Yarrawonga Town Hall – an integral part of Old Yarrawonga’s heritage.

Inter-War Free Classical styled Shire Hall (1930), entry portico, Belmore Street, Yarrawonga.
Source: Lorraine Huddle 2004.

Yarrawonga has been a prominent riverside community in Northern Victoria for well over a century. The township was first surveyed in 1868 by government surveyor Henry Grimes. The early survey included sections 1-4 of the subsequent town planning scheme and includes the main part of the Town Centre Heritage precinct (south of Witt Street and north of Orr Street.). During the1880s, brick structures began to replace timber structures and the boom times of the 1880s saw many buildings begin to line Belmore Street. This growth consolidated through the harsher years of the 1890s.

The township’s prominence was initially due to the river crossing on the mighty Murray River. In 1886 the Railway reached Yarrawonga – a branch line from Benalla that linked the township to the state capital Melbourne. By 1903 it boasted a population of 1500 residents and supported a variety of industries.

But what may be forgotten is the history of Paddle steamers and barges passing through the ‘port’ of Yarrawonga in the late 19th century – carrying cargos of wheat, wool, timber and general merchandise between Echuca and Wodonga, right through to the mouth of the Murray at Goolwa in South Australia, then by train to the waiting ships and early steamers anchored at Victor Harbour. The Building of the Yarrawonga Weir in 1939 meant the end of the river trade and its boats and barges, but there are now still restored river boats plying Lake Mulwala for the tourist trade.

By this stage, Yarrawonga was a firmly established rural centre with wonderful old buildings and a broad avenue as its main thoroughfare – Belmore Street. Complete with statuesque tall palm trees. Buildings included the Shire Offices (1896), the State Savings Bank of Victoria (1912), the Post Office (1904), the Athenaeum Hall (1885) and the Shire Town Hall (1930).

Of course much of the decorative trappings have disappeared over the last fifty 50 years – the Kurrajong trees, the Palm trees, the chain and stone surrounds of the central roundabout. But the magnificent Yarrawonga Shire Hall still stands with its distinctive Art Deco theming.

‘The new shire hall was begun in 1929 and completed in 1930. With the rapid growth of Yarrawonga’s population in the interwar period, with both expanding agricultural production and the construction works associated with the weir, the hall answered a longstanding demand for expanded municipal offices for the Shire of Yarrawonga. The architects commissioned for the work were Harrison; Glaskin of Albury. The builder was J. Keith, whose tendered cost was £14,875. The hall was part of a large program of municipal works, including the sealing of roads and drain construction that occurred around this time.The Inter-War Free Classical style has a courageous weaving of Art Deco decorative themes into the detailing. Essentially composed of individual symmetrical elevations, it has a strong asymmetrical form, emphasised by the unusual roof outline. The subtle cement rendered classical modelling on the Belmore Street façade has giant order Corinthian columns in-antis either side of the recessed entrance and a tall corner tower addressing the intersection of Belmore and Orr Streets. The building is also a very important architectural landmark in Belmore Street. It is the largest building in the street. The bold corner tower, unusual roof form and superb architectural details create variety and delight in the streetscape. The building is also a very important architectural landmark in Belmore Street. It is the largest building in the street. The bold corner tower, unusual roof form and superb architectural details create variety and delight in the streetscape.’ – Moira Shire Stage Two Heritage Study 2007.

Corner clock tower illustrating the subtle cement rendered Free Classical detailing with Art Deco capitals on the classical pilasters.
Source: Lorraine Huddle Pty Ltd. 2005

In its own way, the former Shire Hall building (Yarrawonga now forms part of an expanded Moira Shire.) flows comfortably with the existing heritage architecture already mentioned.

Now we reach the present. The Yarrawonga Community Hall constructed in the 1950s is scheduled to be demolished. The current plan of the Moira Shire is to replace it with a new building, its purpose to have a new library and performance precinct.

Map of Yarrawonga Town Centre Precinct with location of 59 significant places marked with red dots.
Source: MOIRA SHIRE STAGE TWO HERITAGE STUDY 2007

The current design and plan for this new facility is quite simply inappropriate and incongruous to the current streetscape and the magnificent Shire Town Hall itself. It shows a complete determination to inject a modernist style building into what is essentially a late 19th century to early 20th century streetscape. It demonstrates absolutely no sympathy with or to the architectural style. It is in fact somewhat gimmicky and bizarre, spelling out the words ‘LIBRARY’ and ‘YARRAWONGA’ for those who perhaps have no idea where they are!

The new design is at best neutral, however in terms of the history, the former stunning streetscape has been quietly removed over time – it is a design entirely lacking in empathy for the Yarrawonga Heritage precinct. It pays no homage to the clever, intricate Art Nouveau design of the existing Yarrawonga Shire Town Hall, it ignores the streetscape of the late 19th century buildings and early 20th century pre and mid war architecture. It simply does not blend with, or compliment the present architecture.

With the prospect of losing their Community Hall as well as the pre-school centre already demolished, it is time for the Moira Shire to pay heed to the expectations and wishes of the local community. The current plan and design simply do not recognise the Heritage values of the Yarrawonga precinct, its history and its potential future role in honouring that Heritage. Consideration must be given to formulating a more considered design that melds with the current Town Hall/Shire Hall building and the immediate surrounds.

Heritage Protection in Victoria. How Does It Actually Work?

For many people heritage protection of both buildings, precincts and open space is somewhat confusing. In real terms the cultural basis of our living city Melbourne and regional cities, our rural areas, our history is integrally bound up in our treasured heritage buildings and precincts. For Indigenous people, our First Nation’s people, heritage values are of vital importance in terms of their connection to country, their history, their culture and their beliefs.  

Heritage values are imperative in our understanding of our current circumstances and urban development, and the influence the past has had in formulating those values. Last week one of our readers commented that heritage is not just about the grandeur of older buildings, the mansions and estates, the public buildings such as town halls, the railway stations and other old world edifices, such as mechanics institutes, masonic halls, churches and the like. Her view was that heritage has a much broader impact and foundation and she’s quite correct. For instance, many inner city suburbs – Carlton, Fitzroy, South Melbourne, Albert Park and Clifton Hill –  for example, have complete suburb wide heritage overlays that protect large swathes of early residential housing, streetscapes, parks and public buildings as well as historical places of interest. Today it is the responsibility of the Heritage Council of Victoria, established in 1995, to maintain the Victorian heritage database. It is overseen and advised by Heritage Victoria, a division of the Victorian government planning department, as to what places and objects deserve protection and conservation in having State level heritage. This authority was formalised by the Heritage Act of 2017 in the Victorian State Parliament. The area that is somewhat less clear and not as effectively protected is what is described as “local level heritage”.

From the Heritage Victoria website:

“Local-level heritage – The protection of places of local heritage significance is the responsibility of Victoria’s 79 local councils (councils). The Planning and Environment Act 1987obliges all of Victoria’s councils to use their Planning Schemes to conserve and enhance buildings, areas or other places which are of significance within their municipalities. Planning Schemes set out objectives, policies and controls for the use, development and protection of land within a municipality. Councils are responsible for ensuring their Planning Schemes protect places with local heritage significance through a Heritage Overlay. To introduce a Heritage Overlay for a place or precinct, a Planning Scheme Amendment is prepared by council with the final decision made by the Minister for Planning. There are about 23,000 heritage places listed in Heritage Overlays in local government planning schemes. These places can include buildings, structures, farmhouses, gardens, mining and industrial sites, residential precincts and historic town centres, as well as many other types of heritage places of importance to local communities. Altogether, upwards of 180,000 properties in Victoria are included in heritage overlays. Tens of thousands of these properties include Victorian, Edwardian and other early twentieth century buildings, many in heritage precincts. There are about 23,000 heritage places listed in Heritage Overlays in local government planning schemes. Councils are responsible for conducting heritage studies, investigating the merits of listing places in their Heritage Overlays and consulting with their communities. If a Heritage Overlay does not apply to a place or precinct, and a council considers that it is worthy of protection, it is able to request the Minister for Planning to apply an Interim Heritage Overlay. This introduces a temporary heritage overlay to a place while it is being assessed by council for local heritage significance. A request for an Interim Heritage Overlay may be prompted by a demolition request or planning application for redevelopment received by a council. Councils have a safety-net under the Building Act 1993to prevent demolition of important buildings that have, for whatever reason, not yet been provided with protection until an assessment is made of their potential importance. The Building Act requires a report and consent of council for a building permit for the major demolition of a building on land within its municipality. This provides the council with an opportunity to advise of the need for a planning permit or an opportunity to seek an Interim Heritage Overlay if one is considered warranted.”

Original facade of building above and changes made subsequently below illustrate how the original architectural style can be lost.

To reiterate there are three levels of heritage protection activity in the State of Victoria. The majority of heritage buildings, architecture and places in Victoria fall under the protection of the State’s 79 local councils.  In our opinion the protection offered in many cases is manifestly ineffective and, as such, is open to manipulation by unscrupulous builders and developers.It is plainly evident that some local government authorities value increased income through strata title property rates collection over properly enforced heritage protection; with many heritage overlays being hopelessly outdated and inadequate. For heritage protection to work the requirement for there needs to be a clear understanding of which body is expected to provide and enforce such protection. Where the responsibility is that of local government authorities they have often failed. In recent times there has been a plethora of unnecessary demolitions and outright destruction of heritage buildings and streetscapes. This has simply confirmed the inadequacy of current legislation.  Melbourne has grown and expanded substantially since 1995 and in many cases local government has simply not kept pace with registering precincts or buildings for heritage protection

Balance Architecture offer a full Heritage Consultation service for both Heritage property owners and Community groups with significant interest in local heritage.  Principal Architect Andrew Fedorowicz is available to meet and confer with interested parties, develop site reports and provide expert appraisal on all Heritage properties, precincts or projects affecting Heritage overlays.

Call now on 0418341443 to speak directly with Andrew or leave your details here for a prompt response.

Balance Architecture recognises the importance of Historical Architecture. We specialise in the restoration and renovation of Heritage buildings and property,

The Battle Continues. Is it heritage or just a ‘façade’?

East Melbourne is an area covered by both Heritage overlays and individual Heritage listings. It features some of Melbourne’s grandest buildings. Over the years there have been many stoushes to protect what is a unique vista and part of Melbourne’s living history.

The latest property to be put at risk is the ‘landmark’ East Melbourne Mansion, Eblana, the former home of Young and Jackson’s publican Thomas Jackson. It was built in 1883 in the ‘Grand Italianate’ style of the times.

Developers consider if the façade remains then there’s no reason they cannot demolish the rear of a stately home and replace it with a modern tower, in this case four stories high, rising to 15m over the height limit for the precinct.

There’s a simple reason such projects get traction – profit. Four new luxury apartments towering over the original building offer a staggering return on investment. To the property owner or developer the equation is simple – it’s worth pushing the boundaries on Heritage to achieve a compromise. But quite simply there should NEVER be a compromise of any sort.

As the following article rightly identifies, façadism is the new go to ‘soft’ option for developers.

Frankly façadism is an absurdity. The character of the Heritage neighbourhood is simply lost to glass and steel. Natural light is blocked and in all honesty, what is left is often nothing short of comical. Quite simply, it is both inappropriate and a travesty to see some of the rather pathetic examples described as ’sympathetic design’. Market St South Melbourne is a good example. It has several ‘façades’ which are simply the front walls of previous buildings whereby visitors then enter an extensive courtyard gracing the entrance to multi storey glass towered apartment buildings.

The proposal for Eblana is simply the thin edge of the wedge. It cannot be permitted to proceed. Here is the recent article from the Age regarding the planning application, the objections of local residents and the National Trust to the proposed project and ‘façadism’.


Young and Jackson founder’s grand home the latest to get ‘facade’ treatment

Developers have lodged plans for the partial demolition of landmark East Melbourne mansion Eblana, built for Young and Jackson publican Thomas Jackson in 1883, to make way for an apartment tower.

At almost 42 metres, the tower would soar from behind the facade and front two rooms of the grand Italianate-style building at 140-142 Jolimont Road. The new building, home to four luxury apartments, would be almost three times the 15-metre recommended height limit for the precinct.

East Melbourne residents Greg Bisinella (centre). Nicole and Chris Pelchen, Sylvia Black and Diana Bosak outside Eblana.

Human Habitats director Will Pearce said the proposed development sought to protect the grandeur of the existing building’s frontage, while including a sympathetic design at the rear of the property.

But the application has been strongly opposed by local residents, representing the latest flashpoint in a long-running stoush between developers and heritage advocates to balance the preservation of character with new developments in historic precincts.

Eblana, the grand house built for Young and Jackson’s co-founder Thomas Jackson in 1883.

Prompted by a raft of developments in which the facade of buildings are retained in a nod to the original heritage – while the rear of the building is demolished for modern towers – the National Trust of Australia is now drafting guidelines for heritage-sensitive development across Victoria.

The trust’s Victorian director of advocacy, Felicity Watson, said “facadism” was a poor design outcome.

Some of the most egregious examples of the practice in Melbourne include the former Celtic Club Irish pub in Queen Street, the former Turf Club Hotel in North Melbourne, and the former Palace Theatre in Bourke Street, she said.

An artist’s impression of the proposed development at landmark East Melbourne mansion, Eblana.
The former Turf Club Hotel on Flemington Rd, North Melbourne.

“If you only retain the facade, or you only retain the external walls and a very small portion of the building, it removes all of the evidence of the building’s former function, its methods and materials of construction and also its ability to be understood within the streetscape,” Ms Watson said.

The National Trust says the former Celtic Club, on the corner of Queen Street and Lonsdale Street is an example of facadism being a poor design outcome.

Ms Watson said the proposed tower on Jolimont Road, East Melbourne, would dominate neighbouring buildings in its current form.

“East Melbourne is well known to have a very high number of significant 19th century buildings, and a number of very intact streetscapes and generally, we don’t want to see the erosion of that character of East Melbourne.”

By Sunday, 106 objections had been lodged with the City of Melbourne to the proposed development. A spokesman said council’s urban planners would carefully consider the application, and any development would be required to suit the area’s special local character and history.

Mr Pearce, whose company Human Habitats completed a town planning and urban context report for the City of Melbourne, said Eblana was not an “individually significant” building under current heritage guidelines.

“From a heritage response point of view, a superior outcome has been achieved than what the policy actually expects,” he said.

The role of town planning was to balance maintaining existing character and modernising the city, Mr Pearce said.

“There’s been considerable thought and effort put into the facade of the new building, and how that complements the existing heritage building on the site.”

The City of Melbourne introduced heritage policies last year, which have been approved by Planning Minister Richard Wynne, in an attempt to better protect the city’s historic buildings and precincts.

Councillor Rohan Leppert, who leads the heritage council’s portfolio, said the new guidelines – while not binding – made it clear that facadism would no longer be tolerated.

“The days of as-of-right facadism in the City of Melbourne are over,” Cr Leppert said.

“And new developments will take some time to adjust to that new reality. But we value heritage buildings in the round, in their three-dimensional form, and that’s the expectation the market will now need to adjust to.”

Greg Bisinella, who is the heritage and planning convener of the East Melbourne Group, said the proposed 42-metre development behind Eblana’s facade was disrespectful to the area’s heritage and locals were livid.

“It just sticks out like a sore thumb,” he said. “It is completely incongruent to the suburbs of Jolimont and East Melbourne.”

Mr Bisinella said retaining the building’s facade was not enough and that the internal building needed to be preserved.

“You lose the integrity of that building. It’s starting to chip away at one piece of living history, you are losing something that can’t be replaced,” he said.

Source: theage.com.au


For advice, assessment and reportage on Heritage architecture and prospective Heritage listing, please feel free to contact our principal Architect Andrew Fedorowicz on 0418 341 443 or leave your details here for a prompt reply.

Andrew is a Heritage Architect and a fellow of the Australian Institute of Architects with many years’ experience in Heritage Architecture, both public and private buildings.

Balance Architecture is passionate about Heritage Architecture, its preservation and restoration. Each year the base of our heritage ‘capital’ is continually eroded with attempts to bypass Heritage listings and the overall intent of heritage preservation. The time for this to stop is now. It requires a bi-partisan approach and cooperation between all relevant authorities – State Government, Local Government and a properly funded Heritage Council of Victoria.

The ground rules must be spelled out and understood by all – property owners, local government officials and developers alike. Heritage is precious – it’s our responsibility to ensure it’s here for future generations – not just a ‘façade’. It’s really up to each one of us to ensure its proper protection and to maintain the respect it deserves.

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

New Heritage Protection Laws. Ten year ban on developments for illegal demolition sites.

Whilst there has been much attention focused on the atrocious behaviour of the ‘Corkman Cowboys’ and their illegal demolition of Carlton’s 160 year old Corkman Hotel, the State Government has finally acted on preventing any further such travesties by introducing new legislation into Parliament this month.

Balance Architecture is passionate about the protection of Heritage buildings and Architecture in both Melbourne and throughout Victoria (Andrew Fedorowicz, Heritage Architect FAIA, Principal Architect for Balance Architecture is available for consultation on all matters pertaining to Heritage.)

There are two articles to follow. The first discusses the new legislation being passed in Victoria, the second gives an up to date account of what has happened to the Corkman developers, and an indication of what those who transgress Heritage Laws in Victoria can expect in the future.


Victorian Government plans to block property development if owners unlawfully demolish heritage buildings

The Corkman Irish Pub in the inner Melbourne suburb of Carlton was controversially torn down over a weekend in 2016

The Victorian Government will introduce legislation into Parliament today which could stop development on a property for up to a decade if heritage buildings are illegally demolished.

The legislation will cover buildings that have been unlawfully demolished in full or in part and where the owners have been charged with unlawful demolition.

Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne said the legislation targeted developers who did the wrong thing.

“These new laws remove the financial incentive to illegally demolish buildings by potentially stopping development of the land for up to 10 years,” he said.

“This means that they can no longer expect to reap windfall gains from just selling or rebuilding on their land.”

New laws partly prompted by Corkman demolition

Mr Wynne said the legislation was, in part, prompted by the unlawful demolition of the 160-year-old Corkman Irish Pub in Carlton in 2016.

The developers who demolished the Melbourne pub were jailed for a month and ordered to pay more than $400,000 in fines and legal costs.

The Corkman Pub, formerly known as the Carlton Inn Hotel, was built in 1858.

Although it was not on the Victorian Heritage Register, it was covered by heritage rules.

The developers are appealing a contempt of court conviction and sentence.

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) yesterday amended an enforcement order over the Corkman site to require a park to be built there by April 30.
‘Stringent protection’ for heritage buildings

Mr Wynne said the Corkman demolition was “unprecedented in planning in the state of Victoria” and strong action to protect heritage buildings was needed.

“We must put in place the most stringent protections possible and we are getting that through this legislation,” he said.

“It does not only deal with the Corkman matter but other attempts by people whose motives may not be essentially about ensuring the heritage protection of their buildings.”

He said there had also been issues around so-called “demolition by neglect”, where people were not willing or able to pay the cost of maintaining their heritage buildings.

The bill will also enable existing permits to be revoked and allow for new permits to be issued for specific purposes, such as building a park or reconstruction or repair of the heritage building.

These new provisions are a significant strengthening of the current enforcement regime and are expected to act as a powerful deterrent to the unlawful demolition of buildings of heritage significance.

The minister said the reform complemented measures the Government introduced in 2017, which made it an indictable offence for a builder or person managing building work to knowingly carry out works without a permit or in the contravention of the Building Act, the regulations or their permit.

Source: abc.net.au


Corkman Pub demolition developers jailed for contempt of court

The site remains a mess today, more than four years after the pub’s demolition.

Developers who demolished a historic Melbourne pub have been jailed for a month and ordered to pay more than $400,000 in fines and legal costs.

Raman Shaqiri and Stefce Kutlesovski illegally demolished the Corkman Irish Pub in Carlton in 2016, and were sentenced after being found guilty of contempt of court by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

The Melbourne City Council and State Government sought to have the men held in contempt for failing to comply with VCAT orders, which compelled them to clear the site so it could be transformed into a public park.

The men had previously pleaded guilty to breaching building and planning laws when they knocked down the 158-year-old pub.

For that, they were fined more than $1 million and also found themselves subject to legal action brought by the council and the Victorian Government.

At Wednesday’s VCAT hearing, the men were fined $150,000 and ordered to pay $250,000 in legal costs to the State Government and the council.

The Carlton Inn Hotel, on the corner of Pelham and Leicester streets, Carlton, in 1957. It was later known as the Corkman Irish Pub.

The men’s lawyer, Matthew Franke, said his clients were “extremely surprised” by the sentence and would seek leave to lodge an appeal.

“The company and its directors are surprised and disappointed by the Tribunal’s findings, particularly in circumstances where the prosecutors in this case did not seek a term of imprisonment, and stated in written submissions that the imposition of such a sentence would be ‘manifestly excessive’,” he said in a statement.
‘They have trashed Victoria’s heritage’

The State Government had originally wanted the developers to rebuild the Corkman, but that plan hit a snag when an enforcement order to do so was deemed “not legally sound”.

The Corkman Pub, formerly known as the Carlton Inn Hotel, was built in 1858. Although it was not on the Victorian Heritage Register, it was covered by heritage rules.

It was demolished over a weekend in 2016, a week after a fire was lit inside the building.

Planning Minister Richard Wynne said the developer “deserved this outcome”.

“They have trashed Victoria’s heritage, refused to build a park, and shirked their legal obligations at every step,” he said.

The Corkman Irish Pub, in the inner-Melbourne suburb of Carlton, was knocked down in October 2016.

Opposition planning spokesman Tim Smith also backed the VCAT sentence and called on the State Government to seize control of the property.

“The Andrews Labor Government must compulsorily acquire this site and turn it into social housing, public housing, or a permanent park so these cowboy developers don’t make a cent from their illegal activity,” he said.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the council and Government pursued the developer “in the public interest”.

“Today’s decision vindicates the court’s authority and sends a clear message that we won’t tolerate developers disobeying a court order,” she said.

“We look forward to seeing the site cleaned up and available for the public to enjoy.”

Source: abc.net.au


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

Balance Architecture – For expert advice, planning and delivery on all Residential Heritage Architecture

With current Real Estate clearances at an all-time high in Melbourne and Rural Victoria, many buyers are purchasing property that carries a Heritage listing or is a part of a Heritage Overlay. This can be a complicating factor and definitely requires expert advice and direction. Balance Architecture offer qualified and experienced support to buyers purchasing Residential Heritage listed properties throughout Melbourne and regional Victoria.

As a Residential Heritage Architectural firm, Balance Architecture offers a steady hand and sensible programming of any and all renovations and refurbishments of Heritage homes. Georgian, Victorian, Federation or Mid Century Modern – Balance and its principal Architect, Andrew Fedorowicz, offer practical sound planning as well as bringing real excitement and flair to the recovery of the true Heritage identity of your valuable new property.

Today, it really is the merging of modern living, the space and comfort that is required with many properties often constructed well over a century ago, still retaining much of the older infrastructure and internals.

Balance Architecture will ensure the essential and required heritage features are retained, refurbished or replaced, faithfully adhering to the fittings, materials and building methodologies prescribed by Heritage authorities. At the same time, issues such as electricals, plumbing and painted surfaces will be addressed. What was acceptable 50 to100 years ago is not necessarily so today! Lead paint, antiquated electricals and lighting, creaky old iron pipes and ineffective drainage and sewerage must be replaced with modern functional infrastructure.

Ultimately, it is a combination of livability and maintaining the classic beauty of a gorgeous older building to the levels of appearance and quality as required by Heritage Victoria. It is no simple task and for that reason it’s imperative to seek and avail yourself of expert advice and experience.

Andrew Fedorowicz, Principal Architect for Balance Architecture, is a fellow of the Australian Institute of Architects. Andrew is a highly experienced Architect with over 30 years in Architectural Design and construction, its administration and ancillary drafting. Clearly Andrew represents the upper echelon of his profession, having won numerous awards and having personally managed and supervised over 320 high level projects.

It may be that you have purchased a Heritage property in regional Victoria – Ballarat, Bendigo, Daylesford, Kyneton, Mt Macedon – or the Dandenong Ranges or Gippsland. Alternatively, you’ve been fortunate enough to purchase in Greater Melbourne– Kew, Hawthorn, South Yarra, Clifton Hill, Ivanhoe, Eaglemont or Heidelberg to name just a few areas where both Heritage listed homes and suburban Heritage overlays exist.

Make the decision now – engage a Heritage Architect, call Balance Architecture now on 0418 341 443 and arrange a free no-obligation consultation. Meet directly with Andrew and start the process of re-developing your home to its real potential and true heritage. Alternatively, simply leave your details here for a prompt reply and scheduled meeting.

Balance Architecture and Interior Design

Luxury, Comfort and Style. Heritage Values, Heritage Design.

Heritage History in Essendon – North Park Mansion – Under Threat

North Park is an extraordinary example of an early Melbourne mansion, a grand property that to this day remains in relatively pristine heritage condition. For those amongst you who may have missed our original posted blog on the property back in April of 2018, we reprint it here…

North Park Mansion is built upon ‘the highest point in Essendon’. The land was purchased in 1887 by Mr Alexander McCracken for the sum of 5000 pounds. Architects Oakden, Addison and Kemp designed the house for Mr McCracken, and Mr D Sinclair built the rather grand home, described as being in the Queen Anne revival style.

Alexander McCracken was described as ‘a brewer and a sportsman’. He had joined the family brewery firm ‘McCrackens’ as a junior partner in 1884.

The crash of the 1890s all but destroyed the company. It did however keep trading, avoiding liquidation. In May 1907 McCrackens and five other brewing firms became a merged company – known as Carlton and United Breweries. Alexander McCracken was made a director.

McCracken was the genial spokesman for the brewing industry from early in his career in 1891 through until his death in 1915. The irony? He died from cirrhosis of the liver.

During his lifetime he was President of the Essendon Football Club and then the first President of the Victorian Football League. He raced horses with some success and indulged in a myriad of other activities in the region of Essendon – all manner of sports, debating and a keen interest in poultry, pigeons and canaries.

In 1915, his widow sold off the remaining North Park Estate lands – only the Mansion and six acres remained. The Mansion was first sold to Mr Harvey Patterson, a BHP executive. In turn Mr Patterson on sold it to its current owners – the Columban Order – a Catholic Church Missionary Order.

The house is built utilising Red Northcote Bricks, Sandstone from Waurn Ponds (near Geelong), Basalt from Malmsbury and roofing tiles imported from Marseilles in France.

As previously mentioned this rather elaborate home was constructed in a Queen Anne Revival Style – red bricks for the walls and timbering with rough cast in the gables, orange terracotta tiles, ornamental barge boards, decorative finials and chimneys and ornate glazing.

It was in fact a riot of architectural styles, a combination of Scottish Baronial, French, Victorian and Tudor. Or perhaps ‘Tudor with modifications’. By all accounts it was truly the home of a big spending, articulate brewer – Alexander McCracken. A spacious ballroom, since converted to be a chapel, was added in the early 20th Century. The Columban Order added a new wing in 1966 and an office building replaced the original stables in 1968. The Coach House is substantially retained. And stranger than fiction – from 1923 onwards, it has been a virtual monastery. The building was added to the Victorian Heritage Register in 1997 – for both the building and its ‘gardenesque style’.

“The former North Park is architecturally important in demonstrating a high degree of creative achievement, being a pioneering example of the Queen Anne Revival domestic architecture in Australia. This style became the dominant expression in Australian domestic architecture in the decades immediately before and after 1900. The house is architecturally important for its use of imported Marseilles terracotta roof tiles in possibly their first application in Australia. Made by the French company, Guichard Carvin de Cie, St Andr, these unique tiles feature the firm’s signature bee imprint. The interior is architecturally important for its rich decoration including multi-coloured pressed metal ceilings, plaster friezes, timber panelling, encaustic tiling and elaborate stained and coloured glass. Other important extant detail includes ornate door knobs and push plates, and gas light hardware. Three ornately carved chairs in the entrance hall dating from the McCracken ownership are important for their continued association with the house.”

“The grounds of North Park are of aesthetic importance as an outstanding example of the gardenesque style and for the unusual three curved terraces, wide drive, garden path remains, and the evergreen trees and large conifers which contribute to the picturesque profile of the overall composition. The circular fish pond (disused) with its central figurine fountain and random rubble base is of unusual design and an important garden element now uncommon in Victoria. The location of this structure opposite the ballroom bay window is an important design feature. The cast iron gates, fence and hand gate supported by dressed bluestone are of an outstanding design, with particularly large spears and large scale iron members. The coach house and gardener’s shed are important contributions to the interpretation of a late nineteenth century large house and garden.” source: vhd.heritage.vic.gov.au

Source: https://balancearchitecture.wordpress.com/2018/04/30/grand-old-mansions-of-essendon-recycled-as-religious-headquarters-and-girls-grammar-schools/

‘North Park’ is an extremely interesting ornate building with cast iron features, ornate stone and brickwork and lavish stained glass windows. It has remained remarkably intact since the Columban Order purchased the property in 1923.

The grounds are particularly unique and herein lies the major problem. The Columban Order has seemingly been given some misinformed advice. Their quest to build 25 townhouses on part of the gardens is at odds with the Victorian Heritage Council’s assessment of the grounds and the gardens.

The estate grounds retain much of its original form, with a sweeping drive from the front gates on Woodland Street and the front of the house overlooking three curved terraces which are symmetrical about a central axis with the main towered entrance. The planting is a fine example of the Gardenesque style developed by John Claudius Loudon (1783 – 1843) in the early Nineteenth Century to display plants for their individual beauty. The grounds contain many mature trees which were planted when “North Park” was first constructed including; a pair of Himalayan Cedars, cypress trees, palm trees (almost as tall as the house itself) and a huge Moreton Bay Fig. All are surrounded by beds full of perennials which border a number of terraced lawns.

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/40262251@N03/6115422905/

The Property is now under threat. From The Age dated August 25th…

Catholic mission faces fight over plan to ‘carve up’ Essendon mansion

A residents’ group is opposing a Catholic mission’s multimillion-dollar plan to sell off its 19th century Essendon mansion and build a home for old priests in the grounds.

The St Columban’s Mission Society has applied to Heritage Victoria and Moonee Valley Council for permits to subdivide the grounds of North Park mansion.

Michael Whelan, Romy Pane and Gena O’Keeffe are a part of a group who oppose plans to sell North Park.

Proceeds from the sale of the heritage-listed 132-year-old mansion and most of its grounds will fund a $10 million office and apartments for Catholic priests.

The society plans to sell 90 per cent of the 20,000-square metre property, including the mansion.

It is seeking planning approval for 25 townhouses on some of that land.

On the 2000 square metres the society will retain, it plans to build a three-storey building to house its offices, and 16 apartments for elderly priests to live in.

Sale of the mansion and grounds could raise as much as $18 million.

The society’s regional bursar Michael Mooney said more than $10 million of the (estimated before the COVID-19 pandemic) $18 million proceeds of the mansion and land sales would fund construction of the new office and apartment building for priests.

The remainder would go towards the society’s work with disadvantaged people in 15 countries including Peru, Myanmar and the Philippines.

But a local residents’ group, Save North Park, objects to the site being ”carved up” and wants governments to buy the site for community use.

Spokesman Michael Whelan said it could be a cultural hub like Abbotsford Convent.

He called on the community “to rally as one and object to the proposed plans and for the community to have an active role in the future of this property”.

A Saint Columbans Mission Property Association report, which is part of the application to the council, described the mansion as “not suitable for Columbans in retirement”.

The priests’ current mansion rooms were “boarding house style” with single bedrooms, not all with ensuite, and meals taken in a common dining area.

However each flat in the new building would have two bedrooms, a bathroom, living area, and kitchen.

They would enable residents to entertain and have family over.

“This has become the norm elsewhere, for example, for retiring Catholic priests,” the report says.

The Save North Park group, however, proposes either a reduction in what it calls “excessive development” of the site, or “ideally for the entire site to be purchased by government to make it a place for all to enjoy”.

“We do not want to see this valuable asset carved up, obscured and diminished,” the group said in a statement.

The group opposes the proposed removal of 97 trees, which sustain animals such as possums, bats and magpies.

The mansion, built in 1888 for brewer and inaugural VFL president Alexander McCracken, has been owned by the St Columbans order since 1923.

The Victorian Heritage Register listing describes a “large, two-storey, picturesque residence” in the Queen Anne Revival style, set on Essendon’s highest point.

Members of the public can make submissions to Moonee Valley council [LINNK: https://mvcc.vic.gov.au/my-council/major-developments/45-69-woodland-street/%5D, however a date has not been set for deliberation on the matter.

Source: https://www.smh.com.au/national/victoria/catholic-mission-faces-fight-over-plan-to-carve-up-essendon-mansion-20200824-p55orz.html

The property must remain intact and complete. For its north western location, it’s right up there with some of Melbourne’s other grand old mansions such as Werribee Park and Banyule House – It’s an intricate piece of the city’s Architectural history and as such must be preserved.

For this reason, Balance Architecture supports the ‘Save North Park’ Group and will strive to assist them in their endeavours to preserve the full property as an intact entity

There have been numerous occasions over the last 120 years where Church bodies have simply destroyed beautiful heritage homes without consequence. In recent years, the St Vincent’s Orphanage development in South Melbourne and the St Vincent’s Hospital Development project in Fitzroy are two prime examples of this.

In this case, with the North Park Mansion to be sold, it would seem that with the financial return envisaged, there is little or no reason the 25 planned townhouses could not be built elsewhere to accommodate the needs of the priests.

The Heritage Listing is quite clear so it would appear most unlikely that the proposed development of a 3 storey impediment to the panoramic view of Melbourne’s skyline and the inherent destruction of the ‘Gardenesque’ grounds admired in the listing have any chance of successfully being challenged by the Colomban Society for a waiver of the Heritage Listing or its intent.

But stay tuned for further updates. This will likely be a battle, unless common sense prevails. No doubt the building will appeal to many possible suitors. However, will they respect the heritage? It’s a difficult situation.

(Footnote: The author’s father restored the gardens at North Park in the late 1950s and early 1960s)

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

Save these Heritage Treasures in Albert Park and North Balwyn

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It’s been some time since we have discussed some of the ongoing Heritage disputes here in Victoria. What’s entirely disappointing is the return of several development battles we considered safe. Not the case – we are up for round two and the first of these is in Albert Park.

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Previous rejected design for 1 Victoria Ave

No. 1 Victoria Avenue Albert Park. Last year the Developers – the Saade Group, were defeated at a VCAT hearing on their plans to demolish the existing building and replace it with what could only be described as an oversized ‘Birthday Cake’ of a building. The plan for the new building was rejected at VCAT as entirely inappropriate for the location given that it is an important component of the existing Heritage Overlay.

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New proposed design for 1 Victoria Ave

Read about last years battle and victory here…

The developers have submitted a new design to Council and are seeking to demolish the existing original building and replace it with something equally and as oddly out of context with the areas Heritage overlay as the previous proposed ‘development’ but one storey lower in height . The new design is in no way in sympathy with the existing streetscape or heritage vista.This proposed building is literally just over one block from St Vincents Place and the St Vincents Gardens!

The second property at risk is a significant Robin Boyd designed house in North Balwyn. The agent’s advertising pitch offers ‘vacant land’ for those purchasing the property.

Here is a recent report from ArchitectureAU…

Significant Robin Boyd house at risk of demolition

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A house designed by Robin Boyd in Melbourne’s eastern suburb of North Balwyn is at risk of demolition after the property was listed for sale and described as an opportunity to buy “vacant land” by the estate agent Fletchers.

A petition initiated by Melbourne academic and practitioner Jacqui Alexander calls on Boroondara Council to heritage protect the home and prevent it from demolition.

“It is a tragedy that this important example of post-war Australian modernism looks likely to succumb to the same fate as many other significant homes in Boroondara,” Alexander said in the petition.

“Architecturally significant homes from this era are being razed in Eastern suburbs like Balwyn at an alarming rate, only to be replaced with mass-produced and over-scaled mock-heritage mansions with no architectural or contextual value. These new developments come at the expense of our architectural heritage, the character of our streetscapes and the biodiversity of Melbourne’s leafy suburbs.”

A 2015 heritage study of Balwyn and North Balwyn prepared for the council identified the house as “a significant place in the City of Boorandara.”

The house was originally designed for pharmacist Don Woods and built in 1949 and is situated cross two lots at 12–14 Tannock Street.

It is one of the few remaining examples of Boyd’s early work as a sole practitioner prior to his partnership with Roy Grounds and Frederick Romberg. It is also one of three examples in the area that “provide rare and valuable evidence of the innovation, boldness and fresh design approaches of a young architect on the cusp of an illustrious career.”

Published in Australian Home Beautiful in October 1950, it was celebrated for its split level planning and its small footprint that “takes full advantage of space and outlook.” The Woods commission Boyd to extend the house twice, first in 1959 with two more bedrooms, a recreation room and a flat-roofed garage, and again 1971 with an addition across the street frontage. Both additions created seamless transitions between the old and the new.

When it was first sold in 1985, it was labelled as “timeless,” and “an outstanding work of contemporary design” by the estate agent.

The petition, on Change.org, has had more than 5610 signatures at the time of publication.

Source: architectureau.com

The property is in the area of Boroondara Council. The council (along with Bayside Council) has an appalling record in the preservation of Heritage properties within its boundaries.

This is a prime example of the neglect of Heritage listings by Local Government officials. It is their responsibility to ensure that Heritage Listings and overlays are both accurate and up to date. It’s otherwise way too easy to apply for a demolition permit which can be actioned whilst the Heritage Council of Victoria, which is under-financed and also understaffed considers the merit of the proposed Heritage overlay or listing.

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Yarrawonga Town Hall

Currently we are investigating a curious case in Yarrawonga. There the local shire is looking to place an ultra-modern designed library building next to a rather unique Art Deco design Yarrawonga Town Hall. In doing so it will destroy the local community centre but perhaps it will be sadder to see such a beautiful old building juxtaposed with against an ultra-modern design. More to come in the next few weeks.

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For the Albert Park property – 1 Victoria Ave, you can lodge an objection with the Port Phillip Council planning division. Here’s a link to the Don’t Destroy Albert Park website.

For the Robin Boyd Petition please go to change.org/p/b-save-robin-boyd-s-tannock-st-house and add your signature.

Balance Architecture stridently believes in the full protection of our Architectural and historical Heritage and encourages all our followers and readers to make your thoughts known to those who would destroy it.

Heritage is more than our past – it’s who we really are.

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

Update of the Botanical Gardens of Ballarat’s new Fernery.

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Work on the Ballarat Botanical Gardens Heritage Fernery is now well underway. This time we feature some of the more up to date and finalised drawings for your interest. Yes, this will be in fact the entrance to the overall Fernery precinct in the gardens. When complete with Stage 2, the curators of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens will be furnishing the growing space and habitat with exotic ferns from around the world as well as the more familiar native species and epiphytes such as Birdsnest, Staghorn and Elkhorn ferns.

The Fernery will add an immensely exciting visage to these popular gardens. The new design from Andrew Fedorowicz of Balance Architecture, is faithful to the original Fernery design providing a beautiful heritage perspective, in keeping with its surrounds and those of old Ballarat town.

The ‘New’ Fernery is a reproduction of the older original fernery that was so much a part of the older Ballarat Gardens of the 19th Century. It is faithful in its homage to the Gothic lines and stunning vista of the older fernery and has been designed with the cooperation and assistance of the Heritage Council of Victoria.

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The new Fernery Design is in keeping with the original fernery and its heritage values.

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

The Ballarat Botanical Gardens Fernery – Construction commences

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Balance Architecture is pleased to announce the commencement of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens Fernery project. First designed and submitted for approval back in 2018 and 2019, the project is now underway – constructed specifically to the drawing and plans of Balance Architecture and its principal Architect Mr Andrew Fedorowicz (FAIA).

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Here’s a previous report to refresh your memories as to the unique nature of this exciting project.

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.

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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.]

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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 still 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 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.

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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 forebears 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 soon will be again.

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Source: Balance Architecture

At the moment we are investigating the current status of Number One, Victoria Avenue, Albert Park. Both the National Trust and Port Phillip Council recognise the heritage significance of this building. The Developers who own the property have submitted a further plan to demolish and erect a new building. The Save Albert Park Committee, a residents group, is again fighting this move. Last year the group was successful in VCAT in having the site preserved. This is a very important battle, and we will keep you informed with further updates over the next few weeks.

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

Stay the “****” at Home!

Plan for the Future with Balance Architecture.

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With the lockdown restrictions now spreading to rural Victoria, many more people will be spending a lot more time at home. Out of adversity comes opportunity. Why not use the time wisely and prepare a plan to re-develop your home, to create the space you desire and need, and to reshape the basics in your living areas to meet the demands of modern living.

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For many this is the ideal time to consult with an architect. Discover the art of the possible. Make sure you have covered all the contingencies. This is doubly important if you live in a property that is heritage listed or part of an area covered by a heritage overlay.

It’s entirely appropriate to seek a highly experienced and qualified architect, one with a successful track record in both large scale heritage renovations as well as modern makeovers that harmonise with the architecture of the past.

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Andrew Fedorowicz is one such Architect. Andrew is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Architects. He is innovative, practical and makes brilliant use of space. Today, the demand is to extend your living areas outwards into external entertainment areas – outdoor kitchens, dining areas, yet with the ability to close off the bifold doors and maintain an even temperature within. Solar power, water reticulation, data systems – it’s the art of the possible.

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But at the same time, it’s also possible to restore that ironwork, the decorative tiling, the corinthian arches, the decorative plaster mouldings, the slate roofs and much more. Restore the verandahs, add stained glass to add authenticity.

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Create a beautiful garden and interior to match the architecture. But most important, do it with a professional plan; proper architectural drawings, appropriate permits and a costed budget.

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Call Andrew Fedorowicz now. Arrange for a Zoom, Skype, Messenger or Whatsapp meeting – or if permitted a site meeting and inspection.

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Call now on 0418 341 443 or alternatively 03 8696 9700 during business hours (mention Balance Architecture please). You can leave your contact details here if you prefer and you will receive a prompt reply to your enquiry.

Balance Architecture – the very best in Architecture and Interior Design