Reuse options for Civic Hall planned

OPTIONS for Civic Hall and how the space could be reopened and revitalised were discussed at a meeting by the Save Civic Hall group at the Mechanics Institute on Sunday. 

Architect and co-director of Here Studio Ammon Beyerle showed adaptive reuse plans for the Civic Hall, made by the group, architects and architect students. 

“We just want to spark debate about what is adaptive reuse,” Mr Beyerle said. 

One of their examples included London’s Tate Modern.

“It was an old power station that was, in many people’s view, a little bit ugly, and it’s now an acclaimed space world wide. 

“It’s a great example that mixes old and new. We have an opportunity here in Ballarat to do that with Civic Hall.” 

Mr Beyerle said adaptive reuse meant some of the facade of the building could be changed. 

“One idea is to allow more light in and have lower windows, so people can see out and in.”

Substation director Jeremy Gaden presented on the Substation in Newport, a building which was empty and derelict for 30 years before being adaptively reused and is now set up as an arts community centre. 

“You have to embrace the past and embrace the future when looking at old buildings like these. You have to look and see the future for the hall,” Mr Gaden said. “Saving the building on historical references isn’t enough.”

Save Civic Hall chair Jonathan Halls said the Ballarat City Council’s planning application for demolition of the hall had been put on the shelf, but hadn’t been thrown out as yet. Mr Halls said the group was meeting fortnightly with the City of Ballarat chief executive officer. “We’re pursuing the community engagement that was to be considered in a council motion passed and pushing for the advisory committee also in the motion.”

He said although it was good to work with the council, he was wary of political agendas.

“It was an election promise from Denis Napthine that prompted the change of plan, so we’re meeting with all the candidates from the area, seeking their support and to see what they can pledge for the site.”

nicole.cairns@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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