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Bunjil Place a boon for Melbourne's south east

I tend to think Melbourne's outer suburbs are bereft of any great substance, in fact they should be avoided where possible… it's one of the reasons why Urban Melbourne came to be and why we champion higher density living closer to the city's heart.

There are of course exceptions to the rule, and today's exception is a momentous one at that.

A construction tender is now open for Bunjil Place, City of Casey's initiative to create "A unique cultural, community and civic facility that will be a centerpiece for Melbourne’s south eastern suburbs". As one of the largest projects undertaken by a local government in Australia, Bunjil Place has a budget of $125 million and a target of 1 million annual visitors upon completion.

With Brookfield Multiplex, Leighton Contractors, Lend Lease and Probuild shortlisted during mid 2015, the successful contractor is set to be revealed later in the year with works to begin in earnest before the new year in order to meet a late 2017 opening date.

A new drawcard for Melbourne's south eastern suburbs. Image courtesy bunjilplace.com.au

Subject to a two-stage design competition, Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp were chosen as project architect for the 22,000sqm mixed-use community-based facility. According to City of Casey, Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp were able to incorporate a number of Council's objectives into the design, which includes:

  • A community, cultural and civic heart
  • An identity that reflects community values
  • Telling the story of our community and celebrates our history and diversity
  • A strong inclusive, inviting and engaging public plaza
  • An activated and engaging space for events and informal meetings
  • Complementary surrounding facilities
  • A truly unique design that instils pride and ownership by the community
  • A visible and transparent connection with Council
  • Harness emerging technologies and digital art forms

Bunjil Place will include a purpose-built 800 seat theatre, multi-purpose exhibition space, regional art gallery, community library, community plaza and new Council Chambers.

Cutaway of the new Casey library component. Image courtesy bunjilplace.com.au

Comment

You must hand it to City of Casey for having the foresight and endeavour to bring to fruition a facility such as Bunjil Place. From conception to completion, the project would have spanned the best part of five years.

It's unfathomable to think that a facility such as Bunjil Place would be built in certain other parts of outer Melbourne, yet it could be argued this is exactly what's required. For instance would Wyndham City Council contemplate an equivalent community asset on such a scale?

Add Cranbourne's Royal Botanic Gardens to the mix and City of Casey will soon enough sport two world class attractions that not only serve the immediate community, but draw in users/visitors from elsewhere. Hats off to City of Casey.

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