Spring has sprung

Spring has sprung
Roses at the Cottage

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

The newly refurbished Hamer Hall

Melbourne enjoys being the Cultural Capital of Australia. And now we have good reason to celebrate. Crossing the Yarra River from the city along the tree-lined St Kilda Road boulevard one first comes upon Hamer Hall, then its next door neighbour the Arts Centre (with the famed spire) and then the National Gallery of Victoria and finally the Victorian College of the Arts. To have envisioned this wonderful precinct was - dare I say - visionary.
The 'round' Hamer Hall with the Arts Centre spire in the distance

The Arts Centre was meant to cost $24 million and open in 1977. Suffice to say that didn't happen (what is it about public works that are always over budget and never completed on time). Its eventual cost was - wait for it - $225 million - of our taxpayers money.

Designed by local architect Roy Grounds, who also designed the National Gallery of Victoria, the Arts Centre precinct which is so familiar to us all today was first mooted in 1942 by Sir Keith Murdoch (father of the infamous Rupert and more importantly the husband of the much loved and quite remarkable philanthropist Dame Elisabeth Murdoch - born 8 February 1909 and still going strong).
Dame Elisabeth Murdoch (The Age)

Part of the problem with the original build was the nightmare that the builders encountered along the way - it was built on top of an old river bed on acidic silt which comprised the first 40 metres before bedrock was reached - and that was before the militant unions saw it as an opportunity to increase the degree of difficulty off the stratosphere.

Fortunately the then Premier of Victoria - Rupert Hamer (later Sir) held the dream. He was rewarded with a finished building in 1982 and then finally - sadly after his death - it was renamed Hamer Hall in 2004.

But what a site and what a Concert Hall it was when it finally opened to a firework display which is still remembered. The interior was designed by our very own dual Oscar winner John Truscott (Camelot).

Although right next to the 'mighty' Yarra River it had always turned its back on it. Closed for the last 2 years for a huge renovation costing a mere $138.5 million, Hamer Hall has re-opened its doors with some fanfare but no fireworks. It now 'welcomes' the river with a promenade, restaurants and vibrant public spaces open from breakfast till late... it has enlivened the precinct. Today it is light and bright - a huge change to an underground concert hall with no natural light in the public areas. John Truscott's design has been upgraded and the acoustics (always a problem) have improved dramatically. And I was thrilled to learn that the women's toilets have increased from 35 to 67!
Digital image of the inside of the new Hamer Hall

I encourage you to visit, see a concert, take a tour and enjoy the precinct. Learn why we Melburnians are thrilled with the result.

Bowen Cottage client comment: We've fallen in love with the cottage

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