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Luke Jarvis
In Conversation

Congratulations on the green light for Ballarat GovHub! Tell us a bit about how your career has led you to this point.

I’ve been interested in the built environment from an early age. My family home had been designed based on good passive design principles – it was through a fascination with this that I knew I wanted to study architecture and learn about all that good design seeks to offer. After graduating from university, I realised that the skills I learned could be a powerful tool in helping people improve the conditions of their surroundings, and therefore the quality of their lives.

Living and working in London for 10 years (for multi-disciplinary firm Arup Associates) I’ve been fortunate to work on projects in many parts of the world – from the British Sky Broadcasting Headquarters in London to a new National Stadium for Saudi Arabia. But I’ve always had the aspiration to work on a significant project in my home town. The Ballarat GovHub is a remarkable opportunity to be involved with a project that is a great marker of civic value. 

What aspect of the GovHub are you most proud of?

We’ve developed a scheme that integrates with the local community – that embodies their stories and values while recognising the unique history of the site and its place in Ballarat.

I remember the Civic Hall once being part of a highly active precinct that saw Mair Street bustling, with people flowing out of the hall and lining the streets. Our aim is to recreate the lively precinct with the GovHub to become the new civic heart of the city. The design response draws upon and shares a strong sense of materiality from the civic hall – the warmth and texture of the masonry is part of the welcoming gesture. The podium and building edge exposes activity and the life of the building.

 

How will the GovHub benefit the local community?

As a resident who lives just a short walk from the site, I’m passionate about creating a high-quality outcome for the community.

Each aspect of the new GovHub plays a role in connecting the civic and community spaces to the public realm. There’s the conservatory, which is a landscaped community space in the tradition of the botanical gardens of Ballarat. It’s an important arrival and orientation space within the precinct. The new hall is an informal meeting space that forms an important connection between the historical and cultural distinctions that exist on the site. The sequence of public spaces encourage a series of informal circulation routes – a meander through the site.

I like the idea that the focus of the precinct is open space. The people that are there for the many and various activities themselves become the centre of attraction.

 

Why do you live in Ballarat?

Melbourne is an amazing city, and my time living in Melbourne has always been in the city or neighbouring suburbs. But with a young family, space is a necessity. The outer suburbs of Melbourne have always been foreign to me, so my home town of Ballarat – with family, friends and access to good schools and healthcare – was an easy choice.

Ballarat is a vibrant city that is close to Melbourne and Geelong. The train journey to Melbourne is a little over an hour, which is comparable to travel times from the outer suburbs of Melbourne.

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