Victoria Revisited. A Heritage Gem – Queenscliff.

When lockdown ends no doubt many of us will be looking to enjoy weekends away in regional Victoria. Once of the Heritage Gems within easy reach of Melbourne is the coastal haven that is Queenscliff. Once of Melbourne’s original seaside retreats the grandeur and beauty of this Victorian era township has been preserved and protected. Time for you to plan a visit and enjoy its splendour.

From May 10, 2019 a Balance article:

Take the time to visit one of Victoria’s oldest maritime townships – Queenscliff. For many years Queenscliff was the seaside location where Victorian era folk would ‘take the airs’.

It was serviced by the Queenscliff-Geelong Rail Link, after having travelled from Melbourne no doubt. The line was constructed in 1881 and Queenscliff Station itself was located on the foreshore of Swan Bay. The station is of a unique design having been specifically built to cater for the large numbers of tourists arriving and departing at ‘Peak Holiday’ times.

The holiday visitors often stayed at the major hotels, such as the Ozone, or alternatively at specially built Guest Houses such as Lathanstowe (where Anglican clergy and their families holidayed). The Ozone Hotel was built is 1881 (pictured below).

The Lathanstowe was built in 1882-83 (pictured below), the Queenscliff Hotel in 1887 and the Vue Grand Hotel also built in the 1880s.

Grand and imposing hotels were built to cater for the needs of both Melbourne’s gentry and high society, as well as wealthy graziers and miners from rural Victoria. A fine example, the Royal Hotel (pictured below) was built in the 1880s.

Queenscliff has many older, carefully restored homes as well as these hotels with many being included on the Victorian Heritage Register and enjoying National Trust protection.

Fort Queenscliff, the ‘other’ reason for its existence, was developed from 1806 onwards. Fort Queenscliff was the key component and played the commanding role in the defence of the entrance to Port Phillip Bay. The bay and its entrance was the most heavily defended British Port in the Southern Hemisphere at the time.

Take the time to visit ‘old’ Queenscliff. For many people it is the opportunity to step back in history and admire the many Italianate Victorian buildings and the infrastructure of the times that to some extent is still intact, very much a living heritage.

Heritage Advisory Service

The Heritage Advisor is an architect experienced in building conservation with detailed knowledge of buildings in the Borough. Advice is provided to the Council on proposals affecting the heritage precincts and buildings listed in the Queenscliffe Planning Scheme. This may concern precincts, individual buildings, trees or other elements in the streetscape.

The Heritage Advisor is available to consult with building owners, prospective purchasers, builders and designers. The advisor may be able to assist in the following ways:

  • Advising on colour schemes.
  • Locating early photographs of buildings to assist in restoration.
  • Designing building elements such as fences, verandas and suitable extensions and alterations in styles to match particular buildings.
  • Providing names of local suppliers or contractors for specialist building conservation work.
  • Identifying sources of funding for restoration works.
  • Recommending appropriate materials and finishes.

To make an appointment with the Borough’s Heritage Advisor please contact Customer Service on 03 5258 1377.

The Heritage Advisory Service is a partnership between state and local government and is funded jointly by the Borough of Queenscliffe and Heritage Victoria.

Source: queenscliffe.vic.gov.au

When considering Heritage precincts statewide, what an excellent program. If only other areas could adopt such a program.

Many buildings and property within the precinct are now heavily protected. The Victorian Government introduced the Queenscliff Heritage Advisory Service in 1980. At the same time the Queenscliff Heritage Restoration Fund was established to provide grants and low interest loans to assist property owners in carrying out approved restoration works.

Much of the direction taken in the Borough is the result of the urban conservation study undertaken in 1984. The current planning scheme for the Borough actually incorporates many of the findings of that study. It provides a good blueprint on the exacting standards required to achieve real heritage protection in such an area.

Today, if you as a property owner in the area contact the Advisory Service you can gain real assistance. From the Boroughs website here is a summary of what is offered.

Queenscliff – it’s a wonderful destination and a real inspiration to genuine aficionados of Victoria’s most interesting and inspiring heritage – be sure to include it in your travels.

For some such a visit may even prompt a purchase in the area. To facilitate renovations or restorations in the Queenscliff Heritage precinct, although there is the Heritage Advisory Service, you will need a qualified and experienced Heritage Architect to assist. With many of the town’s buildings individually Heritage Listed and the remaining areas all falling under defined Heritage Overlays there are definite requirements that must be considered and honoured with regard to such properties.

Andrew Fedorowicz (Fellow of the Australian Institute of Architects) a passionate Heritage Architect with decades of experience and a superb portfolio of previous projects  is expert at revitalising and restoring true Heritage vision to such properties. Call now on 0418 341 443 to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with Andrew, Balance Architecture’s Principal Architect , at your convenience (for your interest and assistance there are Heritage grants available for restorations and some maintenance in the Queenscliff township). Alternatively leave your details here for a prompt reply.

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

Living History in Daylesford/Hepburn Springs. Schedule a Post-Lockdown Visit to this Delightful Heritage Area

Whilst still in lockdown it’s a good time to start planning those ‘away weekends’. Daylesford/Hepburn Springs offer a delightful weekend getaway with plenty of fresh air, long walks and just the right amount of ‘culture’. This week we repeat an earlier popular blog from January 2019 –

Daylesford – The Enigma of Gold, Culture and the Healing Waters

Take the time to drive to to this delightful destination, about an hourfrom Melbourne, post-lockdown. Swimming is available at both Daylesford Lake and Jubilee Lake. 

A favourite destination for many is the town of Daylesford, about 100km west of Melbourne. Gold was discovered on Wombat Flats, now deep below Daylesford Lake, in 1852. These alluvial deposits were the forerunner to deep quartz mining, which continued until the 1930s. Gold – the foundation of another heritage town, in this case providing the bounty that built the magnificent buildings of Daylesford and Hepburn Springs.

Daylesford these days is better known as the Spa capital of Australia. It has long been renowned as a place to ‘take the waters’ and now features the Hepburn Spa complex and walking trails with many springs to sample the mineral waters on your way. (The Hepburn Mineral Springs Reserve is a 30 acre reserve surrounding the Spa Centre. It is heritage listed.)

It is also famous for the simply stunning buildings, its streetscape and the rolling hills, surrounding the extinct volcano – Wombat Hill, which overlooks the twin townships of Daylesford and Hepburn Springs.

In many ways it is a challenge to maintain the historical character of the precinct yet still facilitate the needs of the regular stream of tourists and the local population. From the early 1990s, the local Hepburn Shire Council has received royalties on all mineral waters sold on to beverage companies in Australia. The majority is bottled in Melbourne.

The funding then available has been used to develop the new Spa complex and other tourist related facilities.

The Hepburn Springs Bathhouse was first opened to the public in 1895 providing ‘social bathing’. The Hepburn architecture is predominantly Edwardian due to the bushfires in 1906 which effectively destroyed the original township, which was predominantly Victorian architecture as in nearby Daylesford.

In 1864, the local population determined to protect the mineral springs from mining. The migrant populations from Italy, Germany and England rated the mineral waters ‘more valuable than gold’. A bathhouse was constructed in the 1890s. It has been remodelled several times. It was mainly the efforts of the ‘Swiss Italians’ that saved the springs for posterity.

The most recent remodelling was completed in 2008. From what was effectively a rundown, red brick facility, a mix of Federation, Edwardian and other influences, constructed in the early part of the twentieth century, the Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa is now housed in a thoroughly modern complex, offering hydrotherapy, massage and beauty therapy. It is a tasteful extension and renovation that acknowledge the past yet provides the comforts of the present. The new development cost over $13 million.

For this week the other location to be visited is ‘The Convent Gallery’ or to give it its proper title ‘The Holy Cross Presentation Convent’.

Purchased by the Catholic Church in the 1880s as a presbytery for the local priest, it was originally built back in the 1860s as a private residence for the Gold Warden. In 1872 it was purchased by a successful Irish Pioneer, Mr. John Gillroy. Over the next decade Mr. Gilroy expanded the property with many grand extensions, likely including the prominent tower depicted here. The tower and extensions gave the property a ‘castle like’ appearance. It’s very likely the reason the local townsfolk dubbed the grand edifice Blarney Castle. 

From the 1890s, the church expanded the complex to accommodate nuns and boarders – opening in 1892. A chapel was added in 1904 with building continuing through until 1927, including the new North Wing and other additions. The accommodation wing was three storeys with an attic. No heating was provided and with massive costs in upkeep, the nuns moving to alternative accommodation, by the late 1970s the building and its gardens were derelict and neglected.

In 1988, it was purchased by a well-known local artist and ceramicist Tina Banitska. It was reopened on March 31st 1991 as the ‘Convent Gallery’. Since then there have been further rounds of renovation to the buildings and grounds that add new life to the original grandeur. These include two major glass fronted function rooms, a penthouse suite and the ‘Altar Bar and Lounge’.

Externally the building retains its strong Victorian architectural features. Sitting high on the slopes of Wombat Hill, it provides panoramic views to the north and west of Daylesford town and Hepburn Springs. It houses several individual Galleries, a large retail area, a café, the two function rooms and the penthouse suite. It also retains four tiny ‘nun’s cells’ – the original nun’s bedrooms. Perhaps a reflection on the very frugal and harsh past.

It is a real celebration of Art History and Culture. We thoroughly recommend a quiet drink in the ‘Altar Bar and Lounge’ and a toast to the former Archbishop of the Melbourne Diocese, Archbishop Carr. He envisioned the place to become ‘a source of light and edification’ back in 1891. It may well have taken over a hundred years to materialise, but the Convent Gallery is certainly that now and well worth a visit.

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

Balance Architecture Revisits Mid Century Modernism

Over the last few weeks several critics have complained that we only like ‘historical buildings’ as if that somehow disqualifies our opinion. Well, yes we do like historical buildings with their fine craftsmanship, artistry and detail but we also appreciate those Architects who, during the mid 20th century, looked to provide innovative and spacious living for home owners and public buildings – mid century modernism.

Balance Architecture invites owners of such dwellings and custodions of public buildings of this period to consider a full appraisal and report that can be utilised when applying for Heritage recognition and, ultimately, listing. 

From Bayside to Macleod, from Eastern Beach, Geelong to Black Rock and Beaumaris, these iconic buildings must be saved and preserved. 
 
In November 2018 we published the following article “Modernism – Time to Protect Mid Century Modernism with Heritage Listing” – read and enjoy:

Modernism – Time to Protect Mid Century Modernism with Heritage Listing

Many people seem to have a skewed view of what Heritage actually means. For a start it doesn’t just refer to architecture. But here that is our primary concern and interest. We live in an evolving city and society. Buildings perceived to be of Heritage significance are often grand mansions with the Italianate or greco embellishments of the mid to late 19th Century.

Where it became really interesting was in the mid 20th Century when Architects like Robyn Boyd and Harry Siedler started to visualise a different type of build for the Australian climate, its landscape and population density. Modernism was to define the future direction of residential architecture from the 1950s and ‘60s onwards.

What is Modernism?

Modernism is a more socially informed way of building spaces and items for living according to need and function. It could be best deemed as a cluster of design ideals, beginning at the start of the Twentieth Century, which stemmed from an aversion to the ornate excesses of the recent Victorian style, and a reaction to industrialisation.

It is generally recognised that Modernist design formally established in Europe in 1919, with the opening of the Bauhaus School of Design in Germany. The school incorporated the combination of arts and craft disciplines and innovators such as Walter Gropius, Mies Van Der Rohe and Le Corbusier. Frank Lloyd Wright, an American of this time, who derived much of his inspiration from the open living spaces of Japanese homes, also held huge influence on the following century of architects.

The philosophies and practice of these people and many others, evolved, traveled and in post WW2 became the defining philosophy for many architects and designers, thus this era is loosely dubbed Mid-Century.

Many extraordinary examples of public and domestic Mid-Century Architecture can be seen worldwide, Australia is no exception. Touched by freshness of the Modernist ethos, combined with the post-war boom time economy, suburbs, cities and costal regions became the location of many ‘Modern’ structures and interior design.

Examples of Australian domestic Modernism vary from the heritage listed houses of Harry Seidler and Robin Boyd, to classic 1960s pastel pre-fab tract housing – still sighted in the tea tree scrub of coastal towns to this day.

Modernist public buildings range from university faculties to suburban pools to the premier architectural icon of Australia – The Sydney Opera House.

Attributes that denote Modernist Mid-Century homes and design may be:

  • Use of the natural elements to regulate temperature, air-flow and efficiency of the home’s energy use eg: Solar Passive Design.
  • Flat or single angled rooflines.
  • Floor to ceiling windows.
  • Clean lines and open plan spaces.
  • Specific attention paid to the site pre-construction and the building’s placement within the block eg: The front of the house does not have to face the street.
  • Split-levels and sunken living areas.
  • Uninterrupted Indoor/outdoor areas.
  • Lack of decorative and ornate styling such as ceiling roses, iron lacework etc.
  • The use of new materials and technology from the era eg: laminate, stainless steel, large scale glass panes, plastics, concrete and also natural and textural surfaces of interest such as wood paneling, slate, shag carpets, woven curtains.

In Modernist furniture simple shapes, functionality, mass production, geometric forms, new textile design and the use of ‘modern’ materials such as stainless steel, are at the forefront.

As definitions and design theory within the 20th Century are endlessly debated, we’ll be inclusive and encompassing of all variations which may be titled Mid-century. From the pastel kitsch of 1950s domesticity, to the stark concrete monsters of Brutalist Architecture, the aim is to appreciate and discuss all.

Source: modernistaustralia.com

The desire to preserve this unique awakening of Australian architecture has been somewhat of a ‘slowburn’.

The activism became much more urgent in August last year when a number of iconic residences in Beaumaris, Caulfield, Studley Park and the Mornington Peninsula came under real threat of demolition and in two notable cases the properties were demolished.

The matter was canvassed widely in the Fairfax press at the time.

Online advocates fight to save Melbourne’s modernist masterpieces

Architecture enthusiasts are banding together against the wrecker’s ball.

When the Burgess house’s eagle-nest eyrie lit up at night, neighbours dubbed the building “Muckle Flugga”, after the Scottish lighthouse. With its flat roof, cantilevered balconies, extensive interior wood panelling and large fireplace, this 1957 Chancellor and Patrick designed home in bayside Beaumaris is a beacon of mid-century modernity.

Along with Studley Park and the Mornington Peninsula, Beaumaris is one of the “‘epicentres of mid-century modernity”, says Simon Reeves, architectural historian and director of Built Heritage. In the excitement of the post-war housing boom, young couples wanting to start families took to the new subdivisions of Studley Park and Beaumaris. The consequence of this development was a rich trove of mid-century modernist buildings.

“While there are some excellent pockets of mid-century housing in Toorak and South Yarra, Studley Park and Beaumaris have that historic cohesion,” Reeves says. “Like Palm Springs in California, it has a similar time frame and cohesion.”

Ironically, their modest simplicity has been one of the factors undermining the preservation of modernist buildings, says Rohan Storey, a heritage consultant who worked for National Trust for 20 years. “While the community accepts Victorian [era architecture as historically significant], the whole community doesn’t yet accept modernism as heritage. Some people still think they’re ugly, plain or ordinary. It’s a function of the types of houses they are and not enough time [having] elapsed.”

Over the past 15 years in Beaumaris, homes by well-known modernist architects such as Robin Boyd, Neil Clerehan and Roy Grounds have succumbed to demolition. But a sea change is occurring. Time is one factor. Mid-century modernism is sufficiently old enough, people are more interested and the internet and social media have raised awareness and celebrated these buildings for their clean lines, elegant detailing and simple indoor-outdoor living.

A new generation of mid-century fans – many of them designers – are coveting the area, according to interior designer Fiona Austin, founder of the website Beaumaris Modern. Other websites, such as Modernist Australia, post real-estate listings as mid-century homes come on the market. Increasingly, such sites and social media groups have become politically activist as well. Nothing galvanises a group more than seeing cherished houses succumb to the wrecking ball.

In Sydney, the Sirius building was saved largely through a campaign by the Save our Sirius website. In July, Modernist Australia raised awareness that emigre architect Anatol Kagan’s Lind house in Caulfield North was to be replaced by eight townhouses. The City of Glen Eira obtained an interim reprieve, and Planning Minister Richard Wynne this week granted an interim protection order.

“There’s no doubt that the advocacy by groups such as Modernist Australia influenced [Glen Eira] Council to show leadership on this issue,” says Felicity Watson, advocacy manager for National Trust of Australia (Victoria). “The rise of online interest groups is a great thing for heritage advocacy.”

Building on this grassroots advocacy, the trust aims to lobby local and state government to invest in heritage assessments and planning scheme amendments specifically targeting significant post-war places.

“We are currently working with a group of experts to develop a Suburban Modern campaign, to be launched in the coming months,” Watson says.

While councils are obliged to regularly do heritage reviews, post-war buildings rarely cross the radar. “The City of Glen Eira has not listed a single place built after 1940,” Storey says. “Unfortunately Beaumaris, in particular, is under siege by developers and from people who want to build McMansions.”

Prospective buyers have to compete with developers’ deep pockets eager to maximise typically large sites. But for how long? “Heritage saves the property forever and doesn’t rely on a good owner to save it until they sell it and it might be under threat again,” Storey says.

It’s in this spirit of raising awareness that Beaumaris Modern was launched.

“If Peter McIntyre’s house in Pasadena Avenue with its curved roof got knocked down there’s not another, it’s experimental,” Austin says. “Once it’s gone it’s gone. That’s the crux as to why they should be saved.”

Historic awareness travels upstream also. Having “ground-up” online resources can uncover new information contributing to the incremental knowledge of architectural and social history.

“There are no obscure architects,” says Reeves, whose website posts a “dictionary of unsung architects”. “These are just individuals whose work hasn’t been researched or written about. No one had heard of Kagan 10 years ago. It’s not that everything they ever designed is notable or worth heritage listing. It’s about putting them in context.”

Source: smh.com.au

Alas, the home in Beaumaris, designed by Architects Chancellor and Patrick in 1962, located at Mariemont Avenue, has been demolished.

‘Significant’ Chancellor and Patrick Bayside house demolished

A house in the Melbourne suburb of Beaumaris, designed by architects Chancellor and Patrick in 1962, has been demolished. The demolition took place on Monday 13 August, after a demolition permit was granted by the local council City of Bayside.

The house in Mariemont Avenue was included in a 2008 heritage study of inter- and post-war heritage in the Bayside area commissioned by the council and carried out by Heritage Alliance.

The house is listed as part of a collection of houses on Mariemont Avenue, which is home to eleven houses designed architects including John Baird, Kurt Popper and Brian O’Connor in addition to the now-demolished home by Chancellor and Patrick, which was identified as one of five “significant” houses.

“Although the work of these and other architects is well-represented in Beaumaris,” said the report, “there are very few instances where these houses survive in cohesive rows or in such close proximity.”

The house itself, the report goes on to say, “although slightly altered by overpainting, is an otherwise interesting example of the work of this important post-war firm.”

The house was sold in May 2017 for $2,315,000, according to realestate.com.au.

Fiona Austin, president of the Beaumaris Modern heritage preservation group, said that the fact that the only heritage citation available for the house was a decade old – and only evaluated the house in the context of the street – stymied attempts to secure intervention from Heritage Victoria.

She told ArchitectureAU that in the future the group would consider attempts to “bypass” the council by commissioning its own heritage studies of threatened properties.

The group is now turning its attention to a house on Beach Road, designed by Arthur Russell of Demaine, Russell, Trundle, Armstrong and Orton.

In April, after just a month, the council discontinued an independent heritage study of Beaumaris and Black Rock, one of Australia’s most dense collections of residential mid-century modernist architecture. The study would have identified properties for possible heritage listing.

The council instead adopted an opt-in system whereby the owners of the relevant properties will be able to self-nominate their properties for heritage controls.

Beaumaris is home to a proportionally large number of houses by some of Melbourne’s most significant modernist architects and practices, including Anatol Kagan, Yuncken Freeman and Chancellor and Patrick.

Rex Patrick of Chancellor and Patrick, lived in a house of his own design in nearby Cheltenham before moving to Beaumaris later in life.

Source: architectureau.com

More fortunately, Lind House in North Caulfield has been saved from the wreckers hammer and is now listed on the Victorian Heritage Register.

Located at 450 Dandenong Road, the Heritage Council determined that it is of cultural heritage significance to the State of Victoria and should be included on the Register.

The property’s features include motifs associated with European Modernism, such as a broad-eaved butterfly roof, window walls, feature stone cladding and articulation as an ‘upside down house’ with principal living areas at the upper level, creating the effect of an elevated volume.

The new state heritage controls now replace the local heritage controls which Council received in March 2018.

Glen Eira Mayor Cr Tony Athanasopoulos said in August 2017 Council lodged a nomination with the Executive Director of Heritage Victoria to include Lind House on the Victorian Heritage Register.

“The Executive Director recommended that Lind House was not of Victorian State heritage significance and that Council consider the property for local heritage protection only,” he said.

“Council objected to this recommendation which then escalated the matter to a Heritage Council hearing.”

Cr Tony Athanasopoulos said a hearing was held on 8 March into these submissions where Council argued that the intactness of the property and significance of the architect ─ Anatol Kagan ─ justified Lind House cultural heritage significance and should be included.

“The Committee disagreed with the Executive Director’s recommendation and agreed with Council’s arguments,” he said.

The Committee stated:

  • that it was persuaded by Glen Eira’s submissions in relation to the unique European design elements of the place, and its ability to demonstrate “first-hand” Modernist residential architecture;
  • that the intactness of the exterior elements are notable to a high degree; and
  • that the property is a fine and highly intact example of post-war Modernist residential architecture.

Mr Kagan was renowned for his contribution to mid-century modernist architecture in Melbourne during the post-war period. Council is embarking on an extensive program to review and update the heritage protection in Glen Eira. A Major Heritage Review of Glen Eira will commence in June to undertake a municipal-wide heritage review to identify gaps and protect significant heritage properties currently not identified within the Glen Eira Planning Scheme.

Source: gleneira.vic.gov.au

For the cynics, it’s good to be aware that these homes were designed for living in and not to be museum pieces. Large, open and expansive, it allowed for a style and comfort unknown in Australia prior to their construction.

Developers are attracted to these properties as they usually sit upon very large blocks in superb locations. The property demolished recently in Beaumaris had sold in May 2017 for $2,315,000. Consider that depending upon the redevelopment proposed the developer is aiming to triple or quadruple this initial investment.

The Victorian Heritage Register is in fact your passport to our history, our culture and dare we say it – our future. In this case Glen Eira Council were pro-active and saved a beautiful building from destruction. Yet in Beaumaris, Bayside Council is simply not supportive of preserving this valuable heritage.

As is demonstrated in both cases, it is only with citizen action that the case for Heritage preservation can effectively be put. The choice is yours. Stand by and watch – or get involved.


For further assistance in the preservation, renovation or Heritage Listing of your property call now on 0418 341 443. Andrew Fedorowicz, our Principal Architect will be pleased to assist you.  In rural Victoria appointments can be made for onsite visits, whilst in Melbourne you can schedule a virtual consultation, or alternatively, arrange for an onsite consultation post-lockdown (estimated to be mid October). Or you can simply click here to leave your details for a prompt reply. 

Heritage – it belongs to all of us.

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

Heritage – a Visual Reminder of Some of Melbourne’s Beautiful Buildings Now Demolished

Corkman Hotel

The Corkman Cowboys have now lost their appeals and unless they deem to progress to the High Court will each be enjoying a month holiday at Her Majesty’s Pleasure. Jail time, about time. 

Desecration of Heritage Buildings is not a new phenomenon. Through the 1950’s until around 1989 was the period when Whelan the Wrecker became a household name. Many of our most beautiful and prestigious buildings suffered demolition at the hands of the wreckers during this period. 

Venture to the lawns at the front of the Exhibition Buildings adjacent to Gertrude Street on Nicholson Street and you will find a curious collection of older masonry pieces and stone works jutting from the surface, remnants of the past glory of Melbourne’s early edifices, removed for replacement with bland, featureless sky scrapers. In the 1960s and 1970s you simply had to have a skyscraper, as a corporate citizen, or you just hadn’t ‘made it’.

This week we’d like to remind you of the simply stunning buildings removed from the CBD skyline with not even a pretence of facadism in those days. 

Melbourne’s Wonderful Demolished Buildings

THE FINKS BUILDING

276 Flinders Street

When built in 1880, this office block was Melbourne’s tallest at ten stories. In 1897 it, and most of the block of Finders Street that it stood on, was destroyed in a fire, one of the worst the city has seen. Only the facade was left, although the building was considered such an icon that it was rebuilt. In 1967 it was finally demolished outright. Present day, this stands in its spot:

MELBOURNE FISH MARKETS

Flinders St, between King and Spencer Streets

Of all of Melbourne’s vanished buildings, this one is probably the most spectacular. Built in 1890, for more than 50 years this was used as a commercial market for fish and other fresh produce. In the lead up to the Olympic games in 1956 it was decided to demolish a number of Melbourne’s older buildings in order to ‘modernise’ the look of the city. Sadly, incredibly, this was one of the buildings to go, although the demolition was not completed until 1959. It was replaced – sadly! incredibly! – with a carpark… the block now also shared by a nondescript office building:

THE FEDERAL HOTEL AND COFFEE PALACE

555 Collins Street

Built in 1888 to coincide with the Melbourne Centennial Exhibition (marking 100 years of Australian settlement), this was once one of the largest and most opulent hotels in the world. The first two floors housed impressive dining, reading, smoking and billiard rooms, with the remaining 5 stories given over to luxurious guest rooms. The interior was so impressive that the building became a tourist attraction in its own right:

s an added historical footnote, the hotel was also conceived as a ‘Coffee Palace’ as part of the 19th century temperance movement. No alcoholic beverages were served at the hotel when it was built, which was something of a fad at the time, as public drunkenness was perceived as a serious problem. This wonderful piece of architecture and history was demolished in 1973, the site sold for redevelopment. Pleas to have it saved as a heritage building were ignored by the Government of the time (there was no heritage protection legislation as we know it today). It was such a popular local landmark that thousands of people turned out to watch it go. This dreary brown box was built in its place:

THE MENZIES HOTEL

140 William Street

Built in 1867 to accommodate the visit of the Duke of Edinburgh, the Menzies was another of Melbourne’s most impressive luxury hotels. Among the famous guests who stayed there; Sarah Bernhardt, Alexander Graham Bell, Mark Twain (who helped stoke the hotel boilers as part of his fitness regime), Herbert Hoover and General Douglas Macarthur. In 1969 it was demolished to make way for, the admittedly pretty stylish, BHP Plaza:

WOOL BROKING PREMISES

111 Williams Street

Built in 1891 for the John Sanderson company, this block length building showed exactly how important the agricultural industry was in fledgling Australia. Demolished in 1969 to make way for the AMP Building, which is itself currently under redevelopment:

SCOTT’S HOTEL

444 Collins Street

Built in 1860, and substantially remodelled between 1910 and 1914, Scott’s hotel enjoyed a reputation for supplying some of Melbourne’s finest food and wine. Dame Nellie Melba and English cricket legend W.G.Grace were two among many notable people who stayed at the Scott, which was also a favourite haunt for local racing identities. Sold to the Royal Insurance Co in 1961, when it was Melbourne’s oldest continuously operating hotel, the building was demolished to make way for another in a series of drab office blocks (to the right of this picture):

THE ORIENTAL BANK

Corner Queen Street and Flinders Lane

Built in 1856 when the twenty year old city was still finding its feet (note the muddy track that is Queen St in the above photo), this Greek temple themed design was the product of a competition held by the bank among Melbourne’s architects. Unfortunately, the bank itself would go out of business in 1884, and this building was demolished shortly afterwards. The same spot today:

THE APA TOWER

Corner of Collins Street and Queen Street

A great example of Melbourne’s art deco heritage, the tower was added to this already existent building in 1929, making it the city’s tallest for 30 years. Taken over by the firm ‘Legal and General’ in the 1950s, it was demolished in 1969 when they wanted a more up to date, and considerably less stylish, headquarters:

COLONIAL MUTUAL LIFE BUILDING

316 Collins Street

The ‘Equitable Company’ set themselves the ambition of constructing ‘the grandest building in the southern hemisphere’ for their Melbourne headquarters. Which, with a five year construction and £500 000 price tag, this wonderful building may well have been. Taken over by Colonial Mutual in 1923, it would serve as their grand offices for thirty years. But high maintenance costs and outdated fixtures made the company want rid of it by the 50’s. A bland office block stands in its place today, with the logo ‘CML’ emblazoned across its street level pillars, to remind people of what once was:

THE AUSTRALIA BUILDING

43-45 Elizabeth Street

The world’s third tallest building, at 12 storeys, when it was constructed in 1889, this building dominated Melbourne’s skyline for decades. At one time visible from anywhere in the city, the Australia Building was also the first tall building to employ mechanical lifts (powered hydraulically by high pressure water pumped from the Yarra). In 1980 its distinctive red facade and ornate roof was demolished to make way for this:

THE EASTERN MARKETS

Exhibition Street between Bourke and Little Collins Streets

Established in 1847, the Eastern Market was embryonic Melbourne’s principal fresh produce market for thirty years, before being superseded by the Queen Victoria Markets in the 1870’s. The Eastern market survived for nearly another 100 years, however, operating as a flower market and tourist attraction. The markets were demolished in 1962 to make way for the uniquely stylised ‘Southern Cross Hotel’:

The ‘Southern Cross’ was undoubtedly one of Melbourne’s most striking buildings, although it attracted as much vitriol as admiration. Famous guests of the hotel included; The Beatles, Marlene Dietrich and Judy Garland. Frank Sinatra stayed there during his infamous 1974 tour of Australia, when he created a storm by referring to local female journalists as ‘hookers.’ And both the Brownlow Medal and the Logies were hosted in its function rooms. In 1999 it was sold off and slowly demolished, with the site sitting vacant for several years. The location is now occupied by this, considerably less flamboyant, mixed use building:

THE TIVOLI THEATRE

235 Bourke Street

Very few pictures or drawings remain of the Tivoli Theatre. When it opened in 1901 (from a design by William Pitt) it was originally named ‘Harry Rickards’ New Opera House’, after it’s first owner. The theatre presented a variety of live entertainments, including music, comedy and vaudeville. Harry Houdini,W.C. Fields and Chico Marx are among the famous names who performed there.

Sold by Rickards in 1912, it was renamed the Tivoli shortly after and continued to present live entertainment right through until the 1960s. Converted in that decade to a cinema, the fate of many of Melbourne’s old theatres, the building was destroyed by fire in 1967. The ‘Tivoli Arcade’ stands on the site today:

THE QUEEN VICTORIA BUILDINGS

Swanston Street, Between Bourke and Collins Streets

Built in 1888, the Queen Victoria Buildings ran the length of the block on Swanston Street, opposite the town hall. A rare local example of French Second Empire architecture, the elaborate facade and roof of the building was further ornamented by a number of statues, including a sizable one of the monarch it was named after. The building was used for high end retail shops and featured a glass topped arcade, The Queens Walk, that ran between Bourke and Collins:

In the 1960’s, the Melbourne City Council began to consider the construction of a large public park in the city centre. Across a decade or more, it gradually acquired parts of the Queen Victoria – and other adjacent – buildings for this purpose. Demolition commenced in the late 1960’s and took several years (The Regent Hotel was also acquired and scheduled to be knocked down as part of the same project, but was saved by a union ban). The new open space was dubbed ‘City Square’:

Windswept and largely ignored, part of it was sold for development in the 1990s and the Westin Hotel was built on this section. The remainder of the park was redesigned and remains for public use:

MELBOURNE/QUEEN VICTORIA HOSPITAL

172 – 254 Lonsdale Street

Built in 1911 of bluestone, with stylish towers and iron railings, the Melbourne was almost too elegant to be a hospital. It’s graceful facade was further complemented by a lush garden (visible above) that ran around two sides of the grounds. Initially home to the principal hospital for the city, in 1946 it was reconstituted as a specialised institution for women and children (and was solely staffed by women for a time), and renamed the Queen Victoria. The hospital closed in 1987 and the site was then used for a variety of unlikely purposes, including a mini golf course and a craft market. In 1992 the site was purchased by a development group and three of the four hospital buildings demolished. The bulk of the property was then turned into a mixed commercial premises, the QV Building:

The one remaining hospital building was refurbished and returned to its previous use, once again offering care to women and children, in 1994.

CAFE AUSTRALIA

264 – 270 Collins Street

One of Australia’s most famous architects, Walter Burley Griffin, designed the sumptuous Cafe Australia, a remodelling of an existing cafe on Collins Street. Opening in 1916, the cafe bore all of Griffin’s trademarks; an elaborate facade and entryway, delicate concrete ornamentation and highly stylised interiors.

Cafe Australia was only shortlived, however. It closed and demolished in 1938 and was replaced by the similarly named Hotel Australia, which borrowed much from Griffin’s design, but lacked the overall panache of the previous establishment.

This building was then reworked into the current occupant of the site, ‘Australia on Collins’, an up market retail space.

Heritage is what gives cities and towns and our nation it’s character. It must be respected and protected so that future generations can appreciate just how we have come to live in this wide brown land.

From Victorian pomp and grandeur to the rather abstract and visually challenging lines of Federation Square – it’s simply our heritage, our imprimatur – it’s certainly worth preserving.

Heritage is Precious – Once It’s Gone It’s Lost Forever – Protect It.

Facadism – The Token Gesture by Developers Towards Heritage Preservation.

Former ANZ Bank Building, Clarendon Street, South Melbourne.

In the last week in South Melbourne we have been reminded of the reality of facadism. Work has commenced on the seven-storey project to the rear of the former ANZ Bank in Clarendon Street – the demolition of the meticulously planned and implemented 1970’s addition to the rear of the original Heritage Listed banking chambers. At the time the construction was supervised by the National Trust, we believe to ensure it was in keeping with the original Heritage Listing of the building. It has now been demolished, as well as the original 19th Century shop and dwelling next door. Viewed from the laneway the shop was as originally constructed. Hawthorn bricks laid by convict labour, original windows, framing and glass all now removed. What is left is a façade – you can see daylight through the front door and windows onto Clarendon Street.

Demolition of the rear of the former ANZ Bank building.

Facadism is a blight on our Heritage precincts. We have addressed the subject earlier this year in February (February 16, 2021) and again in March (March 18, 2021).  Basically the City of Melbourne has cried “Enough!” and such developments within the City of Melbourne municipality will now be heavily restricted with regards to facadism. 

Seeing daylight through the facade left behind.

As the previous article stated facadism is the mask used by Developers. In inner city locations such as South Melbourne, Collingwood, Richmond and Abbotsford no such protection as that afforded by the City of Melbourne Amendments is available, so the destruction continues.

When will the City of Port Melbourne decide “Enough is enough?”

This is not just an issue in Melbourne, it’s a universal tactic employed by Developers and their Architects to the detriment of Historical Heritage Buildings world-wide. London, in particular, has suffered much with the excesses of facadism. From the Architectural Review, January 2nd 2018, reprint of an article from The Gentle Author

We must stand up to the creeping plague of facadism, an infection spreading across the developments of London

As if I were being poked repeatedly in the eye with a blunt stick, I cannot avoid becoming increasingly aware of a painfully cynical trend in architecture that threatens to turn London into the backlot of an abandoned movie studio. If walls could speak, these would tell tales of bad compromises and angry developers who, dissatisfied with the meagre notion of repair and reuse, are driven solely by remorseless greed.

Meanwhile, bullied into sacrificing historic buildings of merit, cowed planning authorities must take consolation in the small mercy of retaining a facade. The result is that architects are humiliated into creating passive-aggressive structures – gross hybrids of conflicted intentions that scream ‘Look what you made me do!’ in bitter petulant resentment.

At present in Spitalfields, we are presented with a textbook example of such an affront – the London Fruit and Wool Exchange, a high-quality building from 1927 by architect Sydney Perks, enhanced by wooden parquet floors, careful detailing and significant craft elements throughout. In recent decades, it was home to more than a hundred independent businesses employing local people. This redevelopment was forced through by the former Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, against the unanimous wishes of Tower Hamlets’ planning committee, and before construction commenced it was pre-let to a single tenant, Ashurst, an international legal corporation.

The Duke of Cambridge dating from 1823 with its new shiny crown courtesy of Guy Hollaway Architects.

Axis Architects, working for the developer Exemplar, retained only the frontage of the building with its stone cornice and brick wall. Currently, precast panels of ‘bricks’ and ‘stone’ are being hung on the steel structure that sits behind it. These panels of bricks have an artful irregularity designed into them and an attempt is being made to match the tone of the cast ‘stone’ with the actual stone on the fragment of the earlier building. Yet these panels are already becoming chipped and damaged even as they are being put in place, and no one is fooled by this patronising approach to co-ordinate the old and the new. Indeed, the conflict between these elements manifests the conflict of interests that produced this ungainly chimera.

‘A kind of authenticity’ is the language of British Land’s oxymoronic attempt to sell facadism in the publicity for its proposed Norton Folgate office development by Stanton Williams, where it shows an image of the front wall of a 19th-century warehouse pasted onto the lower floors of a towering office block as if it were a Penny Black glued onto a Jiffy bag. This misguided notion assumes there might be 57 varieties of authenticity, when ‘authentic’ is not a relative term – something is either authentic or it is phoney.

Alan Sugar’s development of the 13th century The White Hart pub by Rolfe Judd

I fear Spitalfields is quickly becoming the epicentre of facadism in London, with the recent completion of Alan Sugar’s shameless redevelopment of The White Hart, dating from 1240, into a cylindrical tower block designed by Rolfe Judd with just the outer wall of one of London’s most historic taverns stuck on the front. 

Meanwhile up the road in Bethnal Green, The Duke of Cambridge, dating from 1823, has had an aggressively Modernist steel and glass building forcibly inserted into the shell of its dignified brick structure by Guy Hollaway Architects on behalf of Heath Holdings. Such is the conflict between the old and the new, you can almost feel the humiliation and pain of the original building. The ugliness of the outcome is a pertinent slap in the face, reminding us how blatantly any concern for architecture is being sacrificed in this approach. This disastrous hybrid is an unfortunate totem of where we are now, an object lesson for architectural students of what not to do, and we may be assured future generations will laugh in horror and derision at the folly of it. 

The carcass of the London Fruit and Wool Exchange, designed in 1927 by architect Sydney Perks.

Sticking a new building behind the shell of the former building in this manner is a pitiful way to go about things. It is not worthy of the term architecture. As resources grow ever fewer, the practice of sacrificing good-quality buildings for cheapjack disposable replacements cannot be justified. The default choice must always be to repurpose and reconfigure existing buildings. Some of the greatest of our cathedrals and country houses are the outcome of this approach to architecture, palimpsests in which the history of the building’s evolution can be read by the perceptive viewer.

In every case, it is paramount that attention be paid to any structure as an architectural whole, rather than simply sticking a new shed behind an old facade. Taking existing buildings and reworking them sympathetically to serve new purposes requires much more sophisticated thinking from architects and developers than is in evidence in these hideous structures, which manifest the lamentable trend of facadism that blights our age.

Photographs courtesy of The Gentle Author


With many buildings ‘protected’ by local government Heritage Overlays the simple fact is that the original buildings are currently not properly listed in terms of the full three dimensional composition of the nominated properties. Facadism sees the demolition and removal of significant craftsmanship and ornamental features. These are simply not undertaken in modern construction methodologies and finishings. 

One of the worst examples of the absurdity of facadism is in Market Street, South Melbourne . The façade of an older warehouse stands in front of a new forecourt and multi-storey, modern apartment block. It’s a statement, it screams “We were forced to do this” and, no doubt, in ten year’s time will be condemned and removed on safety implication

Warehouse facade in Market Street, South Melbourne dwarfed by apartment block.

The State Government must move to legislate to ensure all Local Government will follow the leadership of the City of Melbourne in regard to facadism – there must be an end to such rampant development and Local Councils must step up and take more responsibility. The  building demolished in South Melbourne this week hardly rated a mention in the Developer’s plans. With such a significant Heritage Listed building next door, and the Clarendon Street shopping precinct also Listed (a State treasure) you might expect more interest from the City of Port Philip Council? The development was overseen and passed by one Officer from the Planning Department, there was no discussion, no debate and, frankly, no interest. It is simply not good enough. 


Heritage is Precious – Once It’s Gone It’s Lost Forever – Protect It. 

Heritage Town of Victoria’s Goldrush Era

Currently Balance Architecture is working on several projects in the greater Bendigo area. The first is a rather grand and statuesque home with Edwardian origins, first constructed in approximately 1903. Like many such properties it has seen a number of expansions and additions, not to mention some dubious renovations as was the fashion of the time when changes were made during the 1950s through to the 1970s. It was all about “modernising” whatever the cost and the removal of older, more ornate features to achieve the popular mid-century modern genre of the times. The second project is the restoration of a Miner’s Cottage. In both instances Principal Architect for Balance Architecture, Andrew Fedorowicz, will restore the properties to a condition befitting their Heritage status as well as according superb liveability and comfort. 

Bendigo features some magnificent Heritage properties, the result of the fabulous wealth achieved during the Victorian Goldrush in the area. Fortuna Villa is one of these extraordinary properties. In 2018 we published an article detailing its history and architecture. It’s well worth re-visiting so we are taking the opportunity to republish it here in full. It’s quite the read, so sit back, pour yourself a coffee or a cup of tea and enjoy. 

Fortuna Villa – Riches beyond imagination

Gold – that beautiful precious metal – is what Bendigo is built upon. This week we look at one of Bendigo’s most famous Mansions – Fortuna Villa, a building of over 40 rooms. Its original owner was George Lansell, a very successful mining investor. George invested in deep mining of Quartz reefs. He went deeper than anyone had before him and his reward was fabulous wealth. His home was full of exotica from all over the planet – his garden too was filled with rare and exotic plants from mystical and secret places, most of which are now long gone.

Bendigo has produced over 9 billion dollars worth of Gold since the 1850s – that’s $9,000,000,000, the second highest producing Goldfield in Australia to Kalgoorlie. No wonder historic, elaborate bank buildings line the streets of old Bendigo. Originally discovered by the wives of two farm workers on a pastoral lease, a Mrs Kennedy and a Mrs Farrell, alluvial gold mining soon made way to deep shaft mining after 10 years. After 100 years the Bendigo Goldfield represented the largest concentration of deep mine shafts for Gold anywhere in the world.

George Lansell was born in 1823 in Kent, England. As a young man, George and his two brothers emigrated to Echunga in South Australia to ‘pan for Gold’. The Lansells were soap and candle makers by trade. By late in 1853 George Lansell and his brothers Wooten and William had moved to Bendigo and set up their business as butchers, soap and candle manufacturers. By 1855 Stockbrokers were visiting George and encouraging him to invest n deep shaft mining. By 1860 he had invested, lost and reinvested a number of times. He was learning what was required to be successful at this type of mining. By 1865 – a bad year for mining in Bendigo – Lansell took advantage of the tough times and bought up many shares in the Advance Mining Company and Cinderella Mine. He insisted that the miners go deeper than ever before and from then on he and his companies reaped massive rewards. By the 1870s he had accumulated a large fortune from the Garden Gully Mine and he then purchased the 180 mine. Although he was initially always on the edge of financial ruin, his methods paid off and he became a Millionaire, a philanthropist and returned to London. He was petitioned by the Bendigo Mining industry to return and in the late 1880s he did return. George continued to build onto the house Fortuna he purchased in 1871. He collected furniture, sculptures and art from around the globe. Outside he designed a spacious estate featuring walks, lakes and imported plants and flora. He died in 1906 with his second wife surviving him until 1933. His mansion was in fact directly opposite his prosperous Fortuna Mine.

His second wife Edith and their six children lived there, she remained there until her death. He commenced his lavish building program immediately after he purchased the property in 1871.

Generally described as ‘over the top’, it was opulent and went far beyond being utilitarian. Drapes covered faux windows, mantle pieces appeared from nowhere. The impression was one of immense wealth – and power.

George Lansell enjoyed the beauty of classical Europe and the Orient and the ‘villa’ very much reflected his personal style and tastes.

The house came close to being demolished after the death of his second wife Edith Lansell. Edith had continued to add to the house and its contents up until her death. One of the interlinked mining companies sold off the contents of the house with much of the collection saved. Many of the items have been displayed in the Post Office Gallery in Bendigo and the Bendigo Art Gallery.

By 1942 it had been acquired by the Federal Government Department of Defence and used as a Map Making facility during WWII and remained in the hands of the Defence Department until 2008.

It is now in the hands of a private owner who permits regular tours and public access after 65 years of being closed.

According to the Heritage Council of Victoria, Fortuna Villa’s description is as follows:

“The Villa is a rambling three storey asymmetrical rendered brick mansion, in a variety of styles , predominantly French Second Empire and Queen Anne”, reflecting the various periods of construction. Cast Iron Balconies decorate the North, East and West elevations. The original house, purchased in 1971, is encompassed in the centre of the present house and is much altered. Originally it was designed in 1857 and extended to the further designs of Bendigo Architects Vahland and Getzschmann, Emil Mauermann and William Beebe.

By the early Twentieth Century, Lansell had expanded the house to over 40 rooms, one of the largest in Victoria. Lansell transformed the industrial site of settling ponds and tailings dumps into spacious gardens and ornamental lakes, extravagant fountains and follies, with pathways and exotic plantings.

The estate is actually located atop of the rich New Chum reef.

How is it significant?

Fortuna satisfies the following criterion for inclusion in the Victorian Heritage Register:

  • Criterion A Importance to the course, or pattern, of Victoria’s cultural history
  • Criterion B Possession of uncommon, rare or endangered aspects of Victoria’s cultural history
  • Criterion C Potential to yield information that will contribute to an understanding of Victoria’s cultural history
  • Criterion D Importance in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a class of cultural places and objects
  • Criterion E Importance in exhibiting particular aesthetic characteristics
  • Criterion H Special association with the life or works of a person, or group of persons, of importance in Victoria’s history.

Why is it significant?

Fortuna is significant at the State level for the following reasons:

Fortuna demonstrates key historic phases of Victoria’s history, notably the gold mining era, the development of the City of Bendigo and the history of defence in the state. The Fortuna cultural landscape is associated with the gold mining industry of Bendigo, particularly the extraction of gold from the richest quartz reef in the world in the nineteenth century, which had a significant influence on the settlement of Bendigo. (Criterion A)

Fortuna is an outstanding demonstration of the wealth and prosperity of Bendigo and Victoria during the gold rush period. The quartz-crushing works attached to the mansion represent a direct link between its owners’ wealth and its source. Fortuna is historically significant as the home of two of Australia’s wealthiest gold-mining families, Christopher and Theodore Ballerstedt, the earliest successful reef miners on the Bendigo goldfields. These men are often referred to as Australia’s first mining magnates, and George Lansell, known as the ‘Quartz King’, one of Australia’s most successful and adventurous nineteenth century mine owners. Although there were no mines on the Fortuna site, the estate was developed largely on the waste from Lansell’s 180 mine, north of Fortuna, which was one of the richest mines in Bendigo. The ore treatment site was gradually transformed into a picturesque landscape of lakes and gardens. Fortuna demonstrates the lavish lifestyle of the very wealthy families of Victoria’s gold-rush period. (Criterion A)

Fortuna is an example of the large private properties appropriated by the military during World War II, and has been in Defence control since 1942, when it was acquired as a base for mapping activities. It was the headquarters of the Survey Corps, later the Army Survey Regiment, until 1966 when it became the Defence Imagery and Geospatial Organisation (DIGO). The work of the regiment was highly important for the war effort, as preparing maps was a matter of urgency. New techniques based on American methods were developed at Fortuna, including innovations in aerial photographic surveys, and cartographic and lithographic techniques. (Criterion A)

Fortuna has a number of features which are rare in Victoria. It was rare for such a lavish house to be built so close to the industrial works that were source of the wealth that created it, in this case the crushing works for the ore from the Ballerstedt and later the Lansell gold mines. This reflects the need for security to protect the gold produced on the site. The survival of a nineteenth century villa estate, with a grand house surrounded by its original garden, is also unusual in an urban setting, and many of Fortuna’s garden structures, such as the iron fountain, rotunda and iron arbour are now relatively rare. Other rare features at Fortuna include the Pompeii fountain and the Roman bath, whose significance is increased by its origin as a tailings treatment pool built by the Ballerstedts in the 1860s. (Criterion B)

Fortuna has archaeological significance for its potential to contain historical archaeological features, deposits and objects associated with the establishment, development and use of the place. In particular the battery house is likely to contain archaeological features and relics associated with the operation of Lansell’s quartz crushing battery (and possibly remains of an earlier battery belonging to Ballerstedt), and other mining activities. 

The area in the direct vicinity of the house has the potential to contain historical archaeological features, deposits and objects associated with the construction and use of the place, including sub-floor deposits, refuse and garden or landscape features. (Criterion C)

Fortuna is an outstanding and relatively intact example of an extensive nineteenth century villa estate. The house, developed over several decades, is significant as one of the grandest residences built in Victoria in the nineteenth century. The villa is significant for its outstanding collection of stained and etched glass windows, for its ornate plaster and pressed metal ceilings and parquet floors, and for its now rare intact early bathrooms. The conservatory is significant for its outstanding glass workmanship, and is regarded as among the most important examples of its kind in Australia. The Pompeii fountain is unique in Victoria and indeed in Australia. The Roman bath is significant as a rare feature in a nineteenth century villa, and is the only known surviving private swimming pool from this period in Victoria. (Criterion D)

Fortuna is aesthetically significant for its decorative architecture, its remaining interiors and for its landscape setting and garden buildings and structures. The picturesque landscape extensively planted with trees, shrubs, garden beds and lawns is located on high ground that retains an undulating and modified land form of a former mining site with terracing, walls, steps, fences and gates, roads and paths and a lake, being a former settling pond. The contrasting and extensive plantings consisting of conifers, evergreen and deciduous trees, palms, shrubs, herbaceous plants, camellias and roses form a garden of aesthetic significance. Fortuna’s gardens, at their peak, were a marvel of aesthetic design, and many significant plantings remain. (Criterion E)

Fortuna is inextricably linked with George Lansell, the ‘Quartz King’, Australia’s first gold mining millionaire, who is credited with being the driving force behind much of Bendigo’s early prosperity. Lansell made a significant contribution to the mining industry in Bendigo and is credited with the introduction of technologies such as the diamond drill for quartz mining. Fortuna Villa and its grounds were Lansell’s passions and he decorated them extravagantly. (Criterion H)

Fortuna is also significant for the following reasons, but not at the State level:

Fortuna is of historical significance at a local level for its association with the history of Bendigo.

Fortuna is a historic landmark in Bendigo. It symbolises the founding of the town, and is important as a reference point in the community’s sense of identity. Many of the town’s citizens have worked on the site and several active community-based social groups have been formed to actively promote the history and importance of the site. The community, through the City of Greater Bendigo, has shown a profound interest in the future of the site.

Fortuna is significant for its association with one of Australia’s wealthiest gold magnates, Christopher Ballerstedt, who played an important role in the development of Bendigo’s gold mining industry. It is a demonstration of the work of the prominent Bendigo architects, Vahland & Getschmann, E Maurmann and W Beebe.

Source: vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au


All in all a rather significant building and a spectacular history, but there is a final chapter.

In 2017 the Fortuna Villa Estate was released for public sale. The masterplan offers modern housing – houses and townhouses positioned in a horseshoe configuration facing back at the Estate’s Lake and Historic Mansion.

According to the Estate’s website it consists of “79 contemporary architectural residences on one of Bendigo’s most renowned locations.”

You can view the development here

For us it certainly provides a major juxtaposition to the eccentricity and charm of the old estate. But you will experience “spectacular views of gardens, lake, historic villa and uninterrupted views over Bendigo”.

The last question is whether it resonates with the Heritage Listing and its reasons for protecting the original Fortuna Villa. We’ll let you be the judge of that.

Restoring your property to its true Heritage configuration will add value, not to mention immense personal pleasure and, if done correctly, genuine liveability to your home. If your property is Heritage Listed or part of a Heritage Overlay contact Balance Architecture now for a free consultation to discuss possible renovation and restoration. Call 0418 341 443 and speak directly with our Principal Architect, Andrew Fedorowicz.  Alternatively, leave your details here for a prompt response and scheduled appointment. Create the home you’ve always dreamed of with Balance Architecture.  

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

No Development for Sites of Illegal Heritage Demolition for Up To 10 Years.

It would appear that new legislation has been implemented to control the activities of rogue developers such as the Corkman Cowboys. Back in February this year (2021) the Victorian government was to introduce legislation into Parliament that would preclude development on a property for up to a decade if Heritage buildings have been illegally demolished.

A comprehensive analysis of the proposed legislation and the reasoning behind it was published by ABC News February 2nd, 2021. Read about it here:

Victorian Government plans to block property development if owners unlawfully demolish heritage buildings

The Victorian Government will introduce legislation into Parliament today which could stop development on a property for up to a decade if heritage buildings are illegally demolished.

Key points:

  • New legislation has partly been prompted by the controversial Corkman hotel demolition in 2016
  • The laws would stop future development on a site for 10 years if heritage buildings were illegally demolished
  • ·       The Government hopes the changes will remove any financial incentive for unlawful heritage demolition

The legislation will cover buildings that have been unlawfully demolished in full or in part and where the owners have been charged with unlawful demolition.

Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne said the legislation targeted developers who did the wrong thing.

“These new laws remove the financial incentive to illegally demolish buildings by potentially stopping development of the land for up to 10 years,” he said. “This means that they can no longer expect to reap windfall gains from just selling or rebuilding on their land.”

New laws partly prompted by Corkman demolition

Mr Wynne said the legislation was, in part, prompted by the unlawful demolition of the 160-year-old Corkman Irish Pub in Carlton in 2016.

The developers who demolished the Melbourne pub were jailed for a month and ordered to pay more than $400,000 in fines and legal costs.

The Corkman Pub, formerly known as the Carlton Inn Hotel, was built in 1858.

Although it was not on the Victorian Heritage Register, it was covered by heritage rules.

The developers are appealing a contempt of court conviction and sentence.

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) yesterday amended an enforcement order over the Corkman site to require a park to be built there by April 30.

‘Stringent protection’ for heritage buildings

Mr Wynne said the Corkman demolition was “unprecedented in planning in the state of Victoria” and strong action to protect heritage buildings was needed.

“We must put in place the most stringent protections possible and we are getting that through this legislation,” he said.

“It does not only deal with the Corkman matter but other attempts by people whose motives may not be essentially about ensuring the heritage protection of their buildings.”

He said there had also been issues around so-called “demolition by neglect”, where people were not willing or able to pay the cost of maintaining their heritage buildings.

The bill will also enable existing permits to be revoked and allow for new permits to be issued for specific purposes, such as building a park or reconstruction or repair of the heritage building.

These new provisions are a significant strengthening of the current enforcement regime and are expected to act as a powerful deterrent to the unlawful demolition of buildings of heritage significance.

The minister said the reform complemented measures the Government introduced in 2017, which made it an indictable offence for a builder or person managing building work to knowingly carry out works without a permit or in the contravention of the Building Act, the regulations or their permit.

It is also high time that the Victorian government policed property owners and developers who practice ‘demolition by neglect’, a rather appalling tactic to gain access to land locked into Heritage Overlays or properties covered only by Council policy at local government level.

Too often these properties are allowed to slide into a situation where they become vandalised, suffer at the hands of arsonists or,through complete lack of maintenance, simply topple over or fall down.

If these properties carried a Heritage Listing from the Heritage Council of Victoria the owners could be ordered by Heritage Victoria restore the buildings, or in extreme cases, Heritage Victoria could make orders to independent contractors to remedy and restore damage. All costs are then born by the property owner.

The National Trust Advocacy Team have recognised the dire nature of this current problem and are currently campaigning to formulate policy and issues at local government level. An extensive report was commissioned and delivered in 2013. Please take the time to read it. Here is the link to the report.

If you truly value Heritage now is the time to be vigilant. For those who value our Heritage Architecture whether it’s Georgian, Victorian or Mid-Century Modern, it really is time to speak up. Contact your local Council, Heritage Victoria or the National Trust and ensure all planning regulations are adhered to and due respect is given to Heritage Listings and Overlays. Value Heritage – once it’s gone it’s gone forever.

Heritage is Precious – Protect it.

The Heritage Home – Finding and Restoring Your Forever Home.

The current Covid lockdowns and the change in working patterns see many people working from home, experiencing major changes in lifestyle. People who were formerly nine to five commuters are looking for a better quality of life and the quest to find the right property to live in sees growing numbers searching for and purchasing ‘Heritage’ properties both in Melbourne, regional cities and rural locations. 

Heritage Architecture 

Purchasing a Heritage Listed property or a property covered by a Heritage Overlay introduces a raft of issues buyers may never have experienced previously or even considered. It’s a sensible plan to enlist the services of a qualified and experienced Architect – both prior to purchase and after.

Projects 

Prior to purchase your Heritage Architect can provide you with an accurate Condition Report that is prepared with a twofold purpose. The more obvious section is the current state of the property and its building/s in terms of Heritage Status; previous alterations, current necessary repairs or restorations, the age and status of the property in terms of it’s listing or the applicable Heritage Overlay. What are the limitations, what can be achieved in terms of liveability?

The second part of the Heritage Report is more practical. Most older buildings and structures require quite basic refurbishments – electrical, plumbing, roofing, plastering and flooring to name but a few areas where restoration can be both difficult and expensive. It is far more practical to have a thorough understanding of what may be required prior to purchase and a sensible appraisal of what costs may be involved to restore and rectify any such issues. 

Architecture 

Post purchase your Heritage Architect can scope out your restoration plan to ensure you arrive at a comfortable, liveableresidence that is further enhanced by the tasteful refurbishment of all Heritage features – verandas, Victorian tiling, Heritage colour schemes, roofing (slate or wrought iron), solid plastering, decorative mouldings (internal and external), timber architraves, period wall paper – the list goes on. 

Planning with a Heritage Architect ensures that all such features and fittings are authentic and yet practical with most residential homes of 80-100 year’s old – or older – there will be some inappropriate renovations and additions, likely not included in the Heritage Listings or items of mandatory retained features. In many cases there are opportunities to create a comfortable, modern living space, yet retain the genuine Heritage ‘feel’ of the property by cleverly rectifying the mistakes of the past. 


A sensible and progressive restoration plan; a purchase based on realistic appraisal, expert assessment and advice formulated through genuine experience and expertise. 


Andrew Fedorowicz is an experienced and competent Heritage Architect – a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Architects. Over the years Andrew has managed a wide range of Heritage Projects, both public and residential, (currently Andrew has designed and supervised the construction of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens Fernery, a gothic revival of the original 19th century design). 

Call Andrew now on 0418 341 443 to schedule a consultation or leave your details here for a prompt reply. Create the home you truly desire and with competent and expert advice restore your property to its former glory. Add real value and, at the same time, ensure your home stands for another 100 years, a true vestige of the past, a beautiful home resplendent in the craftsmanship and artisanship of years gone by – yet a comfortable, livable home for your family and generations to come. 


Heritage – It Matters. Preserve It.  

Russell’s Old Corner Shop. Built in 1850 (approx) – For Sale.

328-330 King Street, Melbourne’s oldest home.

Located at 328 to 330 King Street, Melbourne, on the south east corner of Latrobe Street, the building formerly known as Russell’s The Old Corner Shop is now officially offered for sale. Requiring significant work – the Latrobe Street wall has been braced by the City of Melbourne for a number of years now, the building is a remarkable remnant of the early Gold Rush era of Melbourne.

We have previously profiled the property in an article published in September, 2017. You can revisit it here.

Bracing of Russell’s Old Corner Shop in Latrobe Street

The Russel family have owned the building for over 120 years. Lola Russell’s (the current owner) Grandfather purchased the building in 1899 and converted it to a general store and newsagency. 

The property is to be sold as a commercial site, with the pitch ‘Ready for refurbishment and restoration’ from commercialrealestate.com.au,  featuring an article by Alanah Frost from the Herald Sun on July 13, 2021.

Melbourne’s oldest home for sale for first time in 100+ years

Melbourne’s oldest home has hit the market for the first time in 120 years, offering up a nugget of gold rush era history.

Built in about 1850, when modern Melbourne was just 15 years old, the 328-330 King St property is thought to be the city’s longest-standing building.

Once a merchandise store for those heading to the goldfields, it’s now officially been listed for sale for $2.9m-plus.

Lola Russell and husband George Dixon outside their historic home surrounded by Melbourne’s modern CBD.
The pair operated a cafe downstairs, known as Russell’s Old Corner Shop.

For the last century, during which it became known as Russell’s Old Corner Shop, the corner store was home to Lola Russel and her husband George Dixon.

Ms Russell, now in her late 90s and in an aged-care facility, was born and lived at the property for most of her life before her husband died in 2017.

The pair, who were both actors, lived in the original living quarters above and operated a cafe downstairs.

But due to her age and health, and the declining state of the building, Ms Russell’s family have been left with no option but to sell the heritage-listed property.

Ms Russell lived at the property for most of her life.
It’s now hit the market for the first time in more than 100 years.

In 2019, family spokesman Owen Dixon said he wanted to see the house, which has been in the family for two generations, restored.

But he said the priority was Ms Russell’s health and settling her into appropriate aged care.

“We’d like to see it used as a cafe downstairs and maybe turned into a museum upstairs,” he said.

“George and Lola loved the theatrical and film industries — we’d be willing to accommodate that, but it’s got to work with the major plan.”

At one point, the National Trust had been developing a plan and fundraising to save the building but it’s believed that has since fallen through.

Lola Russell and George Dixon look out at the city from the cafe. Picture: David Caird

Allard Shelton agents Patrick Barnes and Joseph Walton said they hoped someone would step in and look after the iconic building, which was steeped in Melbourne’s history.

“We’re very much engaged and attune to the historical and heritage nature of the building and one of the best ways to refer to it is, that we see it as being a bit of a passion project,” they said.

“It’s such an amazing property. Someone will have an idea for it.”

The building was built about 1850, when modern Melbourne was just 15 years old.

The building is being marketed as “ready for refurbishment and restoration” and suited to retail and office space.

It’s also across the road from Flagstaff Gardens and close to Flagstaff Station.

The property will be sold via an expressions of interest campaign ending August 5.


The real concern is that the property has significant land value, but as it is Heritage Listed and requiring major structural repairs it will not attract suitable buyers. It would be a great relief to see the City of Melbourne or the State Government purchase the property then re-purpose it as an historical building, a window on Melbourne’s distant past. Time will tell. We hope that it is restored and recognised for what it really is – a simple but elegant Heritage treasure of our city’s past. 

Street view of Melbourne’s oldest home, corner King and Latrobe Street.

Balance Architecture – Specialists in Heritage Architecture.


Heritage – It Matters. Preserve It.  

Heritage Restoration and Refurbishment. Add Value to Your Home with Elegance, Grace and Comfort.

Inner Melbourne used to be considered a 10 kilometre radius from the CBD but more recently this has now expanded to include properties within a 25 kilometre radius. Sadly, the situation sees a competition between ‘Developers’ and those who genuinely appreciate the beauty of Heritage architecture. 

Many of these older homes in median suburbs such as Camberwell, Kew, Malvern, Elsternwick, Brighton, Essendon, Moonee Ponds – the list goes on –  are well and truly under threat.  Larger blocks, older homes built from the turn of the 20th century until the 1930’s are now under threat. Developers see open space (front yards, back yards and gardens) as a premium construction opportunity. The very idea of preservation is counter productive to their interests. 

As a consequence, it’s not unusual to see delightful Edwardian residences, often with slate roofing and terracotta gargoyles left to the elements. A famous example is the property on the corner of Denmark Street and Barkers Road, Kew. A lovely old Edwardian, the slate roof is now holed and the place surrounded by security fencing. 

Think of what the alternative might be.  Restore the building to its original external structure.  The six sided box – walls, floors and ceilings.  Assess the foundations, the chimneys, verandas, windows and doors. Commission a proper Heritage Architectural Report. 

Considering land value is it not just as sensible to restore such a property to a comfortable living condition?  Add extensions and reconfigure the internal spaces, perhaps a pool and walled garden to the rear.

In ten year’s time the property value would be three to four times your initial investment – if you utilised a  qualified Heritage Architect and plan an effective restoration and makeover.

Where a property is not Heritage Listed or part of a Heritage Overlay, neglect is the Developer’s friend “Oh it’s too far gone”.  This is where Councils, local governments, must lift their game. It’s time to allocate decent resources to ensuring Heritage Overlays are kept up to date and provide genuine protection for older, more gracious homes. 

The issue is that very liveable homes in good condition of up to 120 years in age are being demolished. Quite simply Real Estate Agents are pitching to Developers, not residential buyers “suitable for development”.  Why?  Money! It’s an easy sale and in many areas, land for development is currently at a premium – no matter what building may be standing on the property now. 

For a full Heritage Report followed by a complete Heritage Restoration and Design package, call now on 0418 341 443 to speak with Heritage Architect, Andrew Fedorowicz ( Fellow of the Australian Institute of Architects). Andrew offers experience, expertise and a passion for Heritage restoration.  Alternatively, leave your details here for a prompt reply. Consultations are obligation free with no initial fees being charged. 

‘Forres’ at 9-11 Edward Street, Kew, torn down in July 2016

It’s a gracious alternative, one that is slower to realise a profit, but one that offers dignity and an acknowledgement of beauty and craftsmanship of the past and a splendid place for you and your family to live and thrive. 

Balance Architecture – Specialists in Heritage Architecture.


Heritage – It Matters. Preserve It.