What is being done to Save the Mt Buffalo Chalet?

The Mt Buffalo Chalet remains a ‘bone of contention’ for local activists intent on ensuring a viable future for this iconic location, its structures and purpose. The Mt Buffalo Chalet represents a particularly important stage in the early development of Victoria’s high country and its Alpine retreats.

The dispute is largely that the local Mt Buffalo Destination Advisory Group are of the belief that the current works are insufficient and some monies collected under insurance have not been properly applied to restoration of the Chalet’s buildings but rather were allocated by Parks Victoria in maintaining and securing the property in the last few years.

The Victorian Environment Department’s position was made clear this Wednesday when the Parliamentary Secretary for Tourism Danielle Green announced a budget of $200,000 for a new feasibility Study, building off the Mt Buffalo Destination Group’s concepts for the National Park.

“The funding will support the appointment of a professional Consultancy service to evaluate and prepare a business case for Tourism Opportunities” she said.

Balance Architecture firmly believes a truly professional approach will ensure the venue and all of its facilities will enjoy the best chance of rejuvenation and refurbishment with such independent input.

Here are the articles form the Fairfax newspaper ‘The Border Mail’ – reprinted for your interest.

Money meant for old chalet eroded, a ‘breach of obligation’ by Parks Victoria


TIME TO ACT: Supporters of the Mount Buffalo Chalet’s restoration have been shocked by revelations insurance money earmarked for the heritage-listed building was spent on various plans, project management services and nearly $10,000 on wages, food and accommodation costs. Picture: MARK JESSER

In 1934, at the height of Melbourne’s centenary celebrations, a banner promoting Mount Buffalo hung prominently on the famous facade of the city’s Flinders Street Station.

The chalet at Buffalo’s peak, owned by the Victorian Railways, was seen as ‘the epitome of luxury’ and a sanctuary for Europeans displaced by World War II.

More than 100,000 still visit the ‘Grand Old Lady’ each year, and most ask why the chalet has been mothballed for 10 years, since a fire claimed a sister ski lodge on the mountain.
The answer, depends on who you ask.

Sean Hallam, who quit a community group for the chalet in 2015 amid proposals to remove 60 to 70 per cent of the building, believes governments have never intended to re-open it.


Melbourne’s busiest intersection, the corner of Flinders Street and Swanston Street. In amongst the motor vehicles, trucks and trams are horse-drawn carts. Swanston Street crosses Princes Bridge to become St Kilda Road. In the middle distance is the Shrine of Remembrance. The banner on Buffalo reads “There’s magic in the springtime air at Mt Buffalo National Park”. PICTURE: H. H. FISHWICK, Fairfax Photographic

“The chalet is probably Australia’s biggest example of demolition by neglect of a government-owned, heritage-listed building,” he said.

“The chalet really needed a large and proper restoration a decade or more ago and it was never done.

“I’m confident that once the majority of the chalet is demolished, Parks Victoria will never allow further substantial investment.

“What the public doesn’t know is that plans for the chalet were abandoned at one point.”

Mr Hallam learned this, through requesting a copy of an Ernst and Young report the former Liberal government commissioned to canvass chalet redevelopment options.

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning denied access, but the Freedom of Information Commissioner overturned the ruling.

Replying to Mr Hallam, the commissioner stated during a phone call in October 2015, an agency officer said that ‘at one point, the agency abandoned its plans to redevelop the Mount Buffalo Chalet … however, the agency has re-commenced its plan to redevelop’.

It’s not known how long the chalet’s future was off the table, but the public wasn’t told.


Hundreds of North East people have a personal connection to the chalet. Picture: MARK JESSER

The Ernst and Young report proposed four options ranging from $7.8 million to $52.9 million, with the Liberal Napthine government selecting the cheapest, involving the demolition of poor quality and risky structures and restoring the core of the building to become a day visitor centre and cafe.

Heritage Victoria signed off on the works, but they did not come to fruition before the 2014 Victorian election which saw Labor elected.

In 2015, new environment minister Lisa Neville announced tenders to fix the 107-year-old building had come back “more than $3 million over budget”, and both the restoration and demolition was shelved.

Instead a community advisory group was established and the chalet was to be ‘secured’ through $2.8 million in re-stumping, and the replacement and restoration of weatherboards, wall and window frames.

But it wasn’t new funding.

Documents obtained by The Border Mail under freedom of information laws show Parks Victoria received a $7.2 million settlement from the Cresta Lodge fire.


The ski lift at Cresta were the first in Australia, built by Buffalo Chalet engineer Gill Affleck with the assistance of Vic Railways Engineers in the Mount Buffalo Chalet workshop.

Since then, only half of that money has been spent on actual works to the building.

After fire clean-up, planning and essential chalet maintenance totalling $2.6 million, Parks Victoria spent a further $2 million between 2013 and November 2016.

In that time more than $400,000 was absorbed by ‘project management services’ and nearly $10,000 on Parks Victoria food, accommodation and contractor wages.

A $20,000 contribution was made to a coffee van operating on the mountain in 2013, and the same year $2948 was spent on the ‘disposal of confidential documents’.

By November 2016, $2.5 million remained.

Parks Victoria has confirmed the most recent works were paid for out of insurance money.

The use of the settlement for operational costs was labelled by former deputy prime minister Tim Fischer as a “breach of obligation”.

“In the broad principle that insurance money was to be used as much as possible for replace and repair at the chalet,” he said.

Mr Fischer was part of the Mount Buffalo Community Enterprise, a partnership with North East business people including Browns Brothers winery group’s John Brown.

In 2011, the Government rejected a $50 million plan developed by his group to redevelop the chalet as ‘the first major hotel/resort in Australia that can claim to be powered primarily from renewable energy sources’.

“As a bare minimum, we await a popular summer cafe booming in the old chalet building, as soon as possible,” Mr Fischer said.

“Unless real action to re-energise an operational function for the chalet is operating by Melbourne Cup day next year or earlier, we are going uphill.”

The Mount Buffalo Destination Advisory Group put a proposal to the government in February, outlining a cafe as a first priority and other tourism offerings such as a day spa and glamping.

Today, the government will announce $200,000 for a feasibility study to take those plans further.


The chalet in March, 2016, before the current works commenced. Picture: MARK JESSER

Critics of the plans say the focus should be purely on the chalet’s restoration.

Mount Buffalo Destination Advisory Group member David Jacobson believes such an approach will never be successful.

“We have identified eight different funding sources because we understand the government on its own will never fund the chalet,” he said.

“What a lot of people still can’t grasp is for 100 years, before the chalet closed and in the 10 years since, until last year there was never a master plan drawn up for Mount Buffalo and the chalet together.

“They were always treated as separate entities, and everything was always decided from Melbourne.

“To maintain an old building, you have to operate it.”

Member for Ovens Valley Tim McCurdy, a long-time supporter of the chalet, agrees the chalet can’t be a stand-alone venture.

“If you make it a government problem, it will get demolished,” he said.


Former chalet workers inside the building in 2010

“I think Parks Victoria’s long-term plan has been to hope the problem goes away and the Mount Buffalo Chalet will just be demolished because it’s structurally insecure.

“The community group are lobbying for permission to get onto it themselves and get private money in to do it.”

Mr McCurdy conceded, ‘As long as the building’s not falling down in the meantime’.

“When I saw it 12 months ago, it was going downhill quickly, but it was recoverable and that is what the insurance money was meant to be used for, so that the building did stay suitable until a final decision was made by the government of the day.

“There has been an enormous waste of money in different planning mechanisms … if the government was going to ignore it at the end of the day.”

Years of snow and harsh winters have taken their toll on the building.

As early as 2002 a heritage assessment by Allom Lovell and Associates identified investigating and rectifying “the structural failure of the sub floor and dining room floor in the cafe” as urgent works to be undertaken.

A video recorded by Mr Hallam last year shows carpet within the building squelching underfoot.

In an email written to the Parks project manager that month, the Ovens Area Chief Ranger overseeing the chalet said actions were taken to stop water ingress that occurred when windows were removed for restoration.

He went on to add “In terms of priorities for the building I have some areas that are of far greater concern”, and that these areas were not related to the current project.

A Parks Victoria spokeswoman said the chalet was ‘currently 99 per cent water-tight, with two areas that did see some minor water ingress over the last winter’.

“As per last summer, we will be working to rectify this with the use of a protecting membrane in some cases,” she said.

“Parks Victoria is working hard to maintain the Mount Buffalo Chalet to the highest standards possible within the available resources.

“The building has had a lot of work recently, it is looking fantastic, is in great condition and we are continuing with our ongoing program of maintenance activities.”

The spokeswoman re-affirmed that Parks ‘is not planning to undertake demolition of the Mount Buffalo Chalet’.

But it’s a case of ‘too little, too late’, says Mr Hallam, a Balwyn piano teacher whose mind has not left the mountain since he spent a weekend away there.

“If Parks had painted that chalet even once in the 10 years since it’s been closed, it would be in much better condition,” he said.

“(These new plans) will again let Parks and the government off the hook as they will again be seen publicly as looking at new plans for the Chalet while in reality, the majority is going to be lost.

“For some reason, Australian governments do not seem to understand that we have to start saving some of our most precious heritage.

“We shouldn’t have to travel to other countries to stay at amazing heritage buildings like the chalet.

“Given the critical state of the majority of the building, plans being pushed by the Mount Buffalo Destination Advisory Group for the mountain are largely irrelevant until the Chalet is appropriately restored and functioning.”

Grant Cohen, whose family restored the Block Arcade in Melbourne, agrees the government has not done enough for the historic chalet.

“I’m not sure why the Victorian government doesn’t put their hand in their pocket for even $20 million, to clean it up, and get it going again,” he said.


Sean says he will keep fighting for transparency around the chalet’s state and future. Picture: MARK JESSER

“Other countries that have places like this celebrate them to no end – El Tovar on the southern rim of the Grand Canyon is well received.

“Mount Buffalo is one of Australia’s greatest assets of that period … someone has to put their hand up and say ‘enough is enough’ … it has to be bipartisan.

“We were always at the chalet for Australia Day, and then we started to go up in the snow, but it wasn’t about skiing.

“It was about being with family and friends and enjoying the facilities only Mount Buffalo could offer, and still could offer, if someone was given a real tax incentive and a long-term lease to bring that history back.”

Correction: A previous version of this article started that Parks Victoria had denied Sean Hallam access to the Ernst and Young report, rather than the Department of Environment, Land Water and Planning

source: bordermail.com.au

‘Investors sitting on sidelines’ but Buffalo feasibility study to come first


NEXT STEP: Alpine Mayor Ron Janas thanks Victorian Parliamentary Secretary for Tourism Danielle Green for her support. Picture: JAMES WILTSHIRE

There are investors ‘sitting on the sideline’ ready to put money into Mount Buffalo but what could go to the heritage-listed chalet will be subject to a feasibility study.

Parliamentary Secretary for Tourism Danielle Green has announced $200,000 for a feasibility study to build off the Mount Buffalo Destination Advisory Group’s concepts for the national park.

“The funding will support the appointment of a professional consultancy service to evaluate and prepare a business case for tourism opportunities,” she said.

“The scope will be determining potential demand and target markets, reviewing infrastructure and road capacity and preparing a marketing prospectus for feasible options.

“The community shouldn’t think it’s more money being thrown at something that there’s not an intention to do something with.”


Ron Janas, Danielle Green, Mount Buffalo Destination Advisory Group member David Jacobson, and (back) Alpine chief executive Charlie Bird, and MBDAG members Amber Gardner and Janelle Boynton

Ms Green said it wouldn’t be limited just to feasibility of tourism developments, as opposed to potential funding options, ‘if the project facilitator is able to bring to the table investors’.

Alpine Council Mayor Ron Janas said ‘private investors, insurance companies, superannuation companies, government’, were interested in the project.

“We have to have public-private partnerships because that’s how things survive and endure,” he said.

“Early next year the tendering process will start to get an advisor to this work and then we will look at timeframes after that.

“I would think once the process starts, a 12 or 18 month timeframe would be reasonable, particularly if we can get a lot information that’s already out there.”

The consultants will be given access to past reports done on the chalet and Buffalo.

The Mount Buffalo Destination Advisory Group has repeatedly asked Parks Victoria for access to an Ernst and Young report from 2013, documents obtained by The Border Mail show.

It revealed a ‘strong level of interest in the proposition of operating a hotel at the Mount Buffalo Chalet site’ from hotel and tourism operators’ but a ‘lack of interest from high-end accomodation providers’.

A $52.9 million option canvassed in the report proposed eco-retreats at the chalet, a ‘day spa experience’ and an ‘adventure hub for the mountain’, but feedback from commercial and consumer testing indicated ‘limited demand/interest’ for that option.


Supporters of the MBDAG and community members gathered for the announcement

Mr Janas said the Ernst and Young report was not a public document and the advisory group would ‘work with government to glean what information’ could be reviewed.

“It’s not like we have to start from scratch and there’s commitment that some of those reports will be made available to the consultant and that will be case-by-case,” he said.

“I’ve seen comment around people saying we’re spending all this money to do what’s already been done, but this is a different approach.

“The government is committed to this project.”

Ms Green referred questions about how $7.2 million of insurance money received by Parks Victoria was spent to Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio.


The Border Mail has revealed spending of insurance money received by Parks Victoria, prompting anger from supporters of the chalet’s full restoration

Ms D’Ambrosio did not answer whether the government would investigate the spending but said the government would ‘continue to work with the community to identify future improvements’ to the chalet.

“The government has already delivered vital repairs to ensure the building is water-tight and safe,” she said.

source: bordermail.com.au

Tell the premier to act, says National Trust


The National Trust thinks further needs to be done to restore the Mount Buffalo Chalet and make it viable. Picture: MARK JESSER

The National Trust wants further restoration done to the Mount Buffalo Chalet and has issued a call-to-arms to supporters to ensure their voices are heard.

The trust’s advocacy team inspected the $2.8 million works being undertaken in February and regarded the building to be watertight.

They were pleased to see the works addressed significant structural issues but noted they were limited to a small part of the chalet, and are advocating for a viable use for the building to be found.

Chief executive Simon Ambrose said residents should “write to Premier Daniel Andrews to express their deep concerns about the future of the chalet”.

“Call for funding to be provided to enable Parks Victoria to fulfill their obligation to look after this place on behalf of the people of Victoria,” he said.

The Border Mail revealed this week of $7.2 million available to the chalet in an insurance pay-out, only half was spent on actual works to the building, with some money spent on food and accomodation for Parks staff and contractors.

Documents show plans to redevelop the chalet had been dropped at one point in time.

Northern MLC Jaclyn Symes said there were questions to answer but an audit into the insurance money would not be likely.

“I’ve got some sympathy for ‘let’s just get on with it’, because it’s been stalled for so long,” she said.

“Let’s just get this planning done and let’s get started.”

A feasibility study into tourism offerings on Mount Buffalo, as proposed by an advisory group appointed in 2015, will be conducted with $200,000 announced on Wednesday.

Ian Browne, a descendant of the Mansfield family linked to the chalet, believes the building and surrounding land should be put on a separate title.

“The only thing that will save the chalet is if it becomes commercial and viable in its own right,” he said.

“One of the gatekeepers here is Parks Victoria and they need to let go.

“You wouldn’t get much change out of $100 million bringing it up to a standard required of modern day – to encourage someone to spend the sort of money, you would have to give a 70 or 90 years lease.”

source: bordermail.com.au

There is no doubt the Chalet is both a potential profitable Tourist destination as well as a Heritage Icon.

Let’s hope common sense prevails and what could easily be an unproductive political stoush, becomes a strong program to rejuvenate and reinvigorate a fully restored Mt Buffalo Chalet – a real asset and treasure for generations to come.

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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 Maribyrnong – Melbourne’s best kept secret. Green or Greed?


Saltwater River was the name given to the City of Melbourne’s ‘western’ river until 1913. It was an industrial nightmare. And it was the place to store explosives. From 1876 ‘Jacks Magazine’ – not far from present day Highpoint West Shopping Centre – stored a massive quantity of Gunpowder and Dynamite. These were the base materials driving the Gold Rush and were stored in solid Bluestone Vaults. These vaults were strategically placed in a natural amphitheatre below an escarpment. As time went by the vaults were then used to store highly explosive munitions from the factory on the hilltop and then the new complex situated further up the river.

Screen Shot 2017-12-08 at 10.26.02 am

With the new Edgewater development adjacent, with its myriad townhouses and apartments these unique buildings constructed from bluestone quarried on the site have been unoccupied and remained somewhat inaccessible. What’s more very few people these days even know of their existence.

Now, the government-appointed heritage body (Working Heritage) wants to find a use for the six-hectare site.


It consists of two gunpowder storage buildings surrounded by huge earth mound blast walls, tunnels, small tram lines once used to move explosives, a large ammunitions storage hall, a disused loading dock and even a canal – it’s blocked from the Maribyrnong but could be reconnected.

The catch is the land can’t be used for housing, and it has the highest level of state listing – meaning it is protected and can’t be altered without the Victorian Heritage Council’s approval.

“There’s a growing population in the area and Jack’s could be a really significant local amenity, completely different to the Highpoint shopping experience,” says the acting executive officer of Working Heritage, Ross Turnbull.


Working Heritage – until this week known as The Mint Inc, as a result of its role as the public manager of the leased Royal Mint in Williams Street – has commissioned planners Tract Consultants to oversee a process to consider what might happen with the old buildings.

The state-backed manager of treasured publicly-owned heritage buildings is responsible for properties across Victoria ranging from the old Mint to courthouses in country towns. The places the body manages are no longer needed for their original purpose, and Working Heritage tries to devise ways of adapting the buildings to suit contemporary needs.

It isn’t easy to think of what Jack’s Magazine – named after its former foreman and keeper Wally Jack, who served at the site from WW1 to 1943 – could be rebirthed as today.

“We want to see the place open – we want to see it become a place that’s known and treasured,” says Mr Turnbull. “It’s definitely not going to be a gunpowder store and it definitely won’t be housing, but other than that were not putting any limit to what it could be.”

Source: theage.com.au


Earlier this month the 12 hectare was advertised by the Commercial Real Estate Company Fitzroy’s. Fitzroy’s are seeking registrations of interest for the compound. It consists of 13 buildings on the site. As explained, the State Government organisation ‘Working Heritage’ currently manages the site. Up until 1993 it was a Department of Defence facility. After decommissioning it was returned to the State Government.


Most of the buildings were constructed between 1875 and 1878, and used for gunpowder magazine and ammunitions storage.

Among them is a loading dock shed, cordite store and examining room – all positioned amongst tramways, tunnels and earth blast mounds throughout the parkland.

The search is on for operators in retail, education, tourism, hospitality, creative industries and accommodation to bring life to the unique space – with lease terms of up to 65 years available for successful applicants.


Fitzroys is offering weekly tours of the site for potential vendors, and Working Heritage will look at all of the interested parties proposals to work out a cohesive game plan. Registrations of interest close December 15.

Fitzroys director Rick Berry said the site was one of the most unusual property he had handled – but it’s getting attention from the hospitality industry.

“We’ve had interest from restaurants, for wine storage, even a distillery and as a function centre. Everybody is looking for something that’s a little different.”


Rather than asking for a complicated proposal, the registration is a one page document (with supporting material), so people can put up their ideas without going to a lot of cost or effort.

“We want to cast the net as wide as possible, so people feel welcome to put something up.” Mr Berry said. “I’m hoping we get an outcome, because I think it will be a really interesting place to visit when the whole project is up and running.”

Working Heritage executive officer Ross Turnbull said the organisation, appointed managers of the property in 2015, was trying not to preempt the registration process.


“Our expertise is in heritage conservation, and we’re trying to stick to our knitting and look to the market to tell us what people think might work there,” he said.

Mr Turnbull said they were open to new buildings being constructed to complement the existing structures – and have approached heritage consultant and architectural experts Lovell Chen for assistance.

“We think there are opportunities to enhance and complement the existing fabric through the right architectural intervention,” he said.

Working Heritage has given local artists and makers short-term, low-rent licences in some of the buildings.

“Our thinking there was that if we can get people in there and doing things, they can give us feedback on issues or problems and benefits of working in that place,” he said.

Imagination will be the best tool for the successful candidates but Mr Berry and Mr Turnbull said the site was geared towards hospitality ventures.

“We want businesses or organisations that will generate visitation to the site,” he said. “The ultimate goal is to have the magazine and its buildings used and active seven days a week.”

Source: domain.com.au

This area of Melbourne has long been utilised for the storage and production of Munitions. In 1873 on the West Bank of the Maribyrnong River (or Saltwater River as it was then known) stood a Naval Battery. The site was used to test fire torpedos in the 1870s. It lay opposite a Government Ship Building Site on the other side of the river. It stood between ‘Henderson’s Piggery’ and the Ship Inn.

In 1888 the Colonial Ammunition Factory opened in Gordon St Footscray. The site sits above the river and looks east to the Melbourne CBD. It was access to the river from Jack’s Canal mentioned earlier that made this site desirable.

The factory provided the bulk of Australia’s arsenal in World War 1. More than two million rounds of .303 rifle ammunition was made annually during the war period.

A bigger facility was added in 1908. It was Australia’s largest at the time. Privately owned until 1927 it was transferred to the Department of Defence in 1927. During World War 2, the factories employed 20,000 men and women. There was a great fear that the Japanese would attack the facility and Melbourne’s Western Suburbs.

The factories were huge and spaced well apart to prevent chain reaction explosions. Most have since been demolished to make way for housing developments. Only one remains.

The State Government had through its Development Victoria arm earmarked a 3300 dwelling development plan for the site.

However, the current Federal Government announced in this year’s budget a plan to develop a 6000 dwelling development. It intends to sell the site to the highest bidder.


The site is heavily polluted with asbestos and other chemicals. The clean-up, it is estimated, will cost up to $300 million, with $580 million budgeted.

Currently the favoured bidder is – wait for it – a Chinese Property Developer – Zhongren. This group plan on building between 4000 and 6000 homes on the site. Their plan includes two new bridges, apartment blocks and office blocks. It would ‘incorporate Heritage Buildings, a military museum and a public beach and swimming pool’ – and a new canal through the land to provide more ‘Maribyrnong River frontage.’

Suffice to say the Heritage report produced by Heritage Consultants, Godden Mackay Logan is 147 pages long – not including appendices. We would suggest there may well be further due diligence required by Zhongren if it is to meet the State Government requirements.


The Maribyrnong has been locked up for over a century. With the Edgewater Project having been developed on the old Humes Pipes site and the old Footscray Abattoirs site and Flemington Saleyards also developed as intensive housing, the question is what of the green corridor this land represents. Is it to disappear without trace in a sea of townhouses, apartments and office blocks?

There is the possibility of a relaxed and meandering green ribbon winding through the western suburbs from Footscray Rd through to Avondale Heights. Flemington Racetrack and Footscray Park meet Edgewater and flow through along the Essendon Boulevard. It is the development planned beyond the housing across the river in current Maribyrnong that raises real questions.


Is there a linked plan? It seems there are strong conflicting interests at play here. With clever planning, intelligent architecture and an eye for open space, this former industrial no-go area could become a delightful and hidden gem of Melbourne living. A continuous river boulevard with great recreational attributes for all.

But not without planning, co-operation, vision and foresight. Who is going to pick up the pace and demonstrate some common sense? This is a golden opportunity. Let’s not waste it. It’s time for the proposed development plans right along the river to be synchronised with an eye to the future and deference to the past. Surely it’s realistic to at least present the vision to the public as was done by Development Victoria and the Victorian Government over 10 years ago.

At this stage, we think we can probably sit on that ‘virtual’ (at this stage) Beach and simply wait for a documented Masterplan – sometime soon please.

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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 Bloomberg Building London and the Mithraeum Temple

There is a fresh new approach to history, to heritage and to the simple irreplaceable priceless relics and architecture of the past. This weeks story is about an amazing discovery in London of a Roman Temple, dedicated to Mithras, the Celestial Bull Slayer. Originally it was uncovered during bomb site and bomb crater restoration works in 1954. Over 30,000 people lined up to view the site during its recovery. It had been buried under 7 metres of earth over time. Known as the Mithraeum, it was inexpertly reconstructed 100m away using new stones to fill gaps. This was 8 years later, after it had been ‘stored’ in a builders wrecking yard.


All the Artefacts were claimed by the Museum of London, whilst priceless items such as the original timber benches were simply thrown away. The original temple was a dark place – literally with no windows and lit by flaring oil soaked torches.

The Temple of Mithras

Mithras was a virile young God. For many today practicing ‘Christianity’ it may be surprising to know that December 25th was the most important day of the calendar of Mithras. In Constantinople when Roman Emperor Constantine transitioned Rome towards being a Christian empire, one of the concessions was to incorporate Mithran feast days into the Christian Calendar.


The Temple was built next to a river. One tenth of all Roman objects on display in the Museum of London come from various excavations on this patch of land.

The Reconstruction

To the present – the site was selected as the European Headquarters for the Tech and Media giant corporation – Bloombergs. Its founder Michael Bloomberg considered that his company was now the stewards of the ancient building and its artefacts.

“London has a long tradition as a crossroads for culture and business and we are building on that tradition” he said.

Although the location has seen the original site suffer destruction from the building works previously carried out there (through deep basements), there was still a substantial archeological layer that survived. Objects such as the oldest hand written wooden tablets – the oldest handwritten documents ever found in Britain were preserved. In them was found the first recorded usage of the word ‘Londinium’. When Bloomberg purchased the site in 2009 it announced its plans to rebuild the Temple of Mithras within its new European Headquarters.

bloomburg building

And now it has certainly delivered. Inside its ‘glassy, waffle shaped’ building is a full reconstruction of the original temple, a part of the three storey London Mithraeum Space, now open to the public.

The first floor houses impressive artefacts discovered during the first and subsequent archeological digs on the site – displayed behind glass. Here you’ll find the pre-mentioned wooden tablets – one from AD57 – all handwritten documents, some of the oldest in Britain as well as worn leather shoes, broken pots and other pieces.

wooden tablet

But below ground is a spectacular concept, a re-imagining of the original temple. It was built using mud-castes and archival material. This was a place that was essentially a Mens Club, where drinking, misbehaving and debauchery (so it is said) occurred in celebration of the young Bull Slayer Mithras. As has been noted, London’s financial district has not changed so very much for a millennium!


The Temple features audio for visitors giving people the atmosphere and that sense of being in a living space. Latin chants with light effecting the vision of walking through the dusty ruins of antiquity. It is the essence of the Roman ‘Londinium’.

Architecturally what is extraordinary is the effort to which Bloomberg has gone to to incorporate this incredible feature into its essentially very modern building.


It is a perfect example of providing a sympathetic and accurate hand in preserving history, heritage and culture – even when that culture has long passed. It is no less relevant to our most recent histories here in Australia. Preserve our buildings, our architecture and our culture. And in 2000 years time what will archeologists find here in Melbourne? A fast food outlet? A carpark? or a series of extraordinary buildings preserved with care and precision, and a cultural heritage that has been respected and protected.

Ahh Development – It can be done well you know… It can be done better

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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.

Moonee Valley Racing Club releases $2 Billion Redevelopment Plan


Balance Architecture and its principal Architect Andrew Fedorowicz note with interest the release of the proposed redevelopment of the Moonee Valley Racing Club track over the next 15 years at an estimated cost of $2 Billion. The only building not slated for demolition on the current site is the Moonee Valley Legends Gaming Room and Bistro situated on the corner of Wilson St and Thomas St. This building was designed by none other than… Andrew Fedorowicz!


It gives a panoramic and sweeping view of the track. With the new finish line, the view from the dining room and its verandah will be right down the finishing straight.

Please view our previous blog on Moonee Valley Racetrack

From our perspective there are still a number of heritage issues that will need to be addressed.


The Horse Stalls and ‘Birdcage’ with its century old Peppercorn trees, Manikato’s grave, and a number of other heritage items will need to be addressed, their future spelt out and if part of a heritage overlay, the protection to be offered and how these elements will remain in synchronisation with the Race Club and its track.

Here we reprint the press announcement:

$2 Billion Moonee Valley development plans unveiled

AMBITIOUS plans to transform Moonee Valley into a world-leading racing facility flanked by residential and business precincts have been revealed.

Dubbed “The Vision for the Valley”, the $2 billion redevelopment project could start as early as next year, and it ​could take 15 years to complete.

Racing at the venue would be suspended during construction but Moonee Valley Racing Club hopes the iconic Cox Plate meeting, recently won by wonder mare Winx for a third successive time, would be unaffected.


“There are two options we are currently exploring,” MVRC chief executive Michael Browell said.

“Ideally, we don’t lose a Cox Plate meeting at Moonee Valley and that will be dependent on the construction of the new grandstand and new track.

“Alternatively, if Moonee Valley is unavailable for the Cox Plate meeting, we would look to work with Racing Victoria and the other clubs to transfer it to either Flemington or Caulfield.”

Current plans are for the bold ​grandstand ​redevelopment to start after the 2020 Cox Plate, the centenary of the world’s equal-highest rated turf race.

The key points of the master plan are:

MVRC Masterplan and Development Guidelines_Rev M for Issue.indd

CONSTRUCTION of a futuristic grandstand along the site’s northern boundary, with views to city skyline.

THE release of 9ha on the site of the present grandstand to joint venture partners Hostplus and Hamton for residential development.

FUNDS generated from the land sale would fund track reconfiguration and grandstand construction.

BUILDING OF a new track surface, grandstand and infield likely to start after the 2020 Cox Plate.

NEW track to be 1702m in circumference, with the home straight extended from 173m to 317m.

RELOCATION of the stabling area to the infield, part of which would be transformed into sporting and entertainment areas.

MARKETING for the first residential precinct to start next year.

The plan has the support of Victorian Minister for Racing Martin Pakula.

“I congratulate the MVRC on its vision and I’m confident that it will ensure an exciting future for racing at the Valley,” he said.

Racing Victoria chief executive Giles Thompson said: “This is an exciting development for the Moonee Valley Racing Club and the wider Victorian racing industry and the Racing Victoria board is very supportive of the club’s plans.

“We look forward to working with the club to help ensure their vision for the project is realised.”

MVRC Masterplan and Development Guidelines_Rev M for Issue.indd

The plan has the support of Victorian Minister for Racing Martin Pakula. Picture: Hamish BlairMVRC chairman Don Casboult.

MVRC chairman Don Casboult said The Valley’s redevelopment was a “history-making moment.”

“It will deliver a huge range of benefits for the entire community over the next century,” he said.

“The scale and ambition of this project is unparalleled. `The Valley of Tomorrow’ will respect our great heritage while creating a wonderful new environment for all to enjoy.”

Under the plans, construction of the first townhouse would start in 2018-19.
About 2000 residential dwellings will be built, comprising townhouses and apartment buildings.

The balance of the mixed-use project will consist of retail and entertainment facilities, commercial office space and community and wellbeing spaces.
The racetrack infield will be used for outdoor events run by the club and also sport and recreation.

Discussions will continue with local council and the state government to determine the final mix of uses.

Source: heraldsun.com.au

Here is the same announcement from the Developers perspective

Moonee Valley Racing Club Launch $2bn Vision for Urban Precinct

The Moonee Valley Racing Club has revealed plans for a massive $2 billion urban lifestyle precinct, adding retail and residential elements and transforming the track into one of the “world’s greatest nighttime racing venues”.

The racing club has appointed superannuation fund Hostplus and property developer Hamton to redevelop the racecourse into an integrated precinct.


Around nine hectares of the 40-hectare site owned by Moonee Valley Racing Club will be available for development by the Hostplus-Hamton venture. The proposed masterplan will be refined over the next 12 months and will likely include opportunities for mixed-use and medium- to high-density residential development with building heights of up to 25-storeys allowed within central parts of the site.

The racetrack will be realigned, widened and the home straight extended from the current 173 metres to 317 metres. Payments by the Hostplus-Hamton venture to the club will facilitate the construction of the club’s new grandstand and racetrack.

The site has already been rezoned to a combination of activity centre zoning and mixed-use zoning.

“The redevelopment will see MVRC cement its position as one of the world’s premier racing clubs and will reinvigorate the Valley as an iconic Melbourne destination of the 21st century,” Hostplus chief executive David Elia said.

“This investment will also complement our diversified portfolio and deliver strong risk-adjusted returns to members over the long-term.”

The site is six kilometres from Melbourne’s CBD and a short walk from Moonee Ponds rail station.

MVRC Masterplan and Development Guidelines_Rev M for Issue.indd

Hamton chairman Paul Hameister said the redevelopment of the entire site will be considered as an integrated precinct that provides “a great place to live, work and visit, with new public parks and facilities, food and beverage, complementary retail, innovative work-spaces and world class residential homes.”

“Part of the masterplan refinement over the coming months will include engagement with key stakeholders, including the community, to learn more about local priorities for Moonee Valley,” Hameister said.

A new network of public spaces will also be created within the racecourse precinct to provide a diversity of open space for the local community to enjoy.

The permit for the first stage is expected to be lodged early in 2018, and construction for the entire masterplanned development is expected occur in stages over the next 20 years.

Source: theurbandeveloper.com

From our perspective this may well be an interesting development. Moonee Valley is to some extent the track that grew ‘like topsy’. The Grandstands are somewhat dated as are the catering facilities and admin offices. The one thing that probably is quite unique apart from the aforementioned Horse Stalls and Birdcage area is the old Totaliser building located at the back of the Grandstands. Totaliser buildings were extraordinary in that the boards displayed required quite intricate mechanisation and rather high extensions for the displays. The ‘Totes’ were probably one of the first public displays of timely mathematical computations, where the Tote bets received altered the odds displayed in real time. Quite revolutionary for the times.

So what do our readers and followers think of this very large proposed development? Will it enhance the Moonee Valley precinct or debilitate it? You be the judge. Til next week

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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.

Geelong Gaol – 19th century Old Geelong Gaol up for sale

It would seem that old Gaols make a great development prospect. Built in 1864, the Geelong Gaol is heritage listed. It has been offered for sale as of last weekend.

Geelong agents Colliers International have listed the property. There is a two stage Expression of Interest campaign being run by the group on behalf of the City of Greater Geelong


Colliers, Geelong agent Andrew Lewis said at least six local parties, including three of five property developers that were keen to buy the site prior to the campaign, had already flagged their intention to bid for the property.


The iconic 19th century gaol was once home to Mark ‘Chopper’ Read, after he was transferred there when another inmate in Pentridge Prison cut Chopper’s ears off in 1984. Squizzy Taylor has also served time inside the prison.

Mr Lewis had previously told the Advertiser he knew of at least four local parties — all developers or hospitality operators, that would be keen to buy it.

He said the council is involved in the two-stage sale process in vetting proposals against a set of heritage guidelines to seek an outcome beneficial to the community.

Buyers with proposals the council considered satisfactory would be short-listed before price would come into the equation, he said.

“As long as we get to a point where we’ve got a couple of proposals that we’re happy with and their intentions are clear and they understand they’ll look after the building going forward by way of a schedule of maintenance, then it will come down to the bidding,” Mr Lewis said.


A heritage guideline report would provide a framework for buyers, but parties could negotiate with the council to seek an outcome, he said.

“Obviously, complete demolition is never going to be an option. And substantial variation of the cell block isn’t really an option either,” Mr Lewis said.

“But the block has additional buildings added over the years and we can look at those being removed, demolished or altered.

“There’s a lot of land there and a lot of land that isn’t being used by the cell block that could be used.”


The site measures 9423sq m, with a potential development area of 3993sq m with a Residential Growth zoning.

It’s a similar sale process used by St Mary’s Parish when it sold the heritage-listed St Mary’s Hall and former school site in 2009 by vetting tenders on the net community benefit before accepting a bid from Common Equity Housing Ltd, which planned to build up to 150 apartments in two parcels around the heritage-listed school building and hall.
“We don’t want to be touching the heritage buildings, but you’ve got additional land to work on,” Mr Lewis said.


Mr Lewis wouldn’t reveal a price guide for the site.

“The council hasn’t asked us to value the asset. They’ve got valuations of their own,” Mr Lewis said.

“They’ve said their goal is not to maximise the sale value but rather to maximise the outcome for the community going forward.”

But he added that selling the gaol would also eliminate a significant liability on the council’s finances.

The council has previously estimated the maintenance backlog for the gaol was at least $1.56 million.

Source: news.com.au

When considering what has occurred at the former Pentridge Prison site in Coburg it is somewhat disturbing to contemplate what may occur in Geelong. We note that no such fate occurred at the Old Melbourne Gaol, the Melbourne Magistrates Court or the former Melbourne Lock-Up in Russell St. The Old Melbourne Gaol was constructed commencing in 1839 and completed by 1842 – 22 years earlier that the Geelong Gaol.

However the original Geelong Gaol is recorded as being built in 1864, it took a long time to construct with work commencing in 1849 – 7 years after Old Melbourne Gaol was completed.

The Gaol was built by Prisoners who slept on prison barges in Corio Bay during the construction period.


It is an integral part of Victoria’s history and its rather stark architecture speaks of darker times and bleak lives for the unfortunate souls condemned to live out their days there.

The extraordinary fact is that such a cruel institution with such basic facilities was still operational only 26 years ago in 1991. It was never served with plumbing to the cells and all prisoners still used a bucket – in 1991! No heating, no air conditioning. Hell in Summer or Winter.

A brutal place, but a significant heritage precinct. It will be interesting to see what the Developers come up with and what ultimately the Greater City of Geelong is prepared to accept. Will it be that the well heeled denizens of Geelong will get to sleep in luxury apartments where others just withered away and died over the years? Time will tell.

Historic Photos from Geelong Gaol

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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.

Como House – The National Trust’s Jewel in the Crown

Standing proudly on a hill overlooking the Yarra River to the North, South Yarra to the West and South and Toorak to the East stands stately Como House.


Como House, constructed 1847

Como House, situated in the City of Stonnington was constructed in 1847, owned by Sir Edwards Eyre Williams. Sir Edward was a Lawyer, Barrister and ultimately a Supreme Court Judge in the early colony, which at that stage was barely 2 years old. In 1852 it was sold to Frederick Dalgety, a well known investor. He in turn sold it to a Mr John Brown in 1853. Brown was a master builder. He accomplished a great transformation of the property, adding a second storey and creating the spectacular gardens and grounds under the direction of the renowned Landscape Designer and gardener Mr William Sangster. By 1861, Brown was broke, bankrupt and the mortgage foreclosed. Mr Charles Armytage purchased the property in 1864 for £14,000 (pounds). The Armytage family held possession until 1959 – 95 years in total – when it passed to the care of the then recently formed National Trust.

Described by the National Trust as ‘an intriguing mix of Australian Regency and classic Italianate Architecture, the property is one of the area’s, if not Melbourne’s, last surviving relics of the Gold Rush era. The former owners the Armytages were considered the pinnacle of high society for over a century and the property gives an excellent view and insight into their lives of privilege and comfort.

The current dining rooms and receptions still hold the furnishings provided by the Armitage family. With its Historic Ballroom, its fountains and its gardens it remains a popular venue for weddings and events – only 5km from the Melbourne CBD.

The Kitchen wing on the Western side dates back to the 1840s. The Ballroom wing on the East side was constructed in the 1870s, supervised by Architect Arthur Johnson, when extensions were added. Internal woodwork is cedar whilst the floors are teak. Very few changes have occurred since the 1870s so the building is a microcosm of life for the wealthy few of the 19th Century. Not surprisingly, the Armytage family were successful pastoralists. For many years the house was the centre of social activity for Melbourne’s elite. The ballroom floor was one of the first sprung timber floors in the colony, with chains being used as springs to ensure a smooth and pliable dance floor.

Servant’s quarters were set away from the main house.

The house itself is surrounded by verandahs with cast iron balustrading and a parapeted tower at the rear. The ground floor verandah with timber arcading and cast-iron pickets is unusual yet the finished image is that of a most atypical verandah.


Architect Arthur Johnson was a most talented architect, also working on the Melbourne General Post Office, Melbourne Church of England Grammar School and the Melbourne Law Courts. He was Charles Armytage’s brother in law. Charles Armytage married Caroline, and they raised their ten children at Como. Charles died in 1909. Daughters Constance, Leila and Laura lived on at Como with Constance and Leila facilitating the sale to the National Trust in 1959. It was the first house purchased by the National Trust and the sisters ensured that the Trust maintained the original integrity of their family seat. All furniture and the complete contents were sold to the Trust including an extensive archive of diaries, letters, journals and photographs. It is this social context and history that brings Como to life.

Caroline Armytage was a pioneering woman who taught her own children along with those of Fulham Station’s (their original property near Geelong) workers and the indigenous children as well. She needed to be independent and an effective manager. In her Forty Forth year, Charles died, aged 52 of Pancreatic cancer leaving her to manage the family’s large portfolio of properties and investments. She also had nine children aged from 9 upwards to raise having lost her youngest to Diptheria in 1872.

This was a grand estate covering 54 acres (21.9 hectares) with a large staff of servants. The property was greatly reduced after Caroline’s death and the settlement of her will.

The estate was subdivided into 64 allotments. The remaining house and garden was purchased by Mr John Buchan on behalf of the three Armytage sisters Ada, Laura and Leila. [The auction took place on the 25th of February 1911]

In 1921, the Armytage family sold 35 acres of Como’s river frontage. Only 5 acres remained of the house and garden. But it is Melbourne’s extremely good fortune that this wonderful property survived the excesses of modernity and was saved by the National Trust.


This time we will let pictures describe the beauty of the building, its grounds, gardens and history.

What is happening now in Victoria is not dissimilar to the vandalism and wanton destruction of the 1950s when the National Trust first came into existence to protect our precious heritage, identifying heritage homes and ensuring their preservation through either purchase or classification..

Its time again now to further refine and strengthen our protections on the architectural heritage and rich history of Melbourne and Greater Victoria. We must guard carefully the remaining treasures.

Balance Architecture fully supports the National Trust and the Heritage Council of Victoria in their endeavours to protect our precious buildings and history.

You can visit Como House from Friday to Sunday between 10am and 3pm or book a tour. [The house is closed this weekend 11/12 November]. Go to the National Trust site and click on Como House for further detail.

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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 Listing, an interesting case

At Balance Architecture and Interior Design we like to offer ‘balanced’ viewpoints. In the heart of the Melbourne CBD lies a fairly significant dilemma – the Heritage listed carpark at 180 Russell St.

Total Carpark from Russell Street, with Total house office above

The site is now listed on the Victorian State Heritage Register. This sounds impressive, but in reality there are over 1971 Heritage sites listed in Melbourne’s CBD ranging from buildings to features such as stained glass through to well – carparks. Notably at this point the Russell St Theatre located at 19-25 Russell St does not appear to have achieved Heritage Listing.


There were differing views prior to the listing of the Total Carpark for Heritage Listing. Here is a reprint of the Age article of August 9th, 2014. The author provides a rather entertaining insight into the listing of the site and those who would choose it was otherwise.

‘Ugly’ car park in heritage legal fight

The owners of a 1960s Chinatown car park have challenged its controversial heritage listing, arguing such protection is ‘‘irrational’’ while fighting to build a hotel tower on the site.

The Total House car park on Russell Street, once labelled ‘‘ugly’’ by Planning Minister Matthew Guy, secured a place on the heritage register in April due to its cultural significance.

The building, completed in 1965, is made up of seven concrete decks of above-ground parking, a nightclub, and a small box-shaped office. It’s considered to be an early example of Brutalist architecture in Victoria and a key site from the post-war car ownership boom.

But the site’s new owner, AXF Group, is fighting the heritage listing and wants to demolish the car park to build a glittering skyscraper.

In legal documents filed in the Victorian Supreme Court, the developer’s lawyers argue the heritage listing process was flawed on over a dozen grounds.

The Heritage Council of Victoria should have taken economic issues into account, thus making the listing ‘‘irrational, illogical or not based on findings or inferences of fact supported by logical grounds,’’ according to the court documents.

The developer’s lawyer, Stuart Morris, QC, told court on Friday that while development plans had stalled, wind tunnelling tests were still continuing.

The National Trust’s Paul Roser said the emerging legal battle could be a key moment in heritage protection. ‘‘The fight is clearly on to preserve our significant post-war modernist legacy,’’ he said.

The site was snapped up by AXF in 2012, reportedly for $40 million, and has been listed as ‘‘Sovereign Plaza’’ in legal filings. Early plans for the site show a 70-storey hotel and apartment tower decorated in gold and silver, but only if the car park can be torn down.
With its distinctive design, the Heritage Council found the existing car park was a ‘‘landmark’’ while the nightclub, most recently known as Billboard, was ‘‘the most extravagant nightclub experience in the city’’ when it opened nearly 40 years ago.
Melbourne Heritage Action Group originally nominated Total House for the heritage register. Spokesman Tristan Davies said the developer’s economic arguments were already tested during the heritage listing process.

“It doesn’t have to remain as a car park. There could be a few adapted reuses for it,” he said.

CBRE property director Mark Wizel said the case wouldn’t deter other Chinese investors from buying up 1960s-era buildings out of fear of facing a similar heritage battle. That’s because property owners still have an avenue of appeal, he said.

‘‘This shows the transparency of our planning system and our legal system,” he said.

A hearing for a court challenge is not expected until early next year.

Source: theage.com.au

Note the lawyer specialising in ‘Development’ and Heritage cases is a Mr Stuart Morris QC. Familiar? Mr Morris is currently representing the Corkman ‘Demolisher’ Developers.

But let’s look at the other side of the coin. Dr Alan Davies – the Urbanist frequently writes blogs for Crikey amongst others. He is a principal of the Melbourne based economic and planning consultancy Pollard Davies Consulting.

Here is his article in Crikey at the time, the second he had written on the subject.

Architectural merit: has this building got enough to save it?

There’re moves to preserve this 1960s “brutalist” building, but it’s architectural distinction is questionable. It’s unoriginal, uninspired and captures little of the vision of the movement.


Total Car Park, Russell Street, Melbourne

Last week I discussed moves to place a 1965 modernist building in Melbourne – the Total Car Park – on the Victorian State Heritage Register.

The point I sought to make is protecting buildings imposes costs on the wider community. We therefore want to be very sure the buildings we protect from redevelopment are really worth the cost.

I’ve subsequently had a closer look at the claims of architectural and historical distinction made for this building.

Its defenders worry its design virtues will be overlooked because it’s primarily a car park. I don’t think that matters – my conclusion is its intrinsic architectural merit is not only insufficient to justify formal preservation, it isn’t especially compelling on any level.

Commenters at Melbourne Heritage Action, the group leading the charge to register the building, think it’s worthy of preservation because it resembles, variously, a “1980s Apple Mac”, “something out of The Thunderbirds” and an “old-fashioned TV set”.

I acknowledge it’s interesting to a newer generation, but I don’t think the fact it evokes (unintended) similes in the minds of some observers is adequate grounds for preservation.

The fact that none of these references would’ve made sense when the building was constructed reinforces that doubt. By definition, they’re not historical claims at all.

Indeed, I think the architect would’ve been horrified at the time by references of this type. He had pretensions to something much grander and more formal i.e. Japanese brutalism.

According to the write-up of the building in Melbourne City Council’s i-Heritage database (which only gives it a ‘B’ rating, incidentally):

Pre-cast or off-form concrete finishes successfully complete the prevailing Japanese Brutalist image, particularly that of the much lauded Kenzo Tange (see balustrade detail of the Kagawa Town Hall). More than any other multi storey commercial building in Melbourne, this design achieves the closest empathy with Tange’s work as well as a powerfully expressed, yet functional set of forms……

The ‘Statement of Significance’ says:

Melbourne’s most significant Japanese Brutalist design, achieving empathy with the style without plagiarism. Also a distinctive treatment of an adventurous use-combination, unmatched in form elsewhere in Victoria if not Australia.

Well, I think there’s an alternative interpretation: that it’s a derivative, second-rate implementation that captures none of the inspiration of the original style.

The second exhibit (scroll down) shows an image of a museum completed in 1960 by Japanese architect Kiyonori Kikutake. It’s a building that would’ve undoubtedly been familiar at the time to architects elsewhere.

I think it looks remarkably similar to the office “pod” on top of the Total Car Park.

The third exhibit (scroll down) shows the balustrade of the Kagawa Town Hall by the very famous Japanese architect of the era, Kenzo Tange. Again, the balustrade looks quite similar to the balustrade on the Total Car Park.

The i-Heritage database goes on to laud the structural design of the car park:

The base itself also consists of seemingly floating parking decks and the bland curtain wall of the office level is recessed so far as to appear almost disembodied from its frame. All of this was achieved with two-way cantilevering of the concrete slabs, done elegantly with cruciform beam cross-heads.

These details can be seen in the slide show provided by Melbourne Heritage Action.

But compare this building with how the cruciform beam cross-heads were executed by Tange in the Kagawa Town Hall. The Total Car Park looks like a bland, insipid imitation.

There’s subjectivity in these sorts of judgement of course, but to my eye it seems like certain elements in the Tange architectural vocabulary were picked up and applied directly in Melbourne.

I don’t have a sense that they’ve been creatively and imaginatively adapted to local circumstances, or even applied in ways that would justify terms like “interpretation”, “inspiration”, or “empathy”.

Here are some other buildings from the era by Kenzo Tange – Hiroshima Peace Palace (1955), Yoyogi National Gymnasium (1964), Yamanashi Culture Chamber (1966).

The designer of Total Car Park, who would’ve known of them, shows very little of the assurance and understanding of the brutalist style that Tange exhibits.

Whether one likes this style or not, Tange’s clearly on another plane. Those are buildings worth preserving.

The Total Car Park, by comparison, is dull, plodding and, to be frank, imitative. It’s a journeyman’s design.

It has pretensions to the Japanese Brutalist style, but it’s unoriginal, derivative, offers nothing new in its interpretation and captures none of the vision or energy of the movement.

It doubtless functioned well and satisfied users over the years and I can see why some think it’s “wacky”. But I can’t see a case for preserving it on the grounds of architectural distinction.


Museum designed by Kiyonori Kikutake (1960)


Kagawa Prefectural Government Office, designed by Kenzo Tange (1958)

source: crikey.com.au


It would appear to be somewhat of a divided opinion on this particular building. What do you think? Is it meritorious? Does it provide a unique perspective on the times it was constructed? It is a very valuable piece of Real Estate. Do you think that given the State Government overruled a Heritage listing for the first time earlier this week (the APM Boiler House in Fairfield) that Heritage Listings such as this will stand unchallenged?

From a National Perspective the following locations feature on the National Heritage List here in Victoria:

  • Abbotsford Convent
  • Bonegilla Migrant Camp – Block 19
  • Echuca Wharf
  • Eureka Stockade Gardens
  • Flemington Racecourse (the old Grandstand was recently demolished
  • Glenrowan Heritage Precinct
  • HMVS Cerberus
  • High Court of Australia (former)
  • ICI Building (former)
  • Melbourne Cricket Ground (completely new Grandstands)
  • Murtoa No. 1 Grain Store
  • Newman College
  • Point Cook Air Base
  • Point Nepean Defence Sites and Quarantine Station Area
  • Rippon Lea House and Garden
  • Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens
  • Sidney Myer Music Bowl
  • St Kilda Road and Environs

There appears to be little rhyme or reason to selection on this list or for that matter on the State Heritage Lists. It comes down to opinion. Of those we have listed, 7 sites have undergone or are undergoing very significant change in more recent times. It is precisely for this reason that our suggestion is to convene a summit of involved and interested parties to qualify, identify and protect our true Heritage buildings based on Architecture, history and community expectations and usage.


Old Member’s Grandstand at Flemington Racecourse

So at 3pm (or thereabouts) when the horses thunder down the track at Flemington and head into the straight to finish their two mile romp, look across to the right of screen at the construction project – the new Grandstand. That’s where the original Grandstand stood and the delightful ornate Grandstand that replaced it in the 1920s also stood. It’s gone, like last week’s pay, as probably will be your selection as they cross the line. But be comforted in the fact. Flemington Racecourse is Heritage Listed.

Back next week after a short break. Good luck on Tuesday.

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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.