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

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

Aug 20, 2017 10:17:18 AM

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


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

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

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

Aug 20, 2017 10:05:57 AM

From the Victorian Heritage Register…

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A CGI render of proposed open space in the Brickworks development

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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



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

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


Read more about the 60L building here…


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

portion of trees against office buildings

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

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


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

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

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

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

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is confident of community support.

From the ABC news report of 03.06.2018.


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

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

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


The State Government hopes the project will create thousands of jobs

New gallery not in competition with MONA, director says

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

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

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

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

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

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


An artists impression of green space along Southbank Boulevard

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Here is the Victorian Heritage action Newsletter.

Southbank Heritage – Have Your Say !


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


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


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

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


Submissions are due by the 29th June.


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

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

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