RBA have provided preliminary advice on various heritage issues raised by the proposed redevelopment of the Faculty of Architecture, Building & Planning (FABP) and adjacent Old Commerce Building on the main Parkville campus at the University of Melbourne.

Several elements to be retained in the proposal, include part of the west elevation of the Old Commerce Building (below) which incorporates the original façade of the Bank of New South Wales. The bank was designed by eminent architect, Joseph Reed and construction began in 1856. In late 1932, it was announced by the directors of the bank that the façade was to be removed in sections from its original Collins Street location, to the University of Melbourne where it was re-erected.

Other elements include the Japanese Room, based on the Shoin style of the 17th century and designed by Japanese architect, Professor Shigeru Yura, who lectured in the faculty from 1963-65. The room was constructed within the existing Architecture building and funded largely with the support of the Melbourne Japanese community. Yura also designed the Japanese garden near the northern end of the concourse.

The above image of the Japanese room is sourced from Treasures: Highlights of the Cultural Collections of the University of Melbourne, C McAuliffe & P Yule.

A Conservation Management Plan (CMP) is being developed by RBA for the Japanese Room. This is to better understand the heritage values and cultural significance, to formulate a dedicated conservation policy and develop preliminary recommendations for the conservation of the culturally significant fabric of the Japanese Room. An action plan for the dismantling, storage and reinstatement of the room in a proposed new faculty building is also being developed.

14 March 2012

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