Restoring Life to Pentridge – 2016 Year in Review
There are few who would argue that 2016 has been a big year. From politics to popular culture, transformation has been in evidence everywhere. It’s certainly been the case in Coburg, where the iconic Pentridge has had new life breathed into it through the return of community events to the spaces behind its bluestone walls, the commencement of some big restoration projects, and exciting announcements about the future of the precinct as a whole.
As such, we thought it would be worthwhile to recap just how busy things have been at Pentridge, and reflect on just how far we’ve come. If 2016 is anything to go by, 2017 will be positively bursting!
Over 4,000 people attended our first Community Open Day in May, to partake in free, guided tours telling the stories of the past and offering glimpses into the future of this once dormant heritage site. Food trucks, musicians and family activities gave us a window into what the community spaces we have planned for Pentridge looks set to become, and the Annex became home to the wonderful photographic exhibition ‘Pentridge Unlocked’. It was a real thrill to see so many people showing their interest and support for the project.
Throughout the year, work progressed quickly on the Horizon project, with the unique apartment complex complementing the existing aesthetic of Pentridge while evolving the space into an inviting, livable area for future generations. As Shayher Group’s first new addition to the Pentridge site, we’re excited by the evolution it promises, with the open grounds due to be transformed into a vibrant community piazza complemented by cafes, restaurants and offices. Residents are all set to inhabit their new homes in early 2017, and we can’t wait to meet them!
A theme of continuing importance for the community and Shayher Group is the preservation of heritage. That’s why we turned to Bryce Raworth, master heritage consultants, in the drafting of an in-depth Heritage Conservation Plan. Part of the Pentridge Masterplan, it takes into account preservation and restoration concerns to assist in recommendations for any future change. Bryce Raworth’s firm expressed their excitement about the project, which is one of the foremost examples of heritage-focused adaptive reuse currently underway in the country.
Speaking of restoration, major works commenced mid-year with a $2 million restoration of key heritage assets. Leading heritage builders JBM Group has overseen some sterling work over the last few months, such as the restoration of A and H Division roof areas to their original glory, including the entire light tower and weathervane – all accurate to historical records and accounts. With a continued commitment to ensuring the use of traditional materials and methods, work is presently underway on the restoration of six guard towers and the historic rock-breaking yards.
There were also some major announcements to reflect upon in the latter half of the year, indicating the degree of interest in the Pentridge site and the shared commitment on the part of countless people to bring something of lasting value to the inner North. In August, Shayher Group together with TFE Hotels, and Cox Architecture are set to bring a 120-room Adina Apartment Hotel to Coburg. Preliminary designs showcase a contemporary style that protects and is sensitive to the historic aspects of the site – including the original cells and bluestone facades.
Another big reveal was Palace Cinema’s announcement in September of a 15-screen cinema, set to become part of the boutique shopping precinct envisaged in the site’s Masterplan. This is sure to help bring the vision of a buzzing urban village to life, creating an authentic place for Melbourne’s arts and cultural communities to associate around. Designed with the Buchan Group, construction on the precinct is scheduled to commence in 2017, with the cinema due to open its doors in mid 2019.
The community piazza began to take shape as well, with new renders released in November offering the first vision of its evolution into a central meeting point for Coburg locals and the community at large. Landscaped gardens, alfresco dining and modern bars and shops will complement the piazza space, which will offer an ideal backdrop to future events such as this year’s successful Latin Spring Festival, held at the Pentridge site in September. The site and surrounds will be sensitively brought to life by the design brilliance of Aspect Studios, and Sue Hodges Productions, offering ‘heritage interpretation hot spots, playful dry and wet landscapes, community and kitchen gardens, small serene spaces for solitude contrasted with open vibrant places for events’.
Finally, and most importantly, 2016 has seen sustained input from and dialogue with the residents of Coburg. The value of our ongoing discussions with parties such as Moreland Council, the Coburg Historical Society, the National Trust of Victoria and the Residents’ Community Group is beyond measure, and has really driven home just how beloved the area – and the Pentridge site – really is.
In fact, we’ve been humbled by the community response over the last year. We’ve been thrilled by the attendances at events like our Open Day, and encouraged by the desire to see what’s happening ‘done right’. Clearly, Pentridge holds a unique place in the minds and hearts of the population.
And that’s really the driver behind so much of what we’re trying to do – to honour not just the buildings we’ve been privileged to work with, but also to champion the qualities of Coburg. After all, a place is nothing without people to inhabit and celebrate it, a community to give it breath!
And the best part? We’re only just beginning, with more exciting announcements to make in the coming months. So thank you for an amazing year, Coburg. Here’s to you, and to Pentridge in 2017!