Heritage Structures

11 August 2017

A culturally important element of Melbourne’s building fabric and aesthetic is the familiar and reassuring presence of the heritage structures we either grew up with or learned to love.

The gold rush boom period from the 1880’s in particular delivered for Melbourne a number of significant public buildings.

Irwinconsult have had the privilege of roles on a large number of these to help with both preservation and adaptation to a modern function.

At all times in working with the existing structures, our structural engineers follow a philosophy of following precedent in preference to code. Many of the existing structures cannot be proven to comply with current design codes. However, rather than using this as a reason to recommend unnecessary strengthening or overly conservative modifications, we take the approach of studying the performance of the existing structures as a precedent for their ongoing performance. We also look at what interventions may be beneficial to protecting those assets so that they are durable for many more decades.

From a Building Services perspective, the introduction of modern infrastructure and technologies is essential to ensure that these buildings continue to be used rather than just exist as relics from our past. This need to be done in a way that minimises both the impact on the heritage fabric and any potential deleterious effect from a change in environmental conditions.

Sympathetic solutions to Fire Protection, HVAC, lighting and modern sanitary facilities typically seek to be inconspicuous or obviously independent from the original building.

The Royal Exhibition Buildings, State Library of Victoria, The Hotel Windsor, Customs House Immigration Museum and Parliament House are all examples of the iconic structures that Melburnians see as representative of both this exciting part of our history and what we love about our city today.


The Hotel Windsor

The early 20th century saw the development of other well-known structures such as the Shrine of Remembrance, the Palais Theatre, the Capitol Theatre and Manchester Unity Building to name a few of those we have worked on in recent years.

Galleries of Remembrance

We are justifiably proud of the role we have had on projects associated with these buildings.

We are also equally proud of the contribution our own practice made to Melbourne’s heritage in the post WW2 era.

Our founders and their successors delivered the Olympic Pool, Sidney Myer Music Bowl, and Academy of Science Dome in the 1950’s, all recognisable and loved facilities.

Melbourne Olympic Pool

The 1960’s and 1970’s saw us contribute with the development of currently less loved, but still important brutalist structures such as the MLC, The Royal Tennis Club, Canberra School of Music and the beginnings of Melbourne’s high rise city with the BHP building at 140 William Street and State Bank Building at 385 Bourke Street.


140 William Street

We relish the opportunity to continue to work on these important buildings from our past and look forward to a future where our recent and current projects are similarly recognised as a part of Melbourne’s architectural pedigree.

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