2015 Retrospective

2015 has been another huge year for architecture in Victoria. With Christmas fast approaching, it is time to look back at the highlights from the blog over the year that has been.

The year began with an exclusive report on the East West Link Development Plans and parts of the Property Impact Report which had been acquired through a freedom of information process. This was the beginning of a series of documents released throughout the year which revealed the serious shortcomings of this highly damaging infrastructure proposal. Most recently both the Victorian Auditor General and the Federal Auditor General also released findings regarding the poor decision making and financial mismanagement at the political level.

Approved cross sections without dimensions or context

Approved East West Link cross sections


Fortunately for Melbourne, the Andrews Government stood by their promise to scrap the project. The controversial move cost the taxpayer $780 Million, but saved the wastage of 55 cents in every dollar of the $22.8 Billion total project cost. The choice was effectively to waste either $780 Million or $12.54 Billion, a concept not readily accepted by those pushing for the toll road.

In a final update on this project for the year, the planning decision has now been annulled and the heritage protection on Royal Park has been strengthened through the removal of the East West Link exemption on The Victorian Heritage Register. In the future for a Government to push through an East West Link it will need a complete new planning process and most likely a new design which will avoid works in Royal Park.

If 2014 was dominated by the rise and fall of East West Link, 2015 was undoubtedly dominated by the ongoing debate around the design of apartments. There were a series of articles around this issue, as the State Government began their discussion process. Take a look back at what was said in the two part post Victoria’s Push for Better Apartments

Proposed design of the Nightingale Apartments by Breathe Architecture

Proposed design of the Nightingale Apartments by Breathe Architecture

As far as apartments go, no other proposed building has been discussed nearly as much as the Nightingale Apartments in Brunswick. This brilliant initiative of Jeremy Mcleod of Breathe Architects has been a lightning rod for discussion on apartment procurement, car parking requirements and the VCAT planning system. In February the council approved the go ahead of this vitally important project. At the time it was hailed as fantastic decision that would be the first in a series of Nightingale projects. Unfortunately, this was later challenged by a disgruntled neighbour who took the decision to VCAT for review. This appeal ended in a highly controversial and unexpected refusal of the planning permit due to the proposal to not provide car parking spaces. It is understood the proposed design has now been revised to include three car spaces and is now back in the council process. No doubt this story will continue in 2016.

2015 also brought with it the 100th post of The Red and Black Architect. In a star filled post contributions were made by over a dozen extraordinary individuals from Government, media and architecture practice.  To see which Melbourne building is Peter Hitchener’s   favorite, or to see how Clay Lucas thinks Melbourne should evolve, take a look back here

Take a look back at the Red+Black in the USA here

The new building of the year in Victoria would have to be the Library and Heritage Centre by ARM Architecture. If you want to see first-hand what a 21st century library does and how important quality public architecture is then make sure to put in on your summer visiting list. If a physical visit is not possible, you take a look back the Red+Black Review of the library here

The library as seen from the Geelong Train StationThe year was topped off with some high profile interviews of some of the biggest players in Melbourne’s built environment. These exclusive interviews with Rob McGauran on Fishermans Bend, Jill Garner – the Victorian Government Architect and Richard Wynne – Victoria’s Planning Minister provided some interesting insight into where Melbourne is going as a city. Many thanks to all of them for giving up their time for these interview.

Michael Smith and Richard Wynne

Michael Smith and Richard Wynne


Finally there are two important people to thank. To Olivia and Sonia, your unwavering support is truly appreciated.

2016 promises to be another massive year in architecture and the built environment.

Thanks for reading

Architecture is for Everyone


About Michael Smith

Architect and Director of Atelier Red + Black based in Melbourne, Australia
This entry was posted in all posts, East West Link, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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