Heritage Victoria has given approval for the construction of a full-scale replica of the long-demolished Gothic fernery which once graced Ballarat's Botanical Gardens.
In what has been part-detective story and part-archaeological reconstruction, Ms McIntosh says the pre-fabricated building will be delivered to the gardens in coming months, under budget and with a painstaking attention to original detail.
The original fernery came to the end of its working life about 30 years after it was constructed, says heritage consultant and architect John Briggs.
Built of timber, the 1876 Gothic-inspired building was never really designed to have a long lifespan, he says, as water and weather took its toll.
However, the Edwardian replacement, built around 1907, lacked the dramatic impact the original had, and subsequent iterations of the fernery have been increasingly drab.
This particular project is one of a kindSamantha McIntosh
With the approval of Heritage Victoria, a steel-framed replica of the main building will be manufactured offsite and brought in once the foundation work is completed at the gardens.
It will be clad in timber and has been made to match the original building to the millimetre - or inch and foot: as Mr Briggs pointed out, the conversion from the original plans needed to accommodate the imperial measurements of the time.
"It's spectacular, " says Cr McIntosh of the new design.
"This particular project is one of a kind. There are a couple of other examples of buildings around the country that are full replicas of an original piece but it's an very unusual thing to do."
Cr McIntosh says the final agreements about the design of the gardens around the fernery are now being completed in consultation with Heritage Victoria, and following those talks she expects work to be underway in a few weeks.
"People will see this come together quickly. I'm very proud of what we've done."