Statement of Significance
What is significant?
Heidelberg Town Hall was officially opened in April 1937. The former Shire of Heidelberg experienced rapid suburbanisation during the 1930s and the City of Heidelberg was proclaimed in 1934. The increased population and expanded range of municipal services and responsibilities determined the need for a large civic centre that could provide extensive office space for Council staff, as well as Council chambers and a public hall.
Two architectural firms, Peck & Kemter and AC Leith & Bartlett were appointed in association to design the new civic centre. Bartlett had recently returned from overseas where he was greatly influenced by recent architecture in Europe. The City of Heidelberg was desirous of a progressive modern image. Externally the design owes much to the seminal Hilversum Town Hall in the Netherlands designed by Willem Dudok and constructed between 1924 and 1931. The interior shows the influence of Art Deco design.
Built by local contractor G S Gay, Heidelberg Town Hall stands at the highest point of Ivanhoe as an imposingly monumental building. The different functions of offices and auditorium are clearly expressed in the simple block-like masses which are arranged asymmetrically, separated by the 28 metres clock tower. The building is faced with textured buff brickwork with a minimum of applied decorative detail. Vertical accents are provided to the principal elevation not only by the clocktower but also by the massive three-quarter height triplet of door and window openings to the hall. The portico added in 1994 attempted a contextual solution but unfortunately now partially obscures this important element.
The auditorium, now known as the Great Hall, achieves a very wide clear span by incorporating an innovative welded steel frame in its structure.The parquetry floor, capable of seating 1,000 people, is flanked by vestibules for lounge seating. Above the vestibules are arcades with curved balconies overlooking the auditorium. Internally the building makes extensive use of Australian native timber, principally Queensland maple. Art Deco style fittings include original light fittings and concealed lighting, door furniture, clocks, some original signage, and use of chrome and marble. Although there have been some alterations, there are several spaces within the building which have high integerity, and are a contributory part of the distinctive styling of the building and which assist in an understanding of the responsibilities of local government in Victoria in the 1930s. These are :
-the entrance to the Municipal offices and the stair lobby on the ground and first floor;
-the Council Chamber;
-the Mayors Room;
-the first floor hallway connecting the stair lobby and serving the Council chamber, adjoining offices and the Withers room;
-the Withers Room;
-the whole of the Town Hall including the entrance foyer, lounges and assoicated service rooms and stairways;
-the Streeton Room;
-the Conder Room (note that the original west face-brick external wall is extant);
-the northern staircase and associated lobbies serving the Streeton and Conder rooms including the phone box;
A substantial addition creating office space was added to the south of the building in the early 1970s.
The building won the Royal Victorian Institute of Architects Street Architecture medal in 1939. The RAIA commented on the strong character of the building and commended the texture and colour of the brick elevations.
How is it significant?
Heidelberg Town Hall is of architectural significance to the State of Victoria.
Why is it significant?
Heidelberg Town Hall is architecturally significant as the greatest and most eloquent expression of the inter-war brick Moderne style in Victoria. It should be compared to MacRobertson's Girls High School in South Melbourne of 1934-5, and to the Church of Christ the Scientist in Camberwell of 1937, which also won an RAIA Street Architecture medal. The choice of brick in the Moderne style sat comfortably within the Melbourne context, of a city with a preference for brick buildings. Heidelberg Town Hall is clearly informed by developments in functionalist Modern architecture in Europe in the late 1920s, and specifically draws on the exemplar of Willem Dudok's Hilversum Town Hall in the Netherlands, and which was Dudok's most important and influential work, an inspiration to several leading architects in Victoria.
The building has landmark qualities for the surrounding suburbs where its location on high ground can be viewed from close and distant locations. The building is historically significant as a confident expression of the expansion of municipal facilities as a consequence of rapid suburban expansion of the municipality in the inter-war period.
HEIDELBERG TOWN HALL - Permit ExemptionsGeneral Conditions: 1. All exempted alterations are to be planned and carried out in a manner which prevents damage to the fabric of the registered place or object. General Conditions: 2. Should it become apparent during further inspection or the carrying out of works that original or previously hidden or inaccessible details of the place or object are revealed which relate to the significance of the place or object, then the exemption covering such works shall cease and the Executive Director shall be notified as soon as possible. Note: All archaeological places have the potential to contain significant sub-surface artefacts and other remains. In most cases it will be necessary to obtain approval from Heritage Victoria before the undertaking any works that have a significant sub-surface component. General Conditions: 3. If there is a conservation policy and plan approved by the Executive Director, all works shall be in accordance with it. Note: The existence of a Conservation Management Plan or a Heritage Action Plan endorsed by Heritage Victoria provides guidance for the management of the heritage values associated with the site. It may not be necessary to obtain a heritage permit for certain works specified in the management plan. General Conditions: 4. Nothing in this declaration prevents the Executive Director from amending or rescinding all or any of the permit exemptions. General Conditions: 5. Nothing in this declaration exempts owners or their agents from the responsibility to seek relevant planning or building permits from the responsible authorities where applicable. Regular Site Maintenance : The following site maintenance works are permit exempt under section 66 of the Heritage Act 1995, a) regular site maintenance provided the works do not involve the removal or destruction of any significant above-ground features or sub-surface archaeological artefacts or deposits; b) the maintenance of an item to retain its conditions or operation without the removal of or damage to the existing fabric or the introduction of new materials; c) cleaning including the removal of surface deposits, organic growths, or graffiti by the use of low pressure water and natural detergents and mild brushing and scrubbing; d) repairs, conservation and maintenance to plaques, memorials, roads and paths, fences and gates and drainage and irrigation. e) the replacement of existing services such as cabling, plumbing, wiring and fire services that uses existing routes, conduits or voids, and does not involve damage to or the removal of significant fabric. Note: Surface patina which has developed on the fabric may be an important part of the item’s significance and if so needs to be preserved during maintenance and cleaning. Note: Any new materials used for repair must not exacerbate the decay of existing fabric due to chemical incompatibility, obscure existing fabric or limit access to existing fabric for future maintenance. Repair must maximise protection and retention of fabric and include the conservation of existing details or elements. Public Safety and Security : The following public safety and security activities are permit exempt under section 66 of the Heritage Act 1995, a) public safety and security activities provided the works do not involve the removal or destruction of any significant above-ground structures or sub-surface archaeological artefacts or deposits; b) the erection of temporary security fencing, scaffolding, hoardings or surveillance systems to prevent unauthorised access or secure public safety which will not adversely affect significant fabric of the place including archaeological features; c) development including emergency stabilisation necessary to secure safety where a site feature has been irreparably damaged or destabilised and represents a safety risk to its users or the public. Note: Urgent or emergency site works are to be undertaken by an appropriately qualified specialist such as a structural engineer, or other heritage professional. Minor Works : Note: Any Minor Works that in the opinion of the Executive Director will not adversely affect the heritage significance of the place may be exempt from the permit requirements of the Heritage Act. A person proposing to undertake minor works may submit a proposal to the Executive Director. If the Executive Director is satisfied that the proposed works will not adversely affect the heritage values of the site, the applicant may be exempted from the requirement to obtain a heritage permit. If an applicant is uncertain whether a heritage permit is required, it is recommended that the permits co-ordinator be contacted.
Painting in the Original Colour Scheme
Removal of later carpet and replacement with carpet of the original pattern
Reinstament of original joinery where missing
Installation of hooks, nails and other devices for the hanging of paintings,
mirrors and other wall mounted works of art.
Re-wiring provided that all new wiring is fully concealed and any original light switches are retained in-situ.
All interior works to non-original (later than 1937) parts of the building
Repainting of painted surfaces in existing colours
Maintenance and replacement of telecommunication facilities currently located on the roof of the building
Parking signs, line marking of the car park, reconfiguration of the car park, landscaping, direction signs etc
HEIDELBERG TOWN HALL - Permit Exemption Policy
The Ivanhoe Library building to the south of the Town Hall building is not included in the extent of registration and permits are not required for works to this building, including demolition.
The assessment by Falkinger Andronas Pty Ltd in the Conservation Management Plan, Former Heidelberg Town Hall & Municipal Offices (February 2002) of areas of primary, secondary and contributory significance is generally supported and that assessment should guide and inform permit decisions. Prioritised works listed in the Conservation Management Plan are supported. It is evident that some of the colour scheme from the 1980s may not be strictly accurate. If replacement of the schemes is considered, advice should be sought from Heritage Victoria and a permit application may be required. Whilst much of the 1980s work was sympathetic, the restoration works of 2004 adopted a more rigorous conservation approach.
Some of the fittings are clearly not original and documentation of the 1980s work should be checked to assist with future decisions on fittings.
The porte-cochere added in 1994 is an unsympathetic addition that detracts form the original design, and replacement by a more sympathetic structure is encouraged.
"AMF Officers" ShedMoorabool Shire
"AQUA PROFONDA" SIGN, FITZROY POOLVictorian Heritage Register H1687