Architecture graduate unveils his vision for the Civic Hall precinct

Ballarat’s Civic Hall has been re-imagined as a multi-purpose space complete with a high school, leisure centre, community hall, microbrewery and residential living.

Instead of being a lone identity not required by the city, the hall could connect back to the central business district itself, according to Alfredton architecture graduate Aaron Bettio-Sandlant.

The RMIT University graduate said he produced a set of sketches depicting the hall’s adaptive reuse for his final project at university after attending several Ballarat City Council meetings last year.

“I listened to what the community said and I saw it was an important asset,” he said.

“I could see it was isolated from the city centre. The idea was to contain programs that would connect into the city centre itself.”

It comes after never-before-published drawings by Melbourne architect Peter Sandow were revealed last week, illustrating how the existing hall could be adapted into a 21st century centre.

But a planning permit application to demolish the hall has already been lodged and will go to the council for a decision in May.

Mr Bettio-Sandlant said he did not believe the hall should be knocked down, given the level of community interest in retention.

He said a competition could be held, with a prize attached, to encourage more architects to come forward with ideas for the space.

“People that are producing ideas to knock down the hall should come to a deeper understanding of what could happen there,” he said.

His vision for the site incorporates a secondary school with a connection to the existing library and art gallery.

Opening it to a school would fulfil the hall’s original purpose of providing an asset for the community, he said.

An open boardwalk with seating could be utilised at lunchtime by staff in the state government offices across the road; a swimming pool is included to open the back of the hall to community use and a microbrewery connects to Ballarat’s existing laneway precinct in Lydiard Street.