The ‘Old City’ – Victoria Market – its essence

World wide major cities make efforts to protect what is commonly known as ‘Old Cities’. But it would appear not so in Melbourne Having been blocked in excavating the area beneath the existing carpark and the existing sheds by Heritage Victoria, the City of Melbourne are now proposing the carpark to become Melbourne’s largest Public Square. A nearby multi-storey carpark would provide carparking for market visitors. Heritage Victoria estimates over 6500 bodies are currently buried beneath the car park and nearby sheds.

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Where it was originally planned to provide refrigeration service areas and facilities underneath the original market sheds, this plan has now been abandoned by Council. Its planning now calls for storage and refrigeration at the individual market stalls – the result would be ‘fixed stalls’ – not a feature of traditional open air markets.

Queen Victoria Markets is the last remnant of Melbourne’s vibrant market culture. Over many years this has been the place where students, migrants and those of lower socio-economic social strata chose to shop for life’s essentials. Bohemians and battlers select vegetables and sip good coffee.

In times past Melbourne was very well serviced by open air Markets in what would eventually become the CBD.

There was the Eastern Market bounded by Bourke St, Exhibition St and Little Collins St – on the site the former Southern Cross Hotel was built upon. [PIC]


The Eastern Market

The Western Markets stood on the corner of Williams St, Bourke St and Little Collins St.


The Western Market

The Fish Market abutted the Railway viaduct from Kings St to Spencer St on Flinders St.


The Fish Market

The Meat Market was located in North Melbourne


Meat Market

The Queen Victoria Market was until the 1960s a wholesale market, but with the construction of the Footscray Rd Market, it reverted to retail trade.

All of this is ‘Old City’ and its patently obvious that the Queen Victoria Market is in fact both architecturally and practically the last remnant of what was, and for practical purposes still is a vibrant market economy.

Economists just don’t get it. Everything in their world is measured against return on the dollars invested.

It looks very much like there must be a compromise reached but what one person sees as ‘coffins’ (see article below), others see as tradition. It’s the very fact that the market in no way resembles a modern shopping precinct that ensures its charm and relevance.

Here is a report from the Age, March 28th.

Biggest public square in Melbourne planned for Queen Vic Market

A new public space larger than Federation Square would replace the open-air carpark at Queen Victoria Market under the latest proposed redevelopment of the 141-year-old tourist icon.

Melbourne City Council has now abandoned plans to dig beneath four of the market’s heritage sheds to create three levels of underground car parking and a service area for traders.

The latest proposal would still deliver 1000 car parks for market customers, which has long been a contentious issue, but they would be contained within a 38-storey apartment tower on the corner of Queen and Therry streets and a future development site on Franklin Street.

Lord mayor Sally Capp said once the new car parks had been built the existing asphalt car park would be turned into the biggest public square in Melbourne.

The 1.5 hectare civic space – to be called Market Square – would be used as a venue for community festivals, farmers’ markets and other events and provide a place where people could eat.

None of the proposed works will disturb the 6500 bodies that lie buried beneath the market in what used to be the Old Melbourne Cemetery, which is believed to be an archeological treasure trove.

Heritage Victoria last year rejected the underground parking lot, saying it could not be assured the market’s heritage sheds could be returned to the site in their original condition.

The heritage authority also believed the fabric of the 19th century market – the largest open-air market in the southern hemisphere – would be irreversibly altered if it went ahead.

Cr Capp said while this was disappointing, the council wanted to move on and address the challenges facing the market while maintaining its heritage.

But a part of the latest proposed revamp – a $6 million plan to have storage and refrigeration at fruit and vegetable stalls – could also raise some concerns.

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Mary-Lou Howie

“Fixed stalls are not part of traditional market operations, we would lose the sense of an open-air market,” said Friends of Queen Victoria Market president Mary-Lou Howie.

Ms Howie also said replacing the open-air car park would “kill the market”. Ms Howie, whose father was a trader at the market, said she often filled the boot of her car twice during her market shops.

She said the new car parks would not be appropriate for market shoppers and traders depended on the convenience of the existing car park.

“Without the car park the market will shrink,” Ms Howie said. The market is Melbourne’s “old city” she says, “and all cities protect their old cities. Not us.”

The latest redevelopment proposal, which will seek in-principle support from Melbourne City councillors next Tuesday night, is part of a $280 million renewal of the site.

The council wants to redevelop the market to ensure it provides a brighter future for the produce and retail centre, parts of which have high vacancy rates.

Apartment development means an extra 22,000 residents will live nearby within five years.

The latest proposal will include centralised waste facilities in Queen Street north and loading facilities, trader storage and amenities and waste management for the Meat and Fish Hall at the G shed site.

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This was a recommendation made by a “people’s panel”, a group of 40 traders, customers and residents, established by the council to help guide it on decisions related to the market.

Economist Marcus Spiller, whose company SGS Economic and Planning completed the business case arguing for a major redevelopment of the market, last year said Queen Victoria Market was “suffering an incremental decline”.

“If you go through the market on any day but Saturday, you will see stalls with hessian shrouds over them – almost like coffins,” he told The Age.

SGS found the latest option to be considered by councillors “costs the least to implement, is the only option likely to pay for itself financially and has the most manageable delivery risks”.

It found that for every dollar spent on the option being considered, $7 would be generated in overall economic benefits.

Mr Wynne said he was pleased the council was protecting the market’s heritage while providing an upgrade to secure its future viability.

“The market is a massive tourist attraction and for locals it’s part of our community,” he said.


The Market Square sounds attractive, however the conundrum is parking. As Marie Lou Howie says in the article, people require convenience that allows them to take their purchases to their cars. Queen and Therry St and the other multistorey parking planned for Franklin St simply is not convenient.

Personally we love the hustle and bustle of the open-air markets, traders hawking their produce, tasty fresh snacks. So please – don’t change it.

But let’s look for a solution that, having acknowledged and saved the heritage aspects, manages to capture and maintain that open air feel, that ‘Old City’ function.

It does tend to bring that Joni Mitchell song to mind – with some confusion. It’s the end game reversed. Parking lot removed and the greenery returned.

This one will be interesting.

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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.

Le Fanu – Perth’s most expensive renovation.

In late February, Le Fanu, a Queen Anne style home originally built in 1893 as a ‘holiday cottage’ – with 5 rooms – for the then Manager of the Western Australian Bank, Mr Henry Diggins Holmes, his wife Maria and their children. Cottesloe was a holiday destination for Perth denizens in those days. The family called the home ‘Banksia’.

The home underwent significant alterations between 1898 and 1900. In 1945 the property was purchased by the Anglican Church. The church renamed the property ‘Le Fanu’ in honour of the Bishop of Perth, Henry Frewen Le Fanu (1929-1946). It was used as a meeting place for various church religious groups.


It was again sold in 1973 to an Esperance farmer. However her plans for a restoration to its former status as a beachside holiday home never eventuated and the property fell into disrepair and ruin.


The current owners purchased the property in 2009. A massive restoration and refurbishment was planned and executed over 3 years by Zorzi Builders under the supervision of Heritage Architect the late Ian Hocking of Hocking Heritage Studio.


The property was restored under the guidance of the State Heritage Council and the Town of Cottesloe. Over 300 tradesmen and artisans worked on the building, spending ‘hundreds of thousands of hours’ to restore and refurbish Le Fanu, not just to its former glory, but to be perhaps the most beautiful of seaside residences today in modern Perth.


David Reynolds, Zorzi Builders’ business development director, said many eager tradies would work after dark and on weekends to finish their jobs. “They’d try to sneak back in and get on with it. It was quite unique.”


Where possible, original features of Le Fanu were saved. Restoring, retaining and individually numbering salt-affected limestone bricks, which were more than 100 years old, for reuse was an arduous task.


Shattered floor tiles had to be salvaged to be reinstated and were reused as a feature in the home’s entry.


The restoration has paid homage to Le Fanu’s historic past with marble flooring, a grand use of timber, high ceilings, soaring columns, custom-made cornices, architraves, mouldings, skirtings and restored original fireplaces.


Other features include wrought-iron arched doors, an immense outdoor area and courtyard, a sweeping balcony that capitalises on the ocean views, a full home automation system, a state-of-the-art security system with cameras, as well as a wine cellar and tasting room, a marble-floored 10-car garage and a lift to connect the home’s three levels.



Le Fanu was classified by the National Trust in 1975. It was attributed the highest grading. Land value alone in 2009 was estimated to be $15 million. The only possible outcome for any purchaser was to renovate. As such the property was offered for sale at a mere $6.5 million! It ended up selling for $4.25 million.

For the new owners, this was their first renovation project – simply extraordinary. As mentioned the owners engaged the late Ian Hocking of Hocking Heritage Studio to supervise the project (he passed away in Nov 2014). Approvals were stringent – even the furniture had to meet with Heritage Council approval.

Perhaps the best way to enjoy this splendid renovation is through the gallery of pictures provided.

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With over $11 million spent on renovation and refurbishments its rather pleasing to see such an investment being made in heritage values. it was no doubt a difficult project but what a simply breathtaking result.


Superb, gorgeous, exquisite. Take a seat, a gin and tonic and stare out into the Indian Ocean. Heritage restoration can be simply spectacular.

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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.

Chadwick House Eaglemont – A True Treasure

Every so often a rather remarkable property will make its way onto the market. Chadwick House is such a property. Originally built in 1904 to a design by influential architect Harold Desbrowe Annear, the property was purchased over 30 years ago by well known and respected Architect Peter Crone. Peter and his wife Jane set about lovingly restoring it to its original glory.

Here’s the full story. In 2008, the first stage of the property’s restoration was rewarded with the John George Knight Award for Heritage Architecture.

Architectural treasure Chadwick House for sale after 30-year restoration


Chadwick House at 32-34 The Eyrie, Eaglemont is for sale for the first time in three decades.

Eaglemont’s pioneering Chadwick House, which was instrumental in introducing open-plan living to Australian houses, has hit the market following a decades-long restoration by its owners.

Eaglemont’s pioneering Chadwick House has hit the market, following a three-decade labour-of-love restoration by its owners.

Influential architect Harold Desbrowe-Annear designed the ahead-of-its-time residence at 32-34 The Eyrie in 1904 for his father-in-law James Chadwick.

The Heritage Council of Victoria describes Desbrowe-Annear as “instrumental in introducing the open-plan form into Australian domestic architecture”, with the house and two neighbouring abodes named Annear and Officer early reflections of his modernist innovation.


Peter Crone at the Chadwick House in 2008, when his painstaking restoration won a prestigious architecture award.


A plaque stating the home’s heritage credentials.

A heritage plaque on Chadwick House’s lush 1458sq m landholding states it “incorporates medieval-inspired Arts and Crafts elements with modernist ideas such as open planning”.

Architect Peter Crone and his wife Jane bought the Heritage Victoria- and National Trust of Australia-listed pad about 30 years ago and have been restoring and enhancing it ever since.

They’ve now listed the property with a $3.15-$3.35 million price guide — to move next door and renovate another house in the Desbrowe-Annear trio.


The innovative sitting room, which took about a year to restore.


The stately dining room.

Mr Crone said it had been a thrill to own one of Australia’s most significant 20th century homes, which he first learned of while studying architecture as “one of the first, if not the first so-called modern houses in the country”.

His painstaking renovation — stage one of which won the prestigious John George Knight Award for Heritage Architecture in 2008 — involved stripping back any unsympathetic additions to the house and restoring or replacing original features.

“I reinstated about 19 original windows that had all been changed,” he said.

“And the main sitting room, the largest room in the house, had all its Californian redwood panelling (and) an original fireplace taken out. It took about a year to redo the whole room.”


The house features four bedrooms.


The modern stainless steel kitchen.

Mr Crone had limited information about the original state of the residence and had to “crawl in the roof and under the house” to determine its design roots.

He’d loved the home’s “magic site” atop a sloping hillside, offering views over the treetops towards the Dandenongs.

He will continue to enjoy the surrounds from Desbrowe-Annear’s own house next door, where his mother-in-law had lived until her recent death, and which he and Jane have now turned their attentions to.

Miles Real Estate director Stewart Oldmeadow dubbed the house in a tightly held pocket of Melbourne a “living antique” that was “so far ahead of its time, with the open-planned nature of the home”.


Striking wooden panelling characterises the home’s interior


The house also features an alfresco deck.

The Crones had not only returned the house to its original glory, but added modern comforts including two renovated bathrooms and ducted airconditioning to make it a “turnkey proposition”, he said.

The home’s two storeys also feature four bedrooms, a stately dining room plus a “breakfast room”, a gourmet stainless-steel kitchen, cellar, two verandas, open fireplaces, Jarrah flooring and a double garage topped by an alfresco deck.

The property’s expressions of interest campaign closes at 5pm on April 16, with inspections by appointment only.


The lush surrounds.


This is a beautiful restoration. For those who can afford the asking price, it is a wonderful opportunity. And to everyone else, it is a perfect example of how our precious heritage can be maintained, carefully, skillfully and lovingly. Congratulations to Peter Crone and his wife Jane on a job well done!

Heritage lives!

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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.

Federation Square – It’s not apples at all!

The Federation Square debacle rages on with new rulings from the Melbourne City Council rejecting Apple’s current plan outright, and one of the original award-winning architects on the precinct’s original design speaking out against the proposed demolition of the Yarra Building. Architect Peter Davidson’s opposition contrasts with his former partner at LAB Architecture, Donald Bates.

It is now up to Heritage Victoria to decide whether to agree to the demolition.

Here is the report on the Melbourne City Council deliberations…

Melbourne City Council opposes demolishing key Fed Square building

Melbourne City Council has voted to oppose the demolition of a key building in Federation Square in order to build an Apple megastore after receiving more than 1100 submissions from concerned Victorians.

The State Government shocked Melbourne by announcing days before Christmas in 2017 that part of the city’s civic square would be knocked down so Apple could build one of only five “global flagship stores” in the world.

Federation Square management has applied for a waiver of heritage rules to demolish the Yarra building in order to construct the new building.

A spokesman for Citizens for Melbourne, which has been coordinating the Our City, Our Square campaign, said on Tuesday night that more than 100,000 people had signed petitions opposing the Apple store and more than 1100 had provided submissions to the council.


An artist’s impression of the proposed Apple store at Federation Square.

“The proposed Apple store … does not respond to the existing architecture of the square nor to the design thinking that informed its original design,” architect Michael Smith said.

“The proposed building will act as a spatial billboard for the Apple brand in a place with minimal signage and no overt advertising and branding.”

Citizens for Melbourne asked the council to go one step forward and petition the State Government to take over custodianship of Federation Square and “protect it as our town square”.

Cr Rohan Leppert said local heritage policy was very clear that “we should resist the demolition” of the Yarra building.

He noted the 1100 community submissions, saying: “It is not just a numbers game … but none of us are blind to the opinion and sentiment that has been expressed over the last few days and shouted in our direction.”


The Yarra building at Federation Square, proposed for demolition to make way for Apple.

Cr Leppert said the council was not having a proxy debate about the preferred management model of Federation Square, but it was “worth noting how many people have spoken about the issue”.

Cr Nicholas Reece said while he supported an Apple store at Federation Square the Yarra building site needed to maintain its “campus style character”.

“The reason why management are crying out for an Apple store is because the business model is really struggling and they need the revenue,” Cr Reece said. “If it was done right the Apple store … wouldn’t lead to the corporatisation of Federation Square.

He said most importantly for him, however, was that “we should keep the geometric stonework pattern because it has become so iconic and a sort of motif for Melbourne”.

“To see that completely removed from the building is something I could not come at,” he said.

The only councillor not to oppose the demolition of the Yarra building was Cr Philip Le Liu.

He said the proposed Apple store, which would be smaller than the existing Yarra building, meant there would be 500 metres of extra open space for the city.

Cr Le Liu said architect Donald Bates had always said the Yarra building would be for a commercial purpose.

“I remember people saying whatever is going to be there is going to be an ugly building. I remember the same thing in 2002 when Federation Square came on, people said it was ugly and strange and no one would like it. And yet here we are,” Cr Le Liu said.

In responding to concerns about the commercialisation of Federation Square, Cr Le Liu said: “What about cafes, restaurants, shops does that mean we also get rid of them? This is a very difficult decision.”

It is now up to Heritage Victoria to decide whether to agree to the demolition.


And it’s worth reading this report on the thoughts and objections of original LAB Architecture’s winning design Architect Peter Davidson. This report was published prior to the Council meeting.

‘Terrible’: Apple plan slammed by a Fed Square designer

One of the architects who designed Federation Square has spoken out for the first time against plans to demolish one of the square’s key buildings to build an Apple mega-store.

Architect Peter Davidson was one of two designers behind Federation Square when it was commissioned by then premier Jeff Kennett in the 1997.

Completed in 2002 amid much criticism, many have come to love the square’s landmark buildings and public spaces.

Now, on the cusp of a decision on whether to allow one of the square’s buildings to be demolished for Apple, Mr Davidson has voiced his opposition.


A protest last month against the planned demolition at Federation Square to make way for an Apple store

Mr Davidson had a stroke in 2010. While he has largely recovered, he lost his ability to communicate easily.

Approached by The Age for his views on the Apple project, Mr Davidson provided a transcribed statement outlining his opposition to demolition of Federation Square’s Yarra building.

In the Yarra building’s place, under a plan designed by British architecture firm Foster and Partners, a new Apple “global flagship store” would be built.

The new building, exclusively for Apple, would help deliver more public space and better integration between the Yarra River and the square.


Simon Thewlis @thuzzles It was great to see architect Peter Davidson at the rally today

Mr Davidson said he would support the plan if Apple, instead of demolishing the building, chose to move into it.

He said the public had not been adequately consulted before the state government decided to hand the space to the technology giant.

And Mr Davidson said he had not been consulted by Apple or Federation Square management before the announcement was made. He said he should have been asked.


Architects Donald Bates, left, and Peter Davidson in 1998 front of a model of Federation Square

Asked his view of the Foster and Partners building to replace his and partner Donald Bates’ original design, Mr Davidson said: “It’s terrible. It’s a different type of architecture altogether.”

Mr Davidson’s step-daughter, Daine Singer, said that though he had lost much of his ability to communicate since his stroke, his architectural knowledge, cognitive faculties and strong opinions were intact.

She said he felt strongly that the Yarra building should not be demolished. “Before his stroke, he would’ve been down there giving press conferences, yelling and screaming,” she said.

Mr Davidson’s opposition is in contrast to his former LAB architecture partner, Mr Bates, whose support for the Apple plan has regularly been used by the Victorian government to rebuff critics.

Mr Davidson said that he was not opposed to altering the square to suit the city’s changing needs. And he agreed the interface between the square and the river could be improved.

His views on the demolition appear in tune with a flood of submissions from the public to heritage authorities, as they weigh up whether to let it proceed.

The state planning department said Heritage Victoria, the body that recommends historic building protection, received more than 3300 public submissions opposing demolition. “This is likely to be the most received,” a spokesman said.

On Tuesday, Melbourne City Council will vote on whether to oppose demolition of the Yarra building. Federation Square management have applied for a waiver of heritage rules to knock it down.

A council officers’ report said demolition should not be allowed because the Apple store “does not successfully form part of an assembly of campus buildings, rather due to its architecture and siting, it presents as a stand-alone building”.

“The proposed replacement building does not adequately contribute to the cultural and heritage significance, character and appearance of Federation Square and does not satisfy the requirements of local heritage policy.”


It would appear that there is much public consternation over both the planning and projected outcomes for the Apple project. Frankly, it’s hard to accept that adding an entirely new design to the precinct is in the best interests of the integrity of Federation Square and its precinct.

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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.