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Peter Elliott Architects to deliver South Melbourne Town Hall revamp

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Brendan Rees

Much-anticipated work to breathe new life into the South Melbourne Town Hall is expected to start early next year, after Peter Elliott Architects was announced as the project’s leader.

The heritage-listed 140-year-old building is due for a major restoration and renewal after it had fallen into disrepair and sitting empty since July 2020 following the collapse of the roof in 2018 that triggered the fire system, causing water damage.

A $60 million restoration will be completed in two phases with the first involving a clear-out, which was expected to be completed in September before the second phase sees renewal works start to return the building to its former glory.

The Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM) secured a 35-year lease of the South Melbourne Town Hall from the City of Port Phillip in March after councillors threw its support behind the organisation and its vision.

ANAM, which is internationally renowned as the only purely performance classical music training academy in Australia, and one of only a few in the world, pledged $20.5 million to deliver new rehearsal and performance spaces for students, as well a new café and kitchen.

In an exciting development in September, ANAM announced that Peter Elliott Architects would be its lead consultants for the town hall’s revamp.

ANAM’s chair John Daley expressed his delight, saying “Peter Elliott brings a deep appreciation of the significance of this wonderful building and the expertise to creatively unlock its potential for people today and in the future”.

“Peter Elliott Architects also has the broader vision to locate it at the centre of a precinct, which is possibly one of Melbourne’s best kept urban secrets,” he said.

“We hope that by inter-weaving our project with the City of Port Phillip works to repair and update the building’s structure and basic functions, we can together deliver real value to the local Port Phillip and wider Melbourne communities”.

 

Caption: From left, architect Peter Elliott, City of Port Phillip Mayor Heather Cunsolo and Australian National Academy of Music chair John Daley. Photo: ANAM.

 

Peter Elliott Architects’ founding director and design leader Peter Elliott said his firm shared ANAM’s vision and acknowledged the town hall, designed by architect Charles Webb, was “one of Melbourne’s architectural jewels”.

“It is a rare privilege to be engaged with such a building,” he said.

 

We believe that a restored and renewed Town Hall will be quite unlike any other civic building in Melbourne.

 

“I am personally excited by the potential for our project in the town hall to pave the way for the entire Emerald Hill Precinct to be transformed into one of the country’s most important cultural and community precincts in the coming decades.”

“Like ANAM we are mindful too of the importance of this special site for First Nations people and are committed to weaving their stories and narratives through the project.”

Peter Elliott Architects’ projects include the Victorian Parliament Members’ Annexe, the Francis Ormond Building and former Magistrate’s Court (RMIT), Ian Potter Centre for the Performing Arts (Monash University) and Tolarno Galleries.

Port Phillip Mayor Heather Cunsolo said, “The much-loved South Melbourne Town Hall will soon come to life with the recent appointment of Peter Elliott Architects by ANAM, working closely with our Council to deliver this significant and much awaited project.”

Construction for the project is expected to finish in 2025, with ANAM planning to “return home” in 2026.

ANAM is in talks with the Victorian and Federal Governments, as well as Australian philanthropists regarding its vision. •

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