Concept designs have been released for a major government office precinct in Ballarat. Led by Development Victoria and designed by John Wardle Architects, the new GovHub site in Ballarat CBD will be home to up to 1,000 government employees on the site that currently houses the city’s Civic Hall and public library.

John Wardle Architects’ initial designs reveal a five-storey office building and glass conservatory, which will be complemented by a mix of public and retail space along an activated ground floor. The details of this latter public space have yet to be confirmed, and will be “refined” as the design progresses.

“This [ground-floor] space, together with the new conservatory, might be used for a café/bar, gallery space, live music venue or gathering space,” says Development Victoria.

The government office building has been revealed as a five-storey, shed-shaped building with an irregular pitched roof. Strong visual connections to Ballarat CBD will be accommodated through the insertion of large windows that cover the façade on the south side.

To make way for the new build, the existing lower hall – which is “in poor condition” and would require “significant work” to modify and refurbish – will be demolished in accordance with the Ballarat City Council’s approved masterplan.

“A reconstructed lower hall space equivalent to the existing lower hall in volume is a key feature of the GovHub design,” says Development Victoria.

“Bricks from the existing lower hall may be used in constructing the new lower hall. Ballarat City Council’s concept design of the redevelopment of Civic Hall will see the dressing rooms provided in the space underneath the stage in the existing Civic Hall.

“The Civic Hall concept plan also provides two, separately usable, spaces of similar size to the lower hall.”

The GovHub building will be connected to the new Civic Hall and conservatory buildings by a civic plaza that will be constructed along the Mair Street frontage. The conservatory will act as the key entry point to the Mair Street building.

“The GovHub will be connected to Civic Hall through the new conservatory and reconstructed lower hall space,” says Development Victoria. “There will be a strong visual connection to the Civic Hall in the foyer of the GovHub through the reconstructed lower hall, views to the Civic Hall and the continuation of brick work through the building.”

Although John Wardle Architects have been engaged to create a site-wide response to Ballarat City Council’s original masterplan, the project will be progressed in close consultation with both council and the Civic Hall architects, Baumgart Clarke Architects.

Construction on the GovHub precinct is scheduled to begin in late 2018, with completion anticipated for 2020. John Wardle Architects’ concept designs can be viewed here.