Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Balance Architecture.

First of all we wish all our clients and many readers and followers a very Merry Christmas and an entirely Happy and Prosperous New Year.


This year we have reviewed a wide range of projects – Heritage, Modernist, and current designs. We’ve visited Mansions and Stately Homes throughout Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia. We really hope you’ve enjoyed our posts and blogs, and look forward to even more interesting material in 2019. Over the next few weeks we will revisit a couple of our more popular stories.

Please don’t hesitate to call us or recommend our services should you require a genuine and passionate Heritage Architectural Service. For us, Heritage is a living and valuable reality.

Some of you may recall earlier this year we visited Fortuna Villa in Bendigo, a property steeped in the history of Gold Mining in that city, built by one of the Gold Rush period’s most successful miners, Mr George Lancell. It is a prime example of the largesse of the times. George Lancell attempted to provide some restoration to the devastation that resulted from Gold Mining in those times. His actions however were those of a patron, a man of a philanthropic nature.

Many of Melbourne’s finest mansions were built on the proceeds of Gold. Lancell did something most of them didn’t – he attempted some form of restitution and rehabilitation of his mining holdings.

Fast forward to today. Research undertaken by the University of Queensland’s Centre for Mined Land Rehabilitation estimates there are over 50,000 abandoned mine sites across the nation.

The real question is what can we do to rehabilitate or utilise these sites. An article published in The Conversation titled “Afterlife of the Mine: Lessons in how towns remake challenging sites” makes for interesting reading.

Afterlife of the Mine: Lessons in how towns remake challenging sites


Old mine sites suffer many fates, which range from simply being abandoned to being incorporated into towns or turned into an open-air museum in the case of Gwalia, Western Australia.

The question of what to do with abandoned mine sites confronts both regional communities and mining companies in the wake of Australia’s recent mining boom. The companies are increasingly required to consider site remediation and reuse. Ex-mining sites do present challenges, but also hold opportunities for regional areas.

Old mine sites can provide a foundation for unique urban patterns, functions and transformations, as they have done in the past. It is useful to look at historical gold-mining regions, such as the Victorian goldfields, to understand how these sites have shaped the organisation and character of their towns.

Research by The University of Queensland’s Centre for Mined Land Rehabilitation suggests Australia has more than 50,000 abandoned mine sites. Some are in isolated places. But many others are close to or embedded within regional settlements that developed specifically to support and enable mining activity.

Abandoned mines present unique challenges for remediation:

  • the sites are large (sometimes enormous)
  • their landscapes are environmentally and structurally degraded
  • sites are often contaminated by substances used in processing – like arsenic in the case of historical goldmines.

These characteristics exclude mining sites from reuse for activities such as residential development. The sites are often considered fundamentally problematic. At times former mining sites have been reused opportunistically, accommodating functions and uses that could co-exist with the compromised physical landscape.
How have old mines shaped our towns?

The industrial patterns established during the Victorian gold-mining boom are traceable through observing the street layout and the location of civic buildings, public functions and open spaces of former gold-mining towns.

For example, in the gold-mining town of Stawell, a pattern of informal and winding tracks was established between mining functions. These tracks later provided the basis for the town’s street organisation and land division, including the meandering Main Street, which forms the central spine of the town.


Left: Cascading dams in Stawell are remnants of the industrial crushing processes that were linked together along naturally occurring gullies. Right: Looking from Cato Lake towards Stawell Town Hall.

Cato Lake, behind Main Street, was transformed from the tailings dam of the Victoria Crushing Mill. St Georges Crushing Mill and its associated dams became the Stawell Wetlands.


Current residential allotments in Stawell overlaid with the geographical survey of 1887. The gaps correspond to mining claims, crushing mills, tailings dams and other industrial processes associated with mining.

Other mining sites were transformed into the car park for Stawell Regional Health, the track for Stawell Harness Racing Club and the ovals for the local secondary college. A survey of public open spaces in Stawell shows that over time former mining sites accommodated most of the town’s public functions.


Open space in Stawell showing the correlation of past mining sites with public function: 1. Central Park – public reserve est. 1860s. 2. Cato Park and Bowls Club – was Victoria Co. Crushing Mill 3. Stawell Regional Health – built over a mullock heap associated with the St George Co. Crushing Mill. 4. Wetland Precinct – was part of St George Co. Crushing Mill 5. Stawell Harness Racing Club – was part of Wimmera Co. Crushing Mill 6. Stawell Secondary College and grounds – was part of Wimmera Co. Crushing Mill 7. Borough of Stawell reservoir (disused) – was part of Wimmera Co. Crushing Mill 8. Federation University (Stawell Campus) – was School of Mines and prior, St George Lead (surface diggings) 9. Stawell State School – public reserve established in 1865 10. North Park Recreation Reserve – was part of Galatea Co. Mine / Grants Crushing Mill 11. Stawell Leisure Complex – was part of Galatea Co. Mine / Grants Crushing Mill 12. Oriental Co. Mine Historic Area – was Oriental Co. Mine 13. Moonlight-cum-Magdala Mine Historic Area – was Magdala Mine / Moonlight Co. Mine 14. Big Hill reserve, lookout and arboretum – site of multiple claims including Sloan and Scotchman, Cross Reef Consolidated and Federal Claim

Many other Victorian goldfields towns developed in similar ways to Stawell. These towns have lakes or other water bodies in and around their central urban areas that were born out of mines.

Calembeen Park and St Georges Lake in Creswick and Lake Daylesford in Daylesford were all formed through the planned collapsing of multiple underground mines to create urban outdoor swimming spots.


Calembeen Park in Creswick is a swimming hole with a diving board that takes advantage of the extreme depth of the lake formed through collapsing several underground mines.

In Bendigo, the ornamental Lake Weeroona was formed on the site of the alluvial diggings. Other sites in these towns became parks, ovals, rubbish tips and public functions that could be accommodated on the degraded land.

Abandoned mine sites outside towns have also been used for unique purposes. Deemed unsuitable for use by the farming and forestry industries, these sites have developed into havens for flora and fauna, including endangered species. A 2015 article in Wildlife Australia magazine details instances of the Eastern Bentwing-bat and the Australian Ghost Bat adopting abandoned gold mines as replacement habitat for breeding and raising their young.

The neglect of other gold-mining sites has preserved historical remnants by default. The Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park in Victoria is one example. Here, water races, puddling machines and crushing batteries are hidden amid dense bushland.

The town of Gwalia in Western Australia, abandoned after its mine closed, has been transformed into a town-sized open-air museum.
And what uses are possible in future?

Historical gold-mining sites in or near towns continue to be adapted for unusual uses. The Stawell Goldmine on Big Hill in Stawell is being converted to accommodate the Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory (SUPL), a research laboratory one kilometre below the surface. Cosmic waves are unable to infiltrate the abandoned mining tunnels, so the conditions are ideal for exploring the theorised existence of dark matter.


Working on the Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory deep underground in an old mine tunnel.

In Bendigo it is proposed to use the extensive historical mine shafts under the town to generate and store pumped hydroelectricity. This scheme, recently explored as a feasibility study by Bendigo Sustainability Group, would use solar panels to create power to pump underground water up through the mining shafts to be stored at the surface. When power is required the water would be released through turbines to generate electricity.

The lack of demand for remediating sites for market-led uses (such as urban development, farming or forestry) broadens their potential for uses that might otherwise seem marginal or improbable, such as new forms of public space.

The scale and remoteness of many post-industrial mining sites in Australia – such as Western Australia’s Super Pit gold mine, which is 3.5 kilometres long and 600 metres deep – might mean that approaches to reuse different from those taken with historical goldmines are required. We don’t have to wait until a mine’s closure to think about how it might be used in the future.


Such dilemmas are already confronting municipal Councils on the edge of Australia’s largest cities. Quarries like the old Niddrie Quarry, west of Essendon, have been redeveloped creatively but there is a long way to go, with many such sites simply fenced off and abandoned.

The Brickworks of East Burwood is a similar site, and is now a real showpiece. In less environmentally aware times we simply filled them with industrial and domestic rubbish, then capped them – problem solved. Not really – most landfill sites became permanent open space with many emitting noxious gases.

Next year we will take a good look at some of these sites and the creative solutions modern town planners, architects and landscape architects are developing.

Till then, have a great holiday break and a great Christmas and New Year. See you in 2019.

Balance Architecture and Interior Design wish all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

At Balance, we are in the middle of a very busy phase. Apart from the main public holidays of Christmas (25th of Dec), Boxing Day (26th of Dec) and New Years Day (1st of January), we are contactable via email or via phone per our normal contact details.

By way of a Christmas gift, we revisit the current status of the Corkman Hotel fiasco in Carlton. The magistrate presiding indicated he would have jailed the developers Mr Raman Shaquiri and Stefce Kutlesovski if he had the power to do so.


Final moments of the Corkman Hotel

Take the time to read this full report of their September Court appearance courtesy of the ABC.

Developers accused of demolishing Corkman Irish Pub sentenced for dumping asbestos


Asbestos riddled debris from the Corkman Irish Pub was dumped in a vacant lot in Cairnlea

A magistrate says he would have jailed two Melbourne developers if he had the power to, after they pleaded guilty to dumping asbestos from an illegally demolished historic pub near homes and a childcare centre.

Developers Raman Shaqiri and Stefce Kutlesovski were each fined $120,000 for failing to securely contain asbestos-riddled debris at the site of the demolished Corkman Irish Hotel in inner-city Carlton, and for then dumping it in Cairnlea, in Melbourne’s north-west.

The developer’s company, 160 Leicester Pty Ltd, was fined a further $300,000.

In sentencing, magistrate Richard Pithouse told the Sunshine Magistrate Court the men’s “cavalier disregard for the law” meant they should go to jail, but the legislation did not allow it.

“You don’t know how close you came to jail,” Magistrate Pithouse said.

“If jail were available, I would impose imprisonment for such a blatant breach.”

He said the exposed asbestos in Carlton and Cairnlea put the community at substantial risk.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s a shopping bag full or a spec,” he said.

The magistrate also slammed Mr Kutlesovski for his behaviour in the court, telling him: “I wouldn’t be sitting rubbing your chin so smugly as you are today.”

“I hope everyone knows your name,” he continued.

“You think you’re above the law, but you are not.”


The Corkman Irish Hotel, which was popular with students, was destroyed without a permit.

The EPA welcomed the fine.

“The directors and the company in this case have shown blatant disregard for the environment, for public health, for community safety,” CEO Cathy Wilkinson said.

“It’s unacceptable [and] EPA Victoria puts on notice illegal dumpers.

“Victorians want polluters, want people who do the wrong thing, held to account.

“We don’t want asbestos uncontrolled in the environment, it needs to be dealt with appropriately.”

She would not say if the men should have been jailed.
Historic pub illegally demolished and never rebuilt

The pub, formerly known as the Carlton Inn Hotel, stood on the corner of Pelham and Leicester streets in Carlton for 159 years, but was demolished in October of 2016.

Three days later, the Environmental Protection Authority noted that the debris on site could contain asbestos.

A sample was tested and confirmed the authority’s suspicion.

The developers were ordered to cover the debris, but five days later a pile of rubble was found at Cairnlea, opposite residential homes and only 350 metres from a childcare centre.


The pub in 1957, when it was known as the Carlton Inn Hotel

A brick in the rubble with a City West Water serial number on it confirmed the materials had come from the site of the Corkman Irish Pub.

The developers also failed to ensure the debris at the Carlton site was adequately covered, with the tarpaulin found to be ripped or unstuck and blowing in the wind on numerous occasions.

The developers had promised to return the pub to its former glory but this did not happen.

Mr Shaqiri and 160 Leicester Pty Ltd pleaded guilty in May to knocking down the Corkman Irish Pub.

Mr Kutlesovski is fighting the charges and will face a four-day hearing in January.


Mr Kutlesovski will be appearing in court to face further individual charges in January as for some inexplicable reason (which however it must be said is his right) he has decided to plead not guilty to the charges.

His fellow Developer MR Shaquiri and their joint company have pleaded guilty back in May to knocking down the pub. We will keep you posted as to any further developments. At this point no attempt has been made to fulfil the order requiring the full restoration of the Corkman Hotel to its original state.

By way of contrast we now cast our gaze in the direction of Adelaide – its West End of the city to be exact.


Here we visit another Hotel, an older pub facing demolition, not as with the Corkman by stealth, but rather with the blessings of the South Australian Government. The Marshall Government is somewhat gung-ho pro-development so this glorious hotel, which first opened its doors in 1837, now faces demolition for potential ‘student accomodation’ – another tower.

For many years the ‘Eddie’ as it was affectionately known was the central venue for Adelaide’s Gay and Lesbian community.

But to give it its proper title, The Edinburgh Castle Hotel is a prime example of early colonial architecture and construction in Adelaide. With precise masonry using selected local stone, hand made bricks, iron lace work, at a guess the building originally would have featured a slate roof. With ornate chimneys, dentils, curved brick window surrounds and doors in feature brick, this was a building meant to last.


It is now outside of the province of the South Australian Planning Minister to nominate the building for a State Heritage Listing. This can be accomplished by simply anyone nominating the building to the South Australian Heritage Council. To date no-one has!

What it will take in the end is someone willing to put up about $3 million. The big question is will they get a return on their investment. Or will they purchase with a bigger picture in mind – preservation

One could surmise that such an original property, part of Adelaide’s early history is entirely worthy of preservation. If you so agree you can sign this petition to the South Australian Planning Minister Mr Stephen Knoll.

View the Help Save the Edinburgh Castle Hotel petition here

Right now Adelaide is suffering from the destruction of many of its older and more iconic buildings in the name of ‘Development’. Beautiful crafted buildings are being replaced by bland nondescript towers.


Even in the ‘City of Churches’ – churches are not sacrosanct. The Maughan Church, an extraordinary building is gone, demolished to make way for a 20 storey $80 million development.


Putting it simply – it has to stop. Adelaide was the first entirely ‘free settlement’ in Australia. It was graced with capital and wealth by its earliest inhabitants. At the current rate of destruction there, it’s likely that historians will find it difficult to make a case that the settlement commenced prior to 1880.

Heritage has real value. It is who we are and where we have come from. It is imperative that we protect it.

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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. For further information on Balance Architecture’s services or to make an appointment for a free consultation, please click here or call 0418 341 443.

The Big Apple at Fed Square. Delayed for one year.

The Victorian Government, the NEW Victorian Government, well ok its the old Victorian Government with a much bigger mandate must be feeling somewhat edgy about its Federation Square plans for a new Apple Store. Its delayed the project for a year. This could be based on a sense of uncertainty or it could be a tactic to wait until the project has less fizz. Either way, the start date, originally timed for the commencement of 2019 has now been pushed back to 2020, with the Apple Store to open in 2021.


Of course there is the little matter of a Heritage Listing in the offing for Federation Square. Heritage Victoria have recommended the location in totality, be included on the Victorian Heritage Register. A decision is expected on finalising the Heritage Listing early next year (2019).

There has been an almighty backlash to the proposal to put an Apple Store into the Square, a public space. The decision to proceed was secretive with planning permits being issued without public consultation or Council approval. The commercialisation of what is essentially a public space has met with solid opposition from the City of Melbourne and a range of interest groups.


See our previous blogs on this Fed Square development:

Originally mooted and proposed by the then Tourism Minister Philip Dalidakis, the project was pushed heavily by the Government and the Federation Square Management team. In it annual report, the Fed Square team pointed out that “there are only 6 Global flagship Apple Stores worldwide with only one located in the Southern Hemisphere.” Federation Square management believed the store would attract an extra 2 million people to Federation Square each year. It pointed out that the Civic and Cultural Charter of Federation Square covered such a development and suggested the project would bring a range of significant benefits to the community.

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The two ministers John Eren and Phillip Dalidakis were both not re-appointed upon the re-election of the Andrews Government. The City of Melbourne demanded a significantly different design for the Apple Building before consideration for permits was considered in July this year.

The re-elected Premier Daniel Andrews is standing by the Store.

“Do we really want this thing to go to Sydney with all the jobs and opportunities that go with it? That’s not my position” Mr Andrews told the Age newspaper.


Great PR but at no stage does either the Government, the Federation Square Management team or the Premier himself acknowledge the unique architectural wonder that is Federation Square – a public space designed to host large crowds of people at public events.

It must be considered as a whole and not by its parts. It is a world class facility recognised widely as a masterful design that will stand the test of time – unlike that phone you’re using or the tablet that gets tweeked every two years to get you to purchase another one.

Federation Square must remain intact to fully retain its integrity. Bring on 2020 and the Heritage Listing decision. Some things are just best left as they are.

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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. For further information on Balance Architecture’s services or to make an appointment for a free consultation, please click here or call 0418 341 443.