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.

Screen Shot 2018-06-04 at 4.03.42 pm copy

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.

Screen Shot 2018-06-04 at 4.03.09 pm copy

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.

balance logo 20150209a

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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s