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Brunswick to get state-of-the-art cultural and community hub

06 Apr 2022

Council will transform the old school building and heritage house at 33 Saxon Street, Brunswick, into welcoming and affordable spaces for creatives, artists and the Brunswick community.    

The site is well known to many as Siteworks – a vibrant arts and community space that is also home to leading First Nations contemporary art gallery Blak Dot. 

This multi-million dollar redevelopment is being designed by Kennedy Nolan Architects who are refining Council’s recently adopted concept plan and developing a detailed design plan providing about 3,500sqm of floorspace. 

A planning permit application was lodged in late March 2022, and the Public Notice period, inviting submissions, will open in the coming weeks. 

Melbourne-based creative team These Are The Projects We Do Together currently manage and site and will continue as the Precinct Manager at the redeveloped site. 

 Blak Dot Gallery will return as operators of the new First Nations gallery to be built on site.  

These Are The Projects We Do Together and Blak Dot’s temporary activation of the site over the last few years have been much-loved components of the Brunswick Design District and Civic and Cultural Precinct, but the buildings are old and will be improved, providing greater benefits to the community.   

Following community consultation in late 2021, the key benefits of the redevelopment include: 

  • Large public open space areas (over 2,500sqm) for outdoor events, community recreation and creative activities. 
  • A new creative and community-use facility that will house multipurpose community rooms, Maternal and Child Health facilities, and space for the commercial end of the creative industries. 
  • Creative production spaces and a gallery exhibition space that will be available for artists and creative organisations at affordable rates. 
  • Space for a hospitality operator to run a small café. 
  • Improved connection and access between the site and Brunswick Baths. 

A long-term investment in the future of culture and creativity in Brunswick, 33 Saxon Street will provide affordable spaces for creative people right along the spectrum from experimental to commercial, in the heart of the State designated Brunswick Design District.  

 Construction will begin in 2023 and the project is expected to be completed by 2024.  

Mayor, Councillor Mark Riley said “We have a long and proud history of being the location of choice for prominent artists. This redevelopment will create much-needed space and opportunity for artists, community members and creative industries in Brunswick. It will be a welcoming, socially inclusive space that celebrates Merri-bek’s diversity, creativity and distinct culture.”  

Director of Architecture at Kennedy Nolan Architects, Victoria Reeves said “The institutions on this site currently, Siteworks and BlakDot, operate with a remarkable culture of generosity and openness to the community. As we design the buildings and spaces in between for a new era on this site, we’re very aware to continue this legacy.” 

Co-director of These Are The Projects We Do Together, Millie Cattlin said “33 Saxon Street has been a delight and honour to manage and program over the past 6 years and we are thrilled with the vision and commitment Council and the community has brought to the redevelopment.” 

Owner/Curator of Blak Dot Gallery, Kimba Thompson said “As Siteworks and Blak Dot undergo redevelopment in the coming year, we look forward to working alongside Merri-bek City Council and Siteworks’ new management team in a meaningful way to ensure that 33 Saxon Street will continue to be a shared dedicated community meeting place. We hope that in the future, the gallery, and site will continue to grow with all our communities.”