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 difference in heritage values Cultural Vs Architectural sees the end of Melbourne’s Iconic Metro.

Originally a theatre, now known as the Metro Nightclub, the building was constructed in 1911 replacing the original ‘Queen’s Hall’ attached to the Hotel Douglas.

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To refresh your memories or to provide the basis for discussion, here is a reprint of our blog dated Sept 27th 2017.

The Palace Theatre Melbourne – perhaps you remember it as the Metro Nightclub. Demolition of this well known Melbourne icon was approved in 2016 at VCAT. The interior was illegally demolished without permits in 2014. It is now owned by the Jinshan Investment Group. The group planned to build a 30 storey W Hotel on the site but are now restricted to a 7 storey site after the intervention of the City of Melbourne. Located at 20-30 Bourke St, the venue has a long history in the Entertainment Industry. As it stands, it is slated for demolition at any time.

The Palace Theatre is somewhat of an enigma. Its scenario is not that dissimilar to the Corkman Hotel of Carlton illegally destroyed by developers recently. The building is in fact a large, high roofed theatre. What was significant about it were its internal fittings. In 2014 a contracted demolition company removed the ornate plaster features, facades and balcony decorations, rendering the interior somewhat featureless and undermining any claims of heritage value. One could consider it a ‘tactic’ to enable a party to proceed with a demolition that might otherwise be opposed.

It this case, the venue represents a very valid principle in both planning and preservation. In the view of many – including the City of Melbourne’s representatives, it should be incumbent on the properties owners – Jinshan Investment Group – to restore the interior to its previous state.

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Originally the site was occupied from the late 1850s by the Excelsior Hotel. Hotels at the time were close relations to the Theatre and Theatre companies of the time. The Excelsior had a ‘hall’ attached known as ‘Queen’s Hall’. Vaudeville, boxing and wrestling events were staged there regularly. Name changes occurred in 1875 (Stutt’s Hotel) and 1900 (Hotel Douglas). The hotel was destroyed by fire in 1911 and the land was sold for 32,000 pounds.

In 1911, a new theatre was commissioned by the new owners, to occupy the site. Queensland Architects Eaton and Bates in association with Melbourne Architect Naham Barnet were tasked with designing the new theatre. It featured seating on 3 levels with a large proscenium and very grand ‘curtains of gold’. The theatre incorporated a hotel, the Pastorial, with bedrooms on the first floor.

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The theatre was modified in 1916 with a complete refitting of the lobby and auditorium under the instruction of Architect Henry E White. This involved the addition of ornate plaster mouldings decorating the theatre in a style recognised as ‘Louis Seize’.

Further additions to the decorative style occurred in 1923 when the theatre auditorium was extensively remodelled , retaining the Louis Seize style yet overlaying it with a further Adamesque decoration. Upon completion it reopened as the ‘New Palace’.

In 1934 a further new renovation occurred and the theatre became known as the Apollo. It was renamed again in 1940 – The St James Theatre. 1951 saw it renamed ‘The St James Theatre and Metro’. Now an MGM theatre it became a cinema and showed films exclusively from that studio.

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The street frontage and facade was remodelled in an Art Deco style – designed by a H Vivian Taylor, and to this day the design remains. The Proscenium and side boxes were removed to allow for the installation of a ‘CinemaScope’ screen.

In 1971 it reverted to live theatre with the production ‘Hair’ running for 39 weeks. By 1974 it had reverted to its original name and was a working Cinema – again. 1980-1987 saw it as a Christian Revival Centre run by the Pentecostal Church.

A major refurbishment was undertaken in 1987 by Melbourne Architects ‘Biltmoderne’. From then on it was known as the Metro Nightclub. The Nightclub was sold in 2007. The new owners were the former owners of the Palace live music venue in St Kilda.

They renamed the venue ‘The Palace’. Holding 1850 people, the venue hosted many well known touring groups and musicians over the next 7 years. It was sold to the Chinese Development Group Jinshan in late 2012.

In 2016 opponents to the demolition of the venue finally lost the fight and VCAT ruled that the Demolition should proceed and the redevelopment works go ahead.

Excerpts from Wikipedia

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This is a rather interesting case study. From an architectural viewpoint, much of the original charm of the foyer and auditorium were removed over the years but the very ornate plasterwork remained up until 2014. Additions made in 1987 including stainless steel staircases and galleries could easily have been reverted.

Its claim for heritage value was not on architectural grounds but on cultural grounds. The Bourke St Precinct has strict heritage overlays yet the Developer was prepared to challenge these, even in view of the Windsor result and the location of the Victorian Parliament, with a 30 storey tower – until challenged by Council as to its height.

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According to Professor Graeme Davidson, the Heritage listing (not ratified) for cultural importance was and is well justified.

“This is likely the last surviving expressly built Vaudeville Theatre (Variety Show) in Melbourne.”

The destruction is breathtaking when considering the ‘before’ and ‘after’ shots. In our view this is a glaring example of manipulation of regulations by third parties to gain an outcome that provides little recognition of heritage values. Under the Bourke Hill precinct overlay, the theatre’s internal fitout was protected as was the building’s facade. When the theatre was gutted and the interior demolished – no authority intervened.

Heritage is often more than just the value of the individual aspects of a building. It is the sum total of the history, the usage, the architecture and the decorations of a building. And as with the Corkman in Carlton and the Greyhound Hotel in St Kilda, this time VCAT, you got it wrong.

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What’s your opinion? Should the developers be forced to restore unauthorised demolitions? As it stands we have precious little left to preserve.

Its time Council started to respond and intervene when required. Our city has great character and we must do whatever it takes to retain what is quintessentially Melbourne.

Source: Balance Architecture

So in this instance the application for Heritage Listing was based entirely on the Cultural Heritage of the venue, but as can be seen, the history of the venue is much older and far more impressive that just the cultural heritage. It would appear that under Heritage Victoria’s direction Art Deco is not valued, unless it is specifically mentioned in the Heritage application. Surely the umpire should have stepped in here!

Take a look at the architectural mouldings, the plasterwork, the murals – simply irreplaceable!

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Melbourne’s old vaudeville theatres have all but disappeared. The Tivoli, the Theatre Royal, Sol De Val, the Gaiety and St George’s Hall to name but a few. Bourke St East was the heart of theatre and vaudeville in old Melbourne town. Sadly it’s now lost.

From The Age…

‘Morally outrageous’: After 108 years, demolition of The Metro begins

Demolition of one of Melbourne’s best-loved music venues, The Palace Theatre on Bourke Street, began this week, ending a seven-year public battle to save the venue.

The 108-year old theatre, venue of The Metro nightclub for over 20 years from 1987 as well as a live music hall, played host to artists including James Brown, The Prodigy, Slash, Jane’s Addiction, Arctic Monkeys and Queens of the Stone Age until its doors shut in 2014.

 

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Demolition of the Palace Theatre in Melbourne commenced this week.

 

With the site to be converted into a Marriott hotel after years of conjecture, councillors and music industry figures have lamented the demolition as an indictment on Victoria’s heritage laws, which they say fail to properly recognise the cultural value of the state’s venues.The Palace was sold in 2012 to Chinese developer Jinshan Investment Group for $11.2 million.

Melbourne City Council approved plans to build a hotel in 2013, which objectors unsuccessfully opposed in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal in 2016, however the site was dormant until the roof was removed in the past fortnight.

Known for its marble staircase and sweeping viewing balconies, photos emerged this week of excavator trucks in the venue, the stage area in rubble and a hole in the roof where a chandelier once hung.

 

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The Metro Nightclub at midnight in January 1992

 

Melbourne City councillor Rohan Leppert, who leads the council’s heritage division, said the 3000-capacity Palace was not previously granted heritage status because renovations had created a “mish-mash of architectural eras”.

“Even though the demolition that’s happening inside the theatre is perfectly legal, it’s still morally outrageous,” Cr Leppert said.

“Our heritage regime still rewards architectural purity above everything else, but the thing that makes The Palace special is the social history of the place, which is so extraordinary. I hope we are never in a situation like this again.”

 

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The Metro nightclub in its heyday

 

Music Victoria chief executive Patrick Donovan said The Palace closure left a “massive gap” in Melbourne for a medium-sized venue with a late-night licence.

“It was an absolutely pivotal venue in the Melbourne music scene,” he said.

“It was a popular weekly alternative music nightclub called Goo for university students, then they had live music shows up to five days a week. I really do believe our heritage laws need a good look at.”

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Heavy heart: You Am I’s Tim Rogers performs at The Metro in 1996

 

The Palace was also used as a cinema, Pentecostal church venue and theatre in its 108-year history. It’s understood the developers will be required to retain its historic facade.

 

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The Palace Theatre is being demolished

 

Mr Donovan said cities such as Vancouver and Toronto in Canada recognised cultural value more than Victoria and said The Palace should be used as a cautionary tale to protect venues such as St Kilda’s The Esplanade and Festival Hall, which survived an initial push for demolition in 2018.

“We don’t need any more apartments in this city, but we do need venues like the Espy and the Palace.”

Rebecca Leslie, spokeswoman for the Save the Palace campaign that has fought the development since 2013, said the demolition’s timing had taken the group by surprise.

“The experience of attending a live band there was incredible. No matter where you stood, you got the most incredible view, with this beautiful 100-year-old building, with all the pictures and fittings around it still intact.”

Source: theage.com.au

It is accepted that many of these buildings (the theatres) would not have lasted until today in terms of Construction, however The Metro had done so until 2012 and put simply the venue was unique.

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As we said before, now we have a 7 storey hotel with 143 rooms, a gym, a swimming pool and a restaurant.

C’est la vie.

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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 – Heritage Listed – An Extraordinary Project

In Melbourne nothing stimulates discussion on the relative merit of the architecture of new landmark sites as does the mention of Federation Square or Southern Cross Station. People either love them or hate them.

In the case of Federation Square we are definitely admirers… Let me give you our reasons.

Over the last 200 years the site has had a range of somewhat unpleasant uses. It hosted the City Morgue and the trains that transported the dead to the Kew Cemetery, the original Fish Market, Corporate offices of the most unsightly building that ever graced Melbourne and massive Railway Yards, rolling stock and workshops, an atmosphere of dust, metal noise, smoke exhaust and oil.

With many planners keen to link the Melbourne CBD with its river the Yarra, these plans were always undermined by the conundrum of what to do with the then required extensive and extremely busy Railway yards and facilities.

Perhaps one of the biggest bug-bears was the ridiculous situation where the incredibly ugly Gas and Fuel Towers blocked the view of one of Melbourne’s most iconic and beautiful buildings – St Paul’s Cathedral.

The Gas and Fuel Corporation Towers were somewhat representative of the times in which their construction occurred – 1967. Brown brick, aluminium windows, a pale green and brown monstrosity, commissioned and built over what was originally the Princes Bridge Station and Rail Yards on the South side of Flinders St. What a contradiction it was to the surrounding cityscape.

St Paul’s, Flinders St Station, Young and Jacksons Hotel, the Forum Theatre – all delightful and interesting buildings, constructed to be somewhat timeless – and the Gas and Fuel Building – plonked like a huge hideous misshapen Lego block. When it was finally demolished in 1997 it was to make way for Federation Square and Birrarung Marr, an extensive, beautiful addition to Melbourne’s parkland.

The Railways had occupied the land since 1859, and over the years it became the driving hub for the Melbourne Electrified Railway System.

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Prior to this for thousands of years the site had been the meeting place for indigenous tribes of the Kulin Confederacy. The Wathaurung, the Bunarong and the Woiworung peoples occupied the surrounding lands to the North, South and East with the swamps and salt marshes West to the Marybnong River and beyond being considered communal hunting grounds. Tribal people still camped on the Yarra banks, both sides, stretching from this area down to the MCG and Government House during the early years of European settlement.

Federation Square and its development leading up to the Centenary of Federation in 2001 gave rise to a perfect opportunity to celebrate the ideas of ‘identity’ and ‘place’ in providing a much needed civic and cultural space.

The Victorian Government had commissioned the architecture to Lab Architecture Studio, a firm based in London and Melbourne firm Bates Smart with whom they formed a partnership. Lab Architecture had originally been one of five finalists in the Victorian Government two stage design competition commenced in 1996. The partnership with Bates Smart, a premier Melbourne Architecture firm was required to proceed to the second stage and the consortium was awarded the contract for the design of the new area..

The Fractal Facade is an extraordinary feature. “Three cladding materials: sandstone, zinc (perforated and solid) and glass have been used in a circular pinwheel grid. This modular system uses five single triangles (all of the same size and proportion) to make up a larger triangular panel. Following the same geometrical logic, five panels are joined together to create a large triangular ‘mega panel’ which is then mounted onto the structural frame to form the visible facade.” [from http://www.fedsquare.com]

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For the public the controversy was fanned by ‘shock jock’ radio personalities and tabloid journalists who simply ‘didn’t get it’. The criticism went so far as to see the Glass Shards planned for the North Western corner removed from the plan and the finished result. It was claimed the Government did this to appease critics who believed it would again block the vista of St Paul’s Cathedral however many believe it was an unnecessary political intervention to ameliorate ongoing criticism from more conservative voices in the community.

It is now recognised as an extraordinary contemporary work lauded and praised internationally as changing the overall look of the Melbourne CBD and its entrance. The public have adopted it and its features with enthusiasm and it plays a huge role in Melbourne’s Cultural and Civic Events.

As well, as of 2019, Federation Square enjoys Heritage Protection, having been listed as a Heritage site by the Heritage Council of Victoria. This process was hastened by an ill-advised attempt by both the management of Federation Square and the State Government to demolish part of it and replace it with an Apple Store. With objections from the National Trust, the City of Melbourne, and one of the original architects, the modification was rejected and the square remains intact. Currently the South East corner is off-limits whilst the new Melbourne Underground is constructed.

This in no way encroaches on the visitors experience as most of the works are occurring beneath the ground.

Federation Square is well worth a visit. It provides a gateway to the Melbourne CBD and is an eclectic creation that offers a wide range of activities. From Bars and Cinemas, restaurants and expansive outdoor spaces, it is truly magnificent.

And everyday thousands of Melbournians commute on trains to and from the city beneath the structure. The cinemas, galleries, radio and television studios barely experience a vibration. It is in fact one of the largest expanses of railway decking ever built in Australia taking twelve months to complete.

Next week we revisit Melbourne’s latest Heritage battle – from Sandringham to Black Rock where the wonderful modernist homes of the 1950s and 1960s are under real threat. Already homes built and designed by Robyn Boyd and his contemporaries have succumbed to demolition. The latest challenge is a property located at 372 Beach Rd Beaumaris. The developers have applied to build two new dwellings on the site. Stay tuned.

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Balance Architecture recognises the importance 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.

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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.”

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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.

Source: theage.com.au

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

Source: theage.com.au

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.

Daylesford – The Enigma of Gold, Culture and the Healing Waters

This week we repeat our earlier blog from March 22nd 2018. It features the delightful Victorian town of Daylesford and its neighbour Hepburn Springs. Take the time to drive up to this delightful location – about an hour of driving – during the break. Swimming is available at both Daylesford Lake and Jubilee Lake. We will resume our regular blogs later this week.

A favourite destination for many is the town of Daylesford, about 100km west of Melbourne. Gold was discovered on Wombat Flats, now deep below Daylesford Lake, in 1852. These alluvial deposits were the forerunner to deep quartz mining, which continued until the 1930s. Gold – the foundation of another heritage town, in this case providing the bounty that built the magnificent buildings of Daylesford and Hepburn Springs.

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Daylesford these days is better known as the Spa capital of Australia. It has long been renowned as a place to ‘take the waters’ and now features the Hepburn Spa complex and walking trails with many springs to sample the mineral waters on your way. (The Hepburn Mineral Springs Reserve is a 30 acre reserve surrounding the Spa Centre. It is heritage listed.)

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It is also famous for the simply stunning buildings, its streetscape and the rolling hills, surrounding the extinct volcano – Wombat Hill, which overlooks the twin townships of Daylesford and Hepburn Springs.

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In many ways it is a challenge to maintain the historical character of the precinct yet still facilitate the needs of the regular stream of tourists and the local population. From the early 1990s, the local Hepburn Shire Council has received royalties on all mineral waters sold on to beverage companies in Australia. The majority is bottled in Melbourne. The funding then available has been used to develop the new Spa complex and other tourist related facilities.

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The Hepburn Springs Bathhouse was first opened to the public in 1895 providing ‘social bathing’. The Hepburn architecture is predominantly Edwardian due to the bushfires in 1906 which effectively destroyed the original township, which was predominantly Victorian architecture as in nearby Daylesford.

In 1864, the local population determined to protect the mineral springs from mining. The migrant populations from Italy, Germany and England rated the mineral waters ‘more valuable than gold’. A bathhouse was constructed in the 1890s. It has been remodelled several times. It was mainly the efforts of the ‘Swiss Italians’ that saved the springs for posterity.

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The most recent remodelling was completed in 2008. From what was effectively a rundown, red brick facility, a mix of Federation, Edwardian and other influences, constructed in the early part of the twentieth century, the Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa is now housed in a thoroughly modern complex, offering hydrotherapy, massage and beauty therapy. It is a tasteful extension and renovation that acknowledge the past yet provides the comforts of the present. The new development cost over $13 million.

Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens

For this week the other location to be visited is ‘The Convent Gallery’ or to give it its proper title ‘The Holy Cross Convent and Boarding School Brides of Christ Convent’.

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Purchased by the Catholic Church in the 1880s as a presbytery for the local priest, it was originally built back in the 1860s as a private residence for the Gold Commissioner. It was disparagingly referred to as ‘Blarney Castle’ at that time.

From the 1890s, the church expanded the complex to accomodate nuns and boarders – opening in 1892 with building continuing through until 1927 including the new North Wing and substantial chapel. The accommodation wing was three storeys with an attic. No heating was provided and with massive costs in upkeep, the nuns moving to alternative accommodation, by the late 1970s the building and its gardens were derelict and neglected.

In 1988, it was purchased by a well known local artist and ceramicist Tina Banitska. It was reopened on March 31st 1991 as the ‘Convent Gallery’. Since then there have been further rounds of renovation to the buildings and grounds that add new life to the original grandeur. These include two major glass fronted function rooms, a penthouse suite and the ‘Altar Bar and Lounge’.

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Externally the building retains its strong Victorian architectural features. Sitting high on the slopes of Wombat Hill, it provides panoramic views to the north and west of Daylesford town and Hepburn Springs. It houses several individual Galleries, a large retail area, a café, the two function rooms and the penthouse suite. It also retains four tiny ‘nun’s cells’ – the original nun’s bedrooms. Perhaps a reflection on the very frugal and harsh past.

It is a real celebration of Art History and Culture. We thoroughly recommend a quiet drink in the ‘Altar Bar and Lounge’ and a toast to the former Archbishop of the Melbourne Diocese, Archbishop Carr. He envisioned the place to become ‘a source of light and edification’ back in 1891. It may well have taken over a hundred years to materialise, but the Convent Gallery is certainly that now and well worth a visit.

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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 update and accelerated destruction in Armadale.

Many of our regular readers have enquired as to what is happening with Federation Square and the proposed Apple Store announced this year. Good news! The National Trust of Australia’s Victorian branch nominated Federation Square for protection in early August. Heritage Victoria has handed down an interim order prohibiting any works anywhere in the vicinity of Federation Square – including the Metro Rail Tunnel. The interim order is considered a serious indication that Heritage Victoria is considering granting permanent protection to the Federation Square Precinct.

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Works were not planned to commence until 2019. Supporters of the precinct such as ‘Citizens for Melbourne’ believe this is a strong indication that Heritage Victoria is looking to include the precinct on the Victorian Heritage Register. President Tania Davige said the interim order permits her organisation and others to take stock and assess the very special nature of Federation Square – or at least what it is that makes it truly special.

“Hopefully, after eight months of discussion behind closed doors, Victorians will now have the opportunity to have a say about the future of their public, cultural and civic square.”

The order also states that Federation Square is under “imminent threat from approved works to facilitate the Metro Tunnel at the CBD south precinct that may detrimentally affect its cultural heritage significance”.

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City of Melbourne heritage portfolio chair Cr Rohan Leppert said the public backlash to the proposed Apple store proved Federation Square “is a site of state significance”. He said he was glad that Heritage Victoria was taking the proposal to permanently protect Federation Square seriously.

“Heritage Victoria’s decision to apply an IPO formalises these public heritage values and is very welcome, as is the exceptional leadership of the National Trust,” he said.

Apple and the state government want to demolish Federation Square’s Yarra building to make way for a tech store.

Tourism and major events minister John Eren said on Thursday that his position on the fledgling heritage status of Federation Square had not changed since Heritage Victoria began assessing it in late July.

“It would be unprecedented to heritage list a site that is only 16 years old, and to do so could lead to significant implications for future projects,” Mr Eren said in a statement.

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“This will not stop us delivering the Metro Tunnel and other vital projects that are good for Melbourne and good for jobs.”

The “refined” design, submitted to Planning Minister Richard Wynne in July, includes a glass rectangular structure, which resembles a floating iPad. The new roof design of the building will allow for solar power.

Melbourne City Council received some 800 complaints about the original design and voted to force Apple to re-draw the plans.

Melburnians were angered when the plans were initially and unexpectedly announced in late 2017.

A station called Town Hall is set to be built on the corner of Federation Square and will stretch underground along Swanston Street. Construction was to have begun this year.

Nominations for heritage listings go through a thorough assessment process, which includes community consultation.

If the heritage listing is successful and Federation Square becomes protected, future developments would require assessment and permission from Heritage Victoria.

Source: theage.com.au

Another interesting Heritage battle is continuing in Armadale. The suburb is being targeted by Developers keen on using the large blocks ‘available’ for building apartment complexes. It isn’t going to stop until Richard Wynne, the Planning Minister, steps into the fray.

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The first dwelling under threat is already being slowly dismantled for its building materials. Located at 33-35 Huntingtower Rd it is one of Armadale’s oldest and most expensive homes. built in 1909 ‘Offerton’ was sold ‘off market’ in October 2017 for $10.8 million! This was the fourth highest reported residential price ever in the suburb.

Houses such as this are difficult to achieve Heritage listing for. Individually such homes will not be granted interim protection. The intelligent move is to try and ensure a heritage overlay for the entire block or a large section of the suburb.

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This home is Federation style and the only of its kind in the street, one of the few in the entire suburb. Stonnington Council accepted the report of a ‘heritage consultant’. The consultant dismissed the call for a listing on the basis that the property was simply not a good enough example of Federation style.

Currently the demolition company is carefully removing the hand made and crafted features of the home for further resale.

Stonnington Council permitted the demolition to proceed last October – 9 days prior to it being sold as earlier stated for $10.8M.

A building permit for the knock down was then issued by a private building surveyor in March.

He said as the council had 15 business days to consider a proposed demolition, there was no opportunity for public consultation.

No plans have been lodged with council for a replacement building.

The resident said she understood the new owner was a developer who planned to replace the house with high-end townhouses.

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The resident said she and fellow Armadale locals didn’t become aware of the knock down until the work had begun.

“People don’t want this place pulled down because it’s irreplaceable,” she said.

“It’s one of very few in the suburb — Armadale is made up of worker’s cottages and modest Victorians.

“Melbourne is changing so fast, and there’s no community involvement.”

Source: realestate.com.au

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Also, in Armadale a home built in the 1880s at 34 Armadale St Armadale is now facing the wreckers hammers. It will also make way for apartments. A demolition permit has been issued. Valued at $6 million, local residents believe the building to be ‘of architectural significance’. Unfortunately no-one thought to apply for a heritage listing and this beautiful building will almost certainly be demolished.

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Gracious period detail adorns the home including soaring ceilings, magnificent open fireplaces and tessellated tiled return verandah.

Source: realestate.com.au

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With substantial grounds, a tennis court and landscaping by John Patrick, this is a beautiful property.

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The real problem is that such purchases and demolitions are simply not made public until the bulldozers are doing their job. Armadale is a beautiful suburb, but the likelihood is that in 20 years it will have experienced the same level of development and high per metre occupancy rates as nearby North Caulfield and East St Kilda.

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The cautionary tale is to observe what is in fact unique, of historical and architectural merit in your suburbs and take action through both your local council and bodies such as the National Trust and the Heritage Council of Victoria to protect our older suburbs.

It takes an active and vigilant population to ensure we do not further diminish the wonderful heritage we currently enjoy in such locations. Don’t assume, check. once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.

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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.

Real Planning – Real Progress. Time for a Uniform Approach.

Melbourne City Councillor Nick Reece has called for an improvement in the overall standard of the city’s new buildings during this current construction boom. At Balance Architecture we wholeheartedly agree with him. There are some wonderful new buildings completed and very exciting projects still in the pipeline. But it would appear, especially with many of the earlier developments of this new millennium, that there has been no uniform application of standards applied to such new developments and constructions. Often there are attempts to crowd far too much infrastructure onto minuscule plots of land, or to appease heritage values in a grand fashion, yet with little real appreciation of the true heritage value of a building or location.

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Or particular concern to our team and many others is the lip service, paid to some heritage CBD sites, known as ‘corner sites’. The Developers purchase a land parcel that eventually includes these corner locations and proceeds to develop major towers behind or on top of the important corner properties. Known as the ‘80m on corners’ rule, this fairy obvious flaw in the planning regulations will see a 27 storey high tower built atop of one of Melbourne’s last remaining pubs. The tower will be perched above the remaining facade of the old Metropolitan Hotel on the corner of Williams St and Little Lonsdale St, thus acknowledging its historical value – (not!).

The critique from Melbourne Heritage Action explains in detail this anomaly.

Planning rules target historic corner buildings

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In June, the last CBD pub that didn’t have heritage protection, the 1925 Metropolitan Hotel on the corner of William Street and Little Lonsdale, became the latest place threatened by the little known ‘80m on corners’ rule.

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A development proposal would see just the external walls retained, and a 27 storey ‘as of right’ tower above, perched on legs through the roof. This has fortunately been put on hold while the City of Melbourne moves to heritage-list the site as one of the few pubs left in the CBD, though this may not prevent something like it going ahead. Listed buildings in the CBD and South Carlton have been allowed to have towers-on-legs above retained facades despite the obviously poor heritage outcomes. The Elms Family Hotel on Spring Street and the former Bank of Australasia on the Haymarket are two examples currently under construction. A worse version, without legs, is happening to the (non-heritage listed) gold-rush era Great Western Hotel on King Street, where the facades will be stuck the base of a 27 storey tower, allowed thanks to the 80m rule.

 

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The Great Western and the Metropolitan have come under this kind of pressure because of a clause first mooted in April 2016 as part of new rules about how much you can build on any one site. These rules included a mandatory setback of 5m from any street or lane above a pedestrian-scaled podium of 20 to 40m (5 to 10 storeys), EXCEPT if it was on a corner, in which case you could go up to 80m (27 floors). This clause means corner sites are more valuable, and sure enough both hotels were sold in mid 2016 at higher than expected yields. The reasons for this peculiar situation, which will mean a pedestrian scale for one site and a sheer tower next door, were never fully explained, and its clear it particularly affects historic buildings.

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Other corners in the CBD that are now under more pressure include a number of ex pubs, such as the 1872 Alexandra Hotel on the Russell and Little Lonsdale, which was only sold this month. The 1913 Kilkenny Inn on King and Lonsdale, has been rumoured to be for sale for some time, and the Art Nouveau Charles Hotham Hotel on Spencer Street was sold a year ago. Other buildings are at risk, such as the 1923 bank, now a hotel, on the corner of Collins and Spencer, the 1869 shops on the corner of Queen and Little Bourke, and currently unlisted places like the 1913 warehouse on King Street cnr of Little Bourke.

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MHA believes that this 80m-corners rule was a mistake that should be rectified, but this seems unlikely. In the meantime, we can only hope that improved heritage rules, under way at the moment, will prevent the kind of terrible compromises created by pitting heritage against high development potential.

Source: melbourneheritage.org.au

An anomaly such as this cannot be corrected in the future. This and other issues simply reflecting the need for good design in the ‘most liveable city in the world’ have concerned the City of Melbourne where its legislative process is trumped by the State Government’s Planning Department’s overview and extensive powers. In his article published in the Age, dated July 1st 2018, Councillor Reece is quoted as saying:

“We have let too much crap be built”

Councillor Reece is the chair of Melbourne City Council’s Planning Department.

The article continues…

New city design rules to target bad – and good – building plans

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Now, the council wants current Planning Minister Richard Wynne to help it raise the bar: by giving city planners new rules to discourage developers turning streets into unpleasant places to be.

It wants Mr Wynne to hand them more power to negotiate with architects and developers over how their buildings impact on city streets.

This week, Mr Wynne released for consultation the council’s Central Melbourne Design Guide – the biggest rewrite of the city’s urban design policies since the 1990s.

The guide attempts to improve building designs by encouraging some types of design, and provides a raft of directions on what developers must avoid.

It wants developers to learn from some of the lessons of the worst buildings of the past decade.

What Melbourne City Council wants to see less of:

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“We want to see more buildings that give back to the public realm,” says Cr Reece, who argues that while Melbourne is by far Australia’s most attractive and interesting city, it has been degraded by recent bad architecture and design.

He nominates the 46-year-old former BHP House, on the corner of William and Bourke streets, as evidence that “good design holds up and continues to shine over time”.

He also points to buildings such as the postage stamp sized Monaco House in Ridgway Place, the Riverland bar on the Yarra, Federation Square and the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre in Parkville as examples of the city’s modern design excellence.

But while these were shining beacons, they are being weighed down by other, terrible examples, he says.

“We are seeing low-quality design outcomes,” says the Labor councillor, who served in senior positions with both ex-Victorian premier John Brumby and former prime minister Julia Gillard.

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The council’s proposed design policy wants fewer service doors and outlets to electricity substations, fire equipment and gas outlets placed on footpaths.

Their proliferation, caused by a competition for space on the street, sees developers build on tiny plots and opt for the easiest solution: placing essential services on the ground floor.

The Age photographed Cr Reece this week on just such a street: Literature Lane, at the back of the new A’Beckett Tower.

“A long row of services along the lane way has cruelled … this gem of a laneway,” Cr Reece says.

The council’s policy also targets the damage done to city streets from parking.

It wants to see huge vehicle entrances to underground car parks on major streets wound back and also proposes banning above-ground car parks in the CBD.

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The policy attempts to push developers to design better street frontages and avoid street walls or podiums that present a continuous monotonous facade.

Cr Reece cites Spencer Street’s discount outlet, next to the award-winning Southern Cross railway station, as just such a building: “A scar on Melbourne [blocking] the connection between the city and Docklands”.

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And the policy tries to dissuade developers from using highly reflective glass that both obscures views and causes dangerous reflections for drivers.

The Prima Pearl tower in Southbank was in many ways an “elegant tall tower”, Cr Reece said. But he argues its highly reflective materials “cause unacceptable levels of glare”.

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Recently retired planning academic Michael Buxton is a vocal critic of Melbourne’s recently built skyscrapers and has lambasted successive planning ministers for not standing up to developers.

He said the city council’s new design rules were “minor window dressing” that would help if approved.

“But the really big issues – height and bulk and apartment size – the state government just isn’t interested in,” Professor Buxton says.

With more tall towers on their way to Melbourne’s city centre, though, Cr Reece hopes Mr Wynne will approve his council’s new policy so developers and building designers know precisely what will be supported.

“It makes economic sense to create great streets,” he says.

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Cr Reece’s examples of excellence

“We need to be more sophisticated than thinking everything built before 1900 was beautiful and everything since 1960 is ugly. We all love Town Hall, The Exhibition Building and Manchester Unity Building. But there has also been some amazing buildings built this millennium that we should acknowledge and celebrate. We have many beautiful buildings, designed by contemporary architects.”

  • Eureka Tower (2006) – Fender Katsalidis
  • Monaco House – Ridgway Place, city (2008) – McBride Charles Ryan
  • Federation Square (2002) – Lab Architecture Studio and Bates Smart
  • ACCA – Sturt Street, Southbank (2002) – Wood Marsh
  • AAMI Park (2011) – Cox Architecture
  • Riverland (2006) Six Degrees and Arbory Bar and Restaurant (2015)
  • Jackson Clements Burrows – Yarra Edge, Federation Square and Flinders St Station.
  • VCCC – Parkville (2017) – Silver Thomas Hanley and Design inc (STHDI) and McBride Charles Ryan (MCR)
  • Peel Street Developments – Collingwood (2017) – DKO and Jackson Clement Burrows
  • Urban Workshop – Lonsdale Street (2006) – NH Architecture, Hassell Architects and John Wardle Architects

Source: theage.com.au

At Balance Architecture we have some sympathy for Councillor Reece’s position, as well as being in agreement with recently retired Planning Academic Michael Buxton’s comments. For some time now we have suggested that all planning authorities – State, Municipal and Federal, combined with Heritage Victoria and the Heritage Council of Victoria must work towards a uniform policy on design and development that acknowledges our city’s rich and diverse architecture yet provides an educated and meaningful platform for development.

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And if this doesn’t happen, unfortunately there will be further Corkman Pub style debacles tied up in legal debate for years to come – when finally it’s too late – the horse has bolted. There must be planning laws that apply across the board on construction and development agreed to by these separate agencies empowered to enforce planning law. Currently it simply requires an application to VCAT to overrule many such planning directions.

In any case, from our perspective this initiative from Councillor Reece and the City of Melbourne is a sound direction for the future. With the consideration given by planning Minister Wynne and his department to projects like the Queen Victoria Market, Southbank’s new Art Precinct and other developments we may well be turning a very significant corner.

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What we don’t want is unplanned chaos as was the likely outcome of the previous Government’s Fisherman’s Bend debacle. Strong planning directions as evidenced by Wynne’s decision to fully investigate all requirements for that project prior to any commencement of building is a major step in the right direction. Lets hope this is the beginning of sensible planning, development and design for our great city, and the vision of its founders realised with great beauty, functionality and liveability.

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As John Batman said, “This will be the place for a village”

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

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

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

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

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

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is confident of community support.

From the ABC news report of 03.06.2018.

 

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

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

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

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The State Government hopes the project will create thousands of jobs

New gallery not in competition with MONA, director says

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

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

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

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

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

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

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An artists impression of green space along Southbank Boulevard

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

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

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

Source: abc.net.au

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

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

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

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

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

Here is the Victorian Heritage action Newsletter.

Southbank Heritage – Have Your Say !

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

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

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

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

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Submissions are due by the 29th June.

Source: melbourneheritage.org.au

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

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

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

Call to Halt Temporary Queen Victoria Market Structure. Update on St Vincent’s Hospital Appealing Heritage Rulings.

This week we bring you two further updates – one on the Queen Victoria Market re-development and renovation, and one on the state of play regarding the St Vincent’s Hospital 11 storey extension project. In both instances there are serious challenges to Heritage Listings or Heritage Victoria rulings.

With candidates lining up to replace former Lord Mayor Robert Doyle, there is a significant indication that the Robert Doyle backed plan for the Queen Victoria Market will not proceed in its present format.

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The issues involved are not just the heritage sheds, but the difficult and uncompromising trading conditions being imposed upon market traders during the construction period. Add to this the multi storey adjacent developments (approved) there is a general sense that the Queen Victoria Market would entirely lose its character and sense of history.

The market is a ‘people’s’ venue. Its stalls, its produce, its trading hours all reflect the demographics it has traditionally served – workers, students, migrants, bohemians and more recently city and inner city dwellers. It provides choice, quality and product simply not found in supply line marketing such as Supermarkets and Department Stores.

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Alternative plans have been mooted, prepared and submitted by the ‘Friends of the Queen Victoria Market’ – and ignored.

There are strong objections from both traders and the market’s shoppers to the proposed development. Opponents are now asking that the temporary structure planned for traders to use during the shed dismantlement and basement construction now be shelved – permanently. Read this article from the Age Newspaper dated 02/03/18

Ditch $7m temporary pavilion, say opponents of Queen Vic Market plans

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An artist’s impression of a proposed temporary “greenhouse” pavilion to be built on Queen Street, between the two sides of the Queen Victoria Market.

Opponents of redevelopment plans for the Queen Victoria Market say a $7.4 million temporary “greenhouse” pavilion is a waste of money that should be abandoned.

Melbourne City Council is set to approve new plans on Tuesday for the Queen Street pavilion, proposed to temporarily accommodate traders dislodged by council redevelopment works.

But those works were thrown into disarray last week when the state’s heritage authority refused to grant Melbourne City Council a permit.

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The city council wants to put services for traders working in some of the 140-year-old upper market sheds below ground. It also wants to dig underground parking for 220 cars.

Heritage Victoria, though, ruled that this should not be done saying the proposed works were “unacceptably detrimental” to the heritage sheds, and that the works were unnecessary on economic grounds. Acting lord mayor Arron Wood has vowed to challenge the refusal.

But this challenge will take up to a year.

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A view of the proposed temporary greenhouse pavilion, in Queen Street.

The council is pressing ahead with the planned temporary pavilion, designed by architects Breathe.

While the cost has risen from $5 million to $7.4 million, the structure is shorter than one the council approved last year – it will be 111 metres long, not 264 metres.

The pavilion’s ground level will be for traders while the upper level will include a greenhouse.

A council spokeswoman said the temporary pavilion would ensure stallholders could continue to trade within the market while works were carried out.

And she said the new pavilion would allow operators to test stalls with better access to refrigeration and storage, and trial different opening hours.

The greenhouse, designed to raise environmental awareness, will necessitate seven plane trees being cut down.

A lobby group representing some traders and shoppers, the Friends of Queen Victoria Market, said the pavilion project should be put on hold.

Spokeswoman Miriam Faine said a group of opponents to the plan intended to be at Tuesday night’s council meeting to speak against the pavilion.

She said there were two reasons it was not needed: “Their [the council’s] plans are up in the air, and the market at the moment, it’s half empty so they don’t need it for that reason too.”

She said the market needed more stall holders, “not more structures like this”.

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An artist’s impression of the proposed buildings on the “Munro site”, on the corner of Queen and Therry streets, opposite the Queen Victoria Market’s deli hall.

Also at the council on Tuesday are designs going to Planning Minister Richard Wynne for a tower and linked low-rise building developer PDG is building, with the city council.

On land known as the “Munro site”, the tower will rise to 40 storeys. Together with the council’s building, it will include 410 apartments – including 56 low-cost housing units.

Ms Faine said Mr Wynne and the state government should be given credit for having refused the 60-storey skyscraper Melbourne City Council had wanted built there.

Source: theage.com.au

It would seem somewhat preemptory to continue with this part of the project if the heritage appeal is a minimum one year away.

The second update pertains to the St Vincent’s Hospital multi-storey development. The Hospital intends to press ahead with its plans to demolish a portion of the historical Eastern Hill Hotel (the former headquarters of the Eight Hour Day movement), the historic Easthill House and the rear of the Dodgshun House, on the location where the cottage St Mary McKillop was born in 1842 was located.

There is deep dissension within the local community and with the local Council (Yarra Council) with all relevant properties being covered by a full suburb heritage overlay.

Again, please read the Sydney Morning Herald article here reprinted from the 27/03/18.

Private hospital plans to demolish heritage-listed buildings

St Vincent’s Private hospital is seeking to partially demolish two heritage-listed Fitzroy buildings, one associated with the eight-hour day movement and the other with Saint Mary McKillop, to make way for an 11-storey hospital extension.

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An artists impression of the new St Vincent’s Private hospital.

The hospital’s plans, labelled “imperialist” by local opponents, were approved by Yarra Council with strict conditions around the heritage buildings.

St Vincent’s Private subsequently appealed the decision at Victoria’s planning tribunal.

A justification for the development submitted by St Vincent’s says the hospital is facing “bed block” during the week, forcing it to divert non-elective or urgent private patients to other hospitals.

The new hospital wing will replace part of the existing hospital and includes demolishing a portion of the Eastern Hill Hotel, razing the historic Easthill House and removing the rear of the two-storey Italianate mansion, Dodgshun House.

The gold-rush era former Eastern Hill Hotel, on the corner of Brunswick Street and Victoria Parade, is listed on Victoria’s heritage register and was once used by trade unionists as the headquarters for the eight-hour day movement.

Dodgshun House, also on the register, is the Brunswick Street location of Marino Cottage where Saint Mary McKillop was born in 1842.

Easthill House on Victoria Parade is considered individually significant from a heritage perspective.

The entire site of the hospital also falls under a heritage overlay.

St Vincent’s hopes to replace all three buildings with a $94 million structure featuring natural and midnight copper cladding that will house 91 new multi-day beds for patients, 12 same-day beds and additional operating rooms.

The building will be set above a new podium on Victoria Parade and Brunswick Street.

Yarra councillor Steve Jolly said the plans also included building over a heritage bluestone lane and demolishing a three-storey building at 5 Brunswick Street that was an Indigenous birthing center in the 1970s.

“St Vincent’s Private can expand like invading imperialists or show a bit of respect for local heritage. It’s up to them,” Mr Jolly said.

“We can’t let big cheque books override our history.”

The hospital has also applied to expand an existing multi-storey car park at 93-99 Victoria Parade.

Unfortunately for St Vincent’s, its application to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to review conditions put on its planning permit failed to get a clear result.

The conditions effectively stopped the hospital extension from intruding on any part of the sites listed on the Victorian Heritage Register.

Tribunal deputy president Helen Gibson said it wasn’t possible to provide an “easy or straightforward response” to the question asked of the tribunal.

“My opinion must be qualified and will not necessarily produce a simple, definitive answer to the underlying question of whether [the] conditions .. are valid,” she said.

Source: smh.com.au

The business case for the extension simply doesn’t stack up when considered against the actions of other inner city Hospitals. The Jessie McPherson and Mercy Hospitals moved to suburban locations where building provided no issues. Fitzroy is an iconic reminder of our original history. Apart from eyesores like the Housing Commission Flats on Brunswick St and the full estate there, it remains largely intact. On the surface it would appear that demanding the demolition or part demolition of heritage buildings of quite some significance is simply bloody minded. And remember, this is not an extension of the ‘Public Hospital’ but purely a money making venture, by St Vincent’s ‘Private’ Hospital.

It’s a well funded and clever ‘sleight of hand’ with smart copywriting of press releases hinting at minimalist effect to the area and its heritage. Well this time, many people both local and otherwise say ‘No!’

It’s an integral part of our heritage and it deserves to be preserved and acknowledged.

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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.

Daylesford – The Enigma of Gold, Culture and the Healing Waters

With Easter nearly upon us, thoughts turn to where to head for a break. A favourite destination for many is the town of Daylesford, about 100km west of Melbourne. Gold was discovered on Wombat Flats, now deep below Daylesford Lake, in 1852. These alluvial deposits were the forerunner to deep quartz mining, which continued until the 1930s. Gold – the foundation of another heritage town, in this case providing the bounty that built the magnificent buildings of Daylesford and Hepburn Springs.

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Daylesford these days is better known as the Spa capital of Australia. It has long been renowned as a place to ‘take the waters’ and now features the Hepburn Spa complex and walking trails with many springs to sample the mineral waters on your way. (The Hepburn Mineral Springs Reserve is a 30 acre reserve surrounding the Spa Centre. It is heritage listed.)

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It is also famous for the simply stunning buildings, its streetscape and the rolling hills, surrounding the extinct volcano – Wombat Hill, which overlooks the twin townships of Daylesford and Hepburn Springs.

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In many ways it is a challenge to maintain the historical character of the precinct yet still facilitate the needs of the regular stream of tourists and the local population. From the early 1990s, the local Hepburn Shire Council has received royalties on all mineral waters sold on to beverage companies in Australia. The majority is bottled in Melbourne. The funding then available has been used to develop the new Spa complex and other tourist related facilities.

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The Hepburn Springs Bathhouse was first opened to the public in 1895 providing ‘social bathing’. The Hepburn architecture is predominantly Edwardian due to the bushfires in 1906 which effectively destroyed the original township, which was predominantly Victorian architecture as in nearby Daylesford.

In 1864, the local population determined to protect the mineral springs from mining. The migrant populations from Italy, Germany and England rated the mineral waters ‘more valuable than gold’. A bathhouse was constructed in the 1890s. It has been remodelled several times. It was mainly the efforts of the ‘Swiss Italians’ that saved the springs for posterity.

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The most recent remodelling was completed in 2008. From what was effectively a rundown, red brick facility, a mix of Federation, Edwardian and other influences, constructed in the early part of the twentieth century, the Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa is now housed in a thoroughly modern complex, offering hydrotherapy, massage and beauty therapy. It is a tasteful extension and renovation that acknowledge the past yet provides the comforts of the present. The new development cost over $13 million.

Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens

For this week the other location to be visited is ‘The Convent Gallery’ or to give it its proper title ‘The Holy Cross Convent and Boarding School Brides of Christ Convent’.

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Purchased by the Catholic Church in the 1880s as a presbytery for the local priest, it was originally built back in the 1860s as a private residence for the Gold Commissioner. It was disparagingly referred to as ‘Blarney Castle’ at that time.

From the 1890s, the church expanded the complex to accomodate nuns and boarders – opening in 1892 with building continuing through until 1927 including the new North Wing and substantial chapel. The accommodation wing was three storeys with an attic. No heating was provided and with massive costs in upkeep, the nuns moving to alternative accommodation, by the late 1970s the building and its gardens were derelict and neglected.

In 1988, it was purchased by a well known local artist and ceramicist Tina Banitska. It was reopened on March 31st 1991 as the ‘Convent Gallery’. Since then there have been further rounds of renovation to the buildings and grounds that add new life to the original grandeur. These include two major glass fronted function rooms, a penthouse suite and the ‘Altar Bar and Lounge’.

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Externally the building retains its strong Victorian architectural features. Sitting high on the slopes of Wombat Hill, it provides panoramic views to the north and west of Daylesford town and Hepburn Springs. It houses several individual Galleries, a large retail area, a café, the two function rooms and the penthouse suite. It also retains four tiny ‘nun’s cells’ – the original nun’s bedrooms. Perhaps a reflection on the very frugal and harsh past.

It is a real celebration of Art History and Culture. We thoroughly recommend a quiet drink in the ‘Altar Bar and Lounge’ and a toast to the former Archbishop of the Melbourne Diocese, Archbishop Carr. He envisioned the place to become ‘a source of light and edification’ back in 1891. It may well have taken over a hundred years to materialise, but the Convent Gallery is certainly that now and well worth a visit.

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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.