This post is part of my #Ballarat series of guest posts for Archi Parlour on instagram.
This series is all about Ballarat’s Contemporary Architecture. Our city is more well known for it’s heritage buildings, but there are some great examples of contemporary architecture too… and hopefully many more to come in the future! So I wanted to showcase a few examples of our most popular new architecture…do you recognise any of these?
The Eureka Stockade Centre was originally designed by @coxarchitecture in 1998. In 2013 Williams Boag designed alterations and additions for its reincarnation as M.A.D.E. (The Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka).
The new entry to the building now faces out to the surrounding parklands, which is where the battle took place back in 1854 at the height of the Gold-Rush. It has been described as the ‘birthplace of Australian democracy’, and yesterday was the 161st anniversary!
“M.A.D.E harnesses the energy and emotion behind the Eureka story to inspire ways in which individuals can act to improve their world. It challenges and questions, and provokes debate about our future.” www.made.org
The exhibits at M.A.D.E. focus not only on the site-specific history, but give a wider context to the meaning of democracy. The large interactive touch-screens make learning about history fun and engaging. There’s a lot to digest there about the goldminers and their struggles for #democracy, but there are also displays to help put it in perspective in our eyes today – questions about #equality, people and power, with recognition of some of the world’s most influential and inspiring people who stood up for what they believed in and made a change.
Ballarat Civic Hall
Ballarat’s Civic Hall was designed by Herbert ‘Les’ Coburn and Gordon Murphy and was opened in 1956.
It is Modernist, Stripped Classical Revival with Art Deco touches, and was constructed from over half a million local cream bricks (!) and it is one of the first steel-framed buildings outside of Melbourne. The building’s capacity is about 2000 people and over the years it has held many social, cultural and political events. But in 2002 the doors were closed due to disrepair and underuse. Since its closure, it has been a turbulent and controversial debate over the future of the site (demolition versus adaptive-reuse) with much indecision…until last year when Here Studio Architects were engaged to lead a team undertake a participatory community design process to (finally!) start taking real steps towards how the Civic Hall Site (including adjacent Library/Community buildings, Car Parking and Skate Park) could be transformed to once again become a real community hub in our urban landscape.
Ballarat Fine Art Gallery
Ballarat’s Fine Art Gallery was established in 1884 and is the oldest and largest regional art gallery in the country. Many alterations and additions have taken place over the years, including the Art Gallery Annexe in 2011 by Searle and Waldron @nick_searle @ suzannahwaldron. This example of contemporary architecture here in Ballarat is a favourite of mine – I love that the project adopted three hybrid postures of a public hall, a verandah and a band stand. It can house exhibits and seminars/workshops inside when it is closed, but it can also completely open out to “Alfred Deakin Place” to create a covered performance space for many outdoor events. This connection to the existing heritage and modern buildings, and to the gallery and the plaza, and the way the changing levels have been considered is a real success.
The Invermay House by local architectural practice, Moloney Architects @moloneyarch @jules_moloneyarch, was completed last year. It’s a striking building on a sloped rural site just out of town. Designed for a family who wanted to take advantage of the views across Ballarat and also views to the treetops, the two storey linear form is orientated to ensure passive solar gain, whilst ensuring those views to the west are captured. The palette of materials includes spotted gum cladding and off-form concrete which gives texture and warmth to the dwelling, with some beautifully detailed timber joinery inside. The house deservedly won the 2015 National Rising Star Design Award at the Australian Timber Design Awards, and has been widely published all over the world.
The ‘Grand Arch’ by sculptor Inge King’s was designed in 1983 and fabricated in 2001 to be a ‘Symbolic gateway into Ballarat’s arts and education precinct’. It sits on a grassy slope on the Camp Street side of ‘Alfred Deakin Place’, a public plaza joining the Art Gallery and University buildings; creating a bold architectural statement that helps define the entry to the urban space, and visually links the diverse architectural styles that surround it. Inge King recently celebrated her 100th birthday and she has been described as “one of the most significant living sculptors in Australia” as her public sculptures have “become icons in the Australian Landscape”. (Source: Sasha Grishin Canberra Times).
Conservatory and Horticultural Centre
The Robert Clarke Conservatory and Horticultural Centre is located in Ballarat’s Botanical Gardens and was designed by Peter Elliot in 1995. A local landmark set amongst magnificent parkland, the impressive steel and glass folded structure is home to floral displays of beautiful begonias.
“Elliott has created a glasshouse in the tradition of the great glass buildings of the last century. It is, as the jury described it, ‘an altogether beautiful, simple, structurally refined and thermally complex’ structure. It is the kind of architecture you don’t expect to bump into outside of major cities.” (Joe Rollo, Contemporary Melbourne Architecture.)
“Technically and visually inventive, Peter Elliott’s pavilion of folded glass for the Ballarat Gardens in Victoria is a triumph of constructivist geometry…..this is a building of sublime hopes and small details.” (Norman Day Architecture Australia 61, 1995)
“Rising like a giant crystal from the ground, the Robert Clark Conservatory is derived from nature. The crystalline facetted form of this building is made through the process of ‘origami’ folding to produce a transparent spidery web of steel and glass.” (www.peterelliott.com.au)
‘Lake Wendouree Residence’
The ‘Lake Wendouree Residence’ designed by John Wardle Architects @johnwardlearchitects was built in 2015. As the name suggests, it is located on Wendouree Parade, looking across to the city’s iconic lake. The building connects to its context by framing views to the parklands, water, and sky, and this is most evident with the large abstract window that wraps around its street frontage. There are rich ‘invented logic’ conceptual ideas behind the design, with it responding firstly to the panoramic vistas from different vantage points within the house, secondly to Ballarat’s love for gardens (with the layout designed around numerous garden typologies), and thirdly to the heritage boathouses on the lake (with ‘floating’ first floor rooms to the rear). If only this were a public building for our wider community to experience and appreciate the complexity and resolution of great architectural design.
I’m looking forward to being able to showcase many more contemporary architectural gems in Ballarat in the future! Please stay tuned for the final instalment of the #Ballarat series – some inspiring local women who are helping lead Ballarat to a better future. And if you missed the previous series of Ballarat’s Heritage Buildings, you can find it here.
What’s your favourite example of contemporary architecture? For you, is it more about the external appearance, or the internal ambience…. Please let me know in the comments below!
Talina Edwards Architecture: elemental design is a Ballarat-based studio, with a passion for sustainable design, green buildings and healthy homes. Click here to ensure you won’t miss out on our news!