ballarat is proposed to be rebuilt in the Botanical Gardens, with the planned construction of a replica of the ornate 1887 fernery.


[img A welcome return: the original fernery in the Ballarat Botanical Gardens and (inset) the recreated version by Balance Architects which is expected to be completed by October 2018, pending Heritage Victoria approval.]

The building has been designed by Balance Architecture and is a copy of the original Gothic entrance, which was completed in 1898. The firm referred to original photographs and plans of the filigreed ‘batten fernery’ to recreate what the wooden structure looked like. The plan is being considered by Heritage Victoria.

It is not clear when the original fernery was demolished, but postcards of the period show a finely-detailed peaked structure surrounded by the Stoddart statues.


Architect Andrew Fedorowicz says working on a unique building such as the fernery is a joy as much as it is a challenge.

“It’s a big building, 11 metres to the pinnacle”
Andrew Fedorowicz, Balance Architects

“What looks like something straightforward in one picture becomes a more complex corner detail in the next,” he says. “It’s a big building, 11 metres to the pinnacle.”


Mr Fedorowicz used photographs as they came to light to gradually reconstruct the many angles of the wooden fern house. The transparent roof of the fernery is composed of strips of timber which gave the building the name Batten Fernery.

“It’s important that those battens go back, to give it that transparency. There will be gaps between each 90mm board for that reason.”

The current fernery, labelled as being in ‘a disgraceful state’ by support group Friends of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens (FBBG), has been assessed as having engineering problems that may ‘compromise the structure’s integrity and safety’ if continued deterioration is allowed.


The City of Ballarat has issued a statement saying the projected reconstruction is ‘shovel ready’ and makes a commitment of $1.2 million to the first stage, with another $200,000 coming from the FBBG and a planned further $200,000 grant from the Living Heritage Grants program .

Elizabeth Gilfillan of the FBBG says while the group hasn’t seen the final plans for the building, it’s an exciting development after years of lobbying. The group has spent over 20 years raising funds for the project.


“We proposed the reconstruction of this building 10 years ago,” said Ms Gilfillan. “The buildings that currently house the fernery were originally temporary and were built in the 1950s.”



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


Balance Architecture to restore Ballarat’s original Botanical Gardens Fernery.

Victoria has a fine heritage of Botanical Gardens established in the Nineteenth Century under the stewardship of Baron Von Mueller of the Melbourne Botanical Gardens.

Aug 20, 2017 10:17:18 AM

The Ballarat Botanical Gardens were gazetted by the then Government in 1857 and developed from 1858 onwards. The land was originally known as the ‘Old Police Paddock’ site and was some 40 hectares. Balance Architecture have now been engaged to assist in restoring the original Fernery, a substantial and important feature of the Gardens first constructed in 1887. The building featured extensive ornate timber mouldings, gothic in style, and was attended by several striking marble statues of Italian origin at its entrance. [A gift of 12 such statues was originally provided in 1884 by local stockbroker Mr Thomas Stoddart.]


Ballarat was in fact ‘the city of Gold’ and the largesse from mining created many extraordinary buildings and edifices in old Ballarat. The Botanical Gardens adjoined Lake Wendouree (formerly Yuilles Swamp) and, as the 19th Century progressed, provided an elegant and well tended public park where couples and families would stroll its promenades on weekends to ‘take in the airs’. Of the buildings of that time, the most significant original building remaining in the gardens is the Statutory Pavilion housing the ‘Flight from Pompeii’ collection of sculptures.

The site was developed in three distinct sections – the Central ‘Botanic’ Gardens and two areas known as the North and South Gardens. With a strong linear design, the Central Gardens were designed with four north south promenades or walkways enabling a leisurely stroll for Victorian era families on a Sunday in their finery. The Fernery provided a lush green oasis to retreat to from the heat of the day. Once time to return home, a tramway through the park serviced visitors who could then return home in comfort.

The Ballarat Botanical Gardens received original plantings from Baron Von Mueller of the Melbourne Botanical Gardens and from Mr David Bunce of the Geelong Botanical Gardens. The Gardens were the recipient of many personal bequests in its formative days. Mr George Longley, the original curator, put such materials and bequests to good use. The Giant Redwood Avenue (Sequoiadendron Giganteum) on Wendouree Ave, planted between 1863 and 1874, as well as the avenue of ‘Horse Chestnuts’, now accommodating the ‘Prime Ministers’ Avenue, bear testament to this.

Aug 20, 2017 10:05:57 AM

From the Victorian Heritage Register…

By 1862 the first maze was built, but later removed, close to the site of the first fernery (1887), which after several alterations and additions, is still an outstanding feature of the gardens and enhanced by an adjacent water lily pond (1916). With the donation in 1884 by local stockbroker Thomas Stoddart of twelve Italian marble statues located throughout the gardens, and the construction in 1887 of the Statuary Pavilion to house the ‘Flight from Pompeii’ and four accompanying statues donated by James Thompson, the Botanical Gardens became a centrepiece of civic pride for Ballarat. From 1889 tuberose begonias were introduced into displays, beginning a tradition highlighted by the annual begonia festival from 1953 until the present.

Developments catering for increasing tourism adjacent to the lake shore included the Lake Lodge (1891) for refreshments, adjacent cannons, Almeida Pavilion (1907) housing amusement machines and shelters such as the Picnic shelter (c1910) and replacement bandstand (1921). ‘Fairyland’ a wooded grove with bridges, ponds and walks on the western shore of Lake Wendouree, became a popular feature and a zoological section (1915-1959), replacing an earlier menagerie, was established in the northern gardens with the Adam Lindsay Gordon Cottage relocated nearby in 1934. Large and small bequests continued to enhance the gardens in the twentieth century such as the sundial (1912), avenue of Prime Ministers’ busts (1940- ), and the Robert Clark Conservatory and Horticultural Centre (1995). The Ballarat Botanical Gardens retain an exceptional collection of conifer and exotic deciduous trees and a tradition of bedding and floral displays, a fernery and potted plants.

Other additions to the northern gardens included a Pavilion (1904), Sound Shell (1962), and a Wetland (2001). The boundary between the southern gardens and the main botanical gardens is marked by the old display glass house (1972), the Ballarat Fish Acclimatisation Society’s trout hatchery (1873) and the Ballarat Vintage Tramway Museum. The extensive Australian Ex-Prisoner of War Memorial to honour 35,000 soldiers was constructed in 2004 adjacent to Carlton Street.


The restoration of the original 19th Century Fernery is the latest project initiated by the Ballarat City Council to restore these magnificent gardens to their original glory. It should not go unnoticed that the gardens currently maintain one of the world’s (and Australia’s) rarest collections of Elm species and cultivars.

Elm trees have all but disappeared in the Northern Hemisphere due to the devastating Dutch Elm Disease virus. With great care, expertise and expense, these trees are being replaced slowly in the Northern Hemisphere with cross bred varieties that utilise a Siberian Elm Tree, but it is a very slow process. The importance of the Botanical Gardens of Ballarat’s Elm tree gene pool cannot be underestimated.

The restoration of the original 19th Century Fernery will occur in two stages. once completed the site will enhance the annual Begonia festival with another opportunity to display these unique florals complemented by the year round collection of ferns, epiphytes and orchids. It is an exciting project, one that Balance Architecture’s principal Architect Mr Andrew Fedorowicz is proud to be associated with. As the works progress, Balance will provide our readers with regular updates. Heritage is so important to our character, our identity. Ballarat was the real epicentre of the state’s development last century almost entirely funded by Gold. In summer whilst sitting adjacent to Lake Wendouree enjoying the cool zephyrs of an afternoon breeze, you may just make out the soft images of our forbears and their children sitting on the grass, playing amongst the flowerbeds, cooling off in the fernery. It was a beautiful place, an idyll and it will be again – very soon.

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

The Greening of New Developments – The Fraser Group present the Burwood Brickworks Renewal Project

One of the most interesting developments architecturally in the last two decades has been the advent of the ‘Green Building’. There are many instances where a building has added a rooftop garden, but real ‘green’ projects offer much more. Energy neutral, sustainable and oxygen rich, the environments provide those who live and work in such buildings with major life benefits. The new shopping centre built upon the old Burwood Brickworks site by the Fraser Group takes this concept one step further creating a ‘Rooftop Farm’.

Not just a shopping centre but also a residential development, the Burwood project is also offering 700 new residential homes. The project is now fully approved after 2 years as a full living proposition with ‘paddock to plate’ scenarios being viable for resident cafés and restaurants.

Here is the most recent report in The Age Newspaper dated June 12th 2018.

‘World first’ development in Melbourne’s east has farm on shopping centre roof

In what used to be a brickworks in Melbourne’s east, a huge and environmentally-conscious development is springing up.

Frasers Property has created what it calls a “world first” mixed-use development in the suburb of Burwood, with a focus on lessening the impact of development and making each new building have a net positive effect on the environment.

“[The Living Building Challenge] is the most advanced measure of sustainability in the built environment,” Frasers’ head of retail Peri Macdonald said. “Whereas most measures look at how your building can be less bad, it looks at how your development gives back rather than just takes.”

artists impression brickworks building

Artist’s impression of the sustainable shopping centre and urban farm planned for the former Burwood Brickworks site

The challenge is set out by the Seattle-based International Living Future Institute, and no retail centre had achieved the award before Burwood Brickworks.

The centrepiece of the sustainable offering is a 2000-square-metre rooftop farm, which will be run by a yet-to-be-picked operator.

“At this stage our preferred model is that [an adjacent] restaurant is linked to the urban farm. We want a paddock-to-plate model,” Mr Macdonald said.

cgi render brickworks

A CGI render of proposed open space in the Brickworks development

A growing preference for produce grown close to where consumers live made Mr Macdonald think more urban farms could open in Melbourne.

“I think we’re definitely seeing a community preference for hyper local produce,” he said. “One of the challenges [will be] finding enough space to grow produce on a large enough scale to meet demand.”

Frasers hoped it would also be used as a teaching tool for schools and universities.

“It’s also something we see as a major attractor for the centre,” Mr Macdonald said. “And it’s something that doesn’t exist in any of the retail offerings in Melbourne for that matter.”

Frasers is planning to produce 105 per cent of the energy needed to power the development, predominantly through the use of solar panels and batteries, and features such as glazing on windows to reduce the building’s energy demands.

Head of residential Sarah Bloom said the urban farm and other sustainable features would help to sell the project’s 700 homes that will go on the market in the next few months.

“It’s the overarching package of the development that will set it apart,” she said. “That urban farm will be a truly unique proposition. There will be nothing like it.”

Work on Burwood Brickworks began on Tuesday after a two-year approval process with the Whitehorse Council.

“Approval for the project has taken some time and that’s because of the complexity of what we want to achieve … This community will set a new benchmark for what’s possible in sustainable urban design,” Ms Bloom said. “This project exemplifies everything we stand for: building sustainable, liveable communities that promote the long-term health and wellbeing of our residents.”


This is an exceptional, innovative development, but it is by no means the ‘first’ of such projects in Melbourne. Two other developments are prominent for their impeccable ‘green’ credentials.

Green buildings for purpose built offices aim to receive a Green Star Rating. Council House 2 – an administration hub for the City of Melbourne was the first building Australia-wide to achieve a Green Star ‘6 Star’ rating, the highest ranking achievable.


Green Star is a voluntary sustainability rating system for buildings in Australia. It was launched in 2003 by the Green Building Council of Australia.

The Green Star rating system assesses the sustainability of projects at all stages of the built environment life cycle. Ratings can be achieved at the planning phase for communities, during the design, construction or fit out phase of buildings, or during the ongoing operational phase.

The system considers assesses and rates buildings, fitouts and communities against a range of environmental impact categories, and aims to encourage leadership in environmentally sustainable design and construction, showcase innovation in sustainable building practices, and consider occupant health, productivity and operational cost savings.

In 2013, the GBCA released a report, The Value of Green Star, which analysed data from 428 Green Star-certified projects occupying 5,746,000 million square metres across Australia and compared it to the ‘average’ Australian building and minimum practice benchmarks. The research found that, on average, Green Star-certified buildings produce 62% fewer greenhouse gas emissions and use 66% less electricity than average Australian buildings. Green Star buildings use 51% less potable water than average buildings. Green Star-certified buildings also have been found to recycle 96 per cent of their construction and demolition waste, compared to the average 58% for new construction projects.



Council House 2 (CH2) simply changed the landscape of its local area. it has inspired developers, designers and architects across Australia and the world to achieve higher standards of sustainability and energy efficiency. The project was supervised by Professor Robert Adams and completed in 2006. You can view a virtual tour and image gallery of the building here…

The other unique building of note is known as the 60L Building located in Leicester St in Carlton, an inner Melbourne suburb. The Headquarters of the Australian Conservation Foundation has been used to present the organisation’s vision of best practice sustainable commercial building stock. An existing building, in this case a larger warehouse underwent a revolutionary change under the stewardship of the ACF and the developer – The Green Building Partnership.


Read more about the 60L building here…


Externally the 60L building does not disturb or rupture what is a typical late Victorian era landscape.

portion of trees against office buildings

Moving into the future, we have every expectation these projects will become mainstream. City buildings, rather than creating lifeless stone canyons, will be vibrant, green living spaces. The technology, the know how and the expertise is already available. What is now required is genuine commitment from Governments and Developers. We congratulate the Fraser Group on their courage and foresight in creating such a visionary project on the old Burwood Brickworks site. Let’s hope it becomes a template for future reclamation projects. We’re looking forward to enjoying a meal and quiet coffee out there when it’s completed.

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


The Largest Contemporary Art Precinct in Australia – Southbank – Heritage issues still outstanding.

The Victorian Government has announced plans for an exciting addition to the Southbank Arts Precinct. The plans are to build the ‘Largest Contemporary Art Gallery in Australia’. It will occupy a site currently owned by Carlton and United Breweries at the rear of the Arts Centre and the National Gallery of Victoria. The new Gallery will be known as NGV Contemporary, housing contemporary Art and Design.

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Interestingly this area is currently of a major focus for the Melbourne Heritage Action Group. The area has been the target of an extensive study – The Southbank Heritage Study. The study is now finally at Exhibition stage – about 2 1/2 years after the group wrote to the City of Melbourne pointing out the many outstanding places that were somehow not Heritage Listed. The Council’s area internal heritage report was formally accepted by the City of Melbourne Councillors eight months ago. At the end of this article we will reprint the heritage Action Group’s newsletter in full for your information.

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The State Government have allocated monies in this year’s May Budget ‘to purchase the Carlton and United Breweries building and commence planning works’. It is the Government’s intention to create a Public Private Project with those who support the Arts providing a ‘community’ contribution.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is confident of community support.

From the ABC news report of 03.06.2018.


The redevelopment, involving about 18,000 square metres of new and renewed public space, hopes to improve links between Southbank and the city’s main arts centres.

It includes upgrades to theatres at the Arts Centre, an expanded Australian Music Vault, a new centre for small-to-medium arts organisations, a new pedestrian corridor with bars and restaurants, and bike tracks and more green space on Southbank Boulevard.

The Government said the project was expected to create 10,000 jobs during the construction phase, and 260 ongoing jobs.


The State Government hopes the project will create thousands of jobs

New gallery not in competition with MONA, director says

Announcing the new art space, NGV director Tony Ellwood said he was the “happiest gallery director in Australia right now”.

“This means an enormous amount for Victoria,” he said.

“To actually really capitalise on the strength in numbers around contemporary art and design and to create a building of this magnitude, with this kind of vision, really consolidates our position as the leader in the arts in this country.”

The Arts Centre Melbourne and NGV together attract more than six million visitors every year — twice as many as the MCG.

Mr Ellwood said the recent Triennial at the NGV drew almost 1.3 million visitors, with 20,000 visitors going through the gallery on some days.

“The building really does need to expand,” he said.


An artists impression of green space along Southbank Boulevard

He said NGV Contemporary would not be in competition with, but “complement”, the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Hobart.

“What we are noticing is a lot of international and national visitors are coming to Melbourne for a cultural experience, and to Hobart, and that’s really healthy,” he said.

Mr Andrews said the Government expects the new gallery to be completed by 2025.


The National Gallery of Victoria is one of the world’s top 20 Contemporary Art Museums with the new complex now providing a dedicated Contemporary Art Facility.

Premier Daniel Andrews described the project as a ‘once in a generation transformation of the city’s Art Precinct that would deliver new ‘public space, better theatres, and thousands of local jobs and attract millions of visitors’.

‘It’s a game changer for our city that will cement Melbourne as the cultural capital of Australia.’

As well as the new Contemporary Art Gallery on the CUB site, No 1 City Rd, a vacant fenced off block at present will house the Australian Performing Art Gallery, an Australian Music Vault and extensive administration facilities, education and research facilities and a new home for Independent Art Organisations in both Victoria and Australia.

Interestingly there are still many Heritage Buildings within and backing onto the Southbank Precinct. Take the time to consider the information provided by Melbourne Heritage Action, Carlton and United Breweries was the result of the merger of seven individual breweries in the early 1900s. Still standing at 133 Queensbridge St is the grand building that housed the Castlemaine Brewery, built in 1888. It’s a very interesting precinct, and with a little forethought, much of it can be preserved to complement this vibrant new precinct. The Malthouse Theatre is a great example of such a transformation.

Here is the Victorian Heritage action Newsletter.

Southbank Heritage – Have Your Say !


The Southbank Heritage Study is finally at exhibition stage – about 2 1/2 years after we wrote to Council pointing out the many outstanding places that were somehow not heritage listed, and 8 months after the report was adopted by Council (by default, since the 5 Team Doyle Councillors had to declare a conflict of interest and so there no quorum).


The full study (7779 pages – which includes Fishermans Bend, to be covered in a future amendment) includes a history, a comprehensive update of all existing listings as well details on 18 new places, and another 9 places contributory to a heritage precinct centred along City Road, which includes a number of two bluestone laneways. This comprehensively protects what’s left of the industrial heritage of the area now called Southbank, once one of Melbourne’s most important locations for manufacturing and warehousing, from beer production to car manufacture and servicing to hat making. It also protects a few recent landmarks such as the 1980 sculpture ‘Vault’, infamously removed from the city square.


Heritage amendments always generate owner opposition so community support is important – we urge you to make a submission which you can do by just filling in the form on this page with something like the following :

“I support Southbank Heritage Amendment C305. Places such as the grand 1888 Castlemaine Brewery and the 1930 Spencer Street Bridge should have been protected long ago. The smaller industrial buildings clustered around City Road are the last remnants of the industrial heritage of Southbank, once such an important part of Melbourne’s history, and should be protected before its all swept away for apartment towers.”


Submissions are due by the 29th June.


Take the time to read it and absorb its content and recommendations. And remember you can have your say as is suggested in the newsletter with the link to do so.

Melbourne is changing. St Kilda Rd will soon be a very different vista both during and after the Metro construction for the new Metro Tunnel. With this new precinct it will change even further. Let’s retain what is the essence of our city. Heritage has real value.

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

Heritage listed homes can be a dream come true.


For many people an inner city home is a long cherished dream. A magnificent Victorian Terrace, perhaps a single storey workers cottage, maybe a home on an estate like Travancore in Flemington, constructed in the 1920s – or perhaps a unique mansion on St Vincent’s Place Albert Park, facing the St Vincent’s Place Gardens.


One thing all of these possibilities have in common is generally a Heritage Overlay listing. This can be something that simply protects the building from demolition, ensures the maintenance of the recorded facade and a nomination of the property as being part of the integral character of the area covered by the overlay.


However in some cases it can be quite strict with recommended colour schemes, protection orders on walls, windows, roofing and just about all facets of the building, especially if the building or property is built pre 1900.


The key to enjoying your new property may rest with these regulations and how to develop a comfortable living space in a 19th century building for a 21st century family. Essentially the wise move is to engage a qualified architect skilled in working with Heritage properties and older buildings, yet capable of creating genuine spacious living areas where possible and facilitating the luxury and comfort one might expect in a modern living space.


Andrew Fedorowicz F.R.A.I.A. is the principal Architect of Balance Architecture. He is highly experienced in developing and restoring Heritage properties. Heritage properties present entirely different issues to more modern buildings. High ceilings, solid plaster walls, slate roofing are the more obvious issues. Couple this with bluestone footings, rising damp, ancient wiring and slipshod ‘improvements’ over the life of the building, it’s really all about establishing a base point to start from. Add to this the very special requirements of a Heritage overlay, in terms of colours, materials and building integrity – an expert is required.


It’s a matter of ensuring the basics yet achieving the sense of space, warmth and liveability that is the hallmark of a well designed, architecturally sound building, a building that first and foremost is your home.


With many such properties it’s about achieving a full living area that makes the best use of both internal and external space. And most importantly, it’s about delivering a result that is energy neutral where possible and sustainable.

For a free consultation, please call 0418 341 445 and make an appointment. Alternatively please leave your details here or call 03 8696 9700 during business hours and leave a message.

balance logo 20150209a

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