GovHub designs revealed: lower hall becomes public space

Unveiled concept designs for Mair Street’s GovHub have aimed to bring together one of the most maligned precincts in Ballarat.

The planned state government office will be the Civic Hall site’s last major refurbishment project.

Designs released on Saturday morning revealed a five-storey building, split into two sections on Mair and Armstrong streets.

The main access to the building, set to house 1000 government workers from 2020, will front Armstrong Street and the Ballarat Train Station.

In between Civic Hall and GovHub a glass conservatory will be built, to protect the space from becoming a wind tunnel.

There will also be an open plaza at the centre of the site, connecting its three public buildings.

Regional development minister Jaala Pulford said the project would revitialise a building that has been underused for 15 years.

“Civic Hall has provided no public benefit to anyone for a long period of time,” she said.

“It is really exciting for us to be able to share this with the community.

“It looks like the architect has thought about how to keep the space really open to the public, and how to make sure that, what is essentially a big building, still feels very open.”

The government also plans to build a three level underground car park under the northern section of the GovHub site.

It will see the current car park removed and the total car parking capacity reduced to accommodate the new building.

Despite initial plans to demolish the lower hall, it will now instead be reconstructed and turned into a public space, such as a cafe or bar.

Committee for Ballarat chair Janet Dore said the decision to retain the section was a poor use of space at the site.

“They are departing from the master plan we all understood,” she said.,

“That the space will not be maximised for office space – we wanted the whole thing demolished, we thought that would enable better use of the site.

The GovHub development will be completed alongside an $8 million Ballarat City Council refurbishment of Civic Hall.

Ballarat City mayor Samantha McIntosh said the designs for GovHub had taken into account a broad range of community views on the best future for the lower hall site.

“The architects have listened broadly to the views of the community and council,” she said.

Ballarat residents can see the design concepts for GovHub at the Mining Exchange, between 10am-2pm on Saturday.