The Adelaide Skyline

An occasional commentary on building construction around Adelaide and South Australia

Food for Thought

Here is a Question which follows on from the previous article

What makes this building and not that one worthy of heritage restoration?

A series of articles was  published in Messenger Newspapers  in December about South Australian Heritage - its importance and its viabililty.

Some articles extolled the value of the past, others sounded a note of warning about relying too much on the past and perhaps hampering development.

Another debate forms around what makes a building worthy of consideration as a heritage listed building.

The most obvious is age, type of construction, its condition and therefore cost,  what part did it play in history, who lived there, its uniqueness?

Not so obvious is..
Can it be preserved?
Have we got the skills to maintain and restore these buildings?
Do we have the craftsmen?
and more importantly
Do we have another generation ready to take over from the current small band of artisans?

So the question we started with about the building and its worthiness  for preservation is now being overshadowed by Can we do it and For how much longer?

Our greatest concern is the diminishing pool of tradesmen with suitable skill sets to perform the intricate work required to restore and preserve these buildings of significance.

With the advent of computerization, reluctance for the building industry to adopt technological advances and introduction of new modular forms of construction, suitable imparting of the acquired skill sets of traditional tradesmen is diminishing rapidly.

This coupled with the cost of construction being an impediment to development and the time cost of money becoming increasingly important, there is a strong drive to reduce construction time frames and hence the emphasis on modular forms of construction.

This emphasis has shifted the focus of training away from those traditional skills required for heritage construction.

As some of the works required in these traditional skill sets are physical and demanding there is also a reluctance for new entrants into the industry to adopt these career paths.

Sometimes we need to look back to see where we have been to determine where we should be heading.

We will touch on these matters in future articles but would welcome your comments.

Our pages on Built Heritage illustrate the types of skills needed for these restoration projects

Here are a couple of references

We will add more as we develop the topic.

Importance of Heritage

South Australia is part of a very old land mass, but with very young construction history. Not for us the grandeur of London’s Cathedrals and Castles, but in our own way, the relatively short history of European footprints has created graceful construction icons.  As is our way we do not see the value of some things until they are gone and only photography allows us to see what is lost. The State Library has a wealth of these old images.

2018 is the 40th anniversary of the proclamation of the South Australian Heritage Act which came about as a result of the fight to save Edmund Wright House, and has played its part in rescuing construction treasures since. In an article in the Barossa  Herald on July 11, 2018, Keith Conlon, a former chair of the Heritage Council said ..’Maintaining the state’s heritage is so important to the South Australian community, because these are the places that tell us who we are, and if we lose them, they are gone forever.”

There are some 2200 of these treasures currently listed. Preserving this history for future generations will give our future citizens a glimpse of life in the old days. In this Click and Go generation, a grounding of family history and their contribution to the fabric of the state’s history is vital. Our building heritage is a visual reminder of that.
For further reading, see these references below

Barossa Herald article

Adelaide Now article on confusing  heritage laws



Reduce, Repurpose, Sustain

Recent newspaper articles and TV programs have been making much of the benefits to  the planet and our living standards if we recycle as much waste as possible. This applies to almost everything we produce and use. Re-purposing and re-using cuts  down on waste and landfill, thus adding to our own sustainability

Just as a café on a beach can be furnished from second hand furniture and crockery – with nothing matching, yet still producing great baked items and a charming atmosphere, so we can look beyond the outer layers and see the inner beauty of reclaimed items and re-use them.

So what happens to waste in the construction industry? states that construction and demolition wastes can make up of 40% of our waste sent to landfill! Demolition and rebuilding produces a lot of waste, upgrading living areas, replanting gardens add to it. Salvaging bricks, wood, cupboard units, piping  and even plants actually makes a lot of sense and can reduce your re-building costs on a domestic level.

The following link relates to house demolitions and there is a wealth of ideas to consider.    
With so many buildings being demolished to make way for newer and perhaps better structures, it should be of concern to all. Should we be talking of de-construction instead. Not just at a house level, but what about the bigger end of town? What happens to all the fittings? the plumbing? the steel frames? the flooring? Who re-uses these items? Can they be re-purposed?

One business is currently practising re-purposing with the outfitting of hot desk co-worker spaces in Flinders St, Adelaide. Distressed timber floorboards have been kept in situ, some units have been re-purposed from other sites. Brimblecombe Builders have a brief to use new age retro in the fitting out of these spaces in the Wotso development and is creating economically sustainable rustic vibrant work places.

Brimblecombe has also been involved with many re-purposing projects from turning an old winery into a school tech studies area and an old police station into a new set of offices, and there are plenty of other examples....  in heritage projects where new life has been breathed into older buildings while still maintaining the integrity and preservation of the original building fabric.

A recent article in Adelaide Now The Advertiser 31 May 2018  gave me a reason to pause and think about our state heritage.

Here is a small excerpt.

State heritage-listed properties affected by State Government cuts to grant funding, says former head of SA Heritage Council

PROTECTION of the state’s most significant buildings has been “significantly impacted” because of State Government funding cuts, the former chair of the state’s heritage council has warned.

Judith Carr has also estimated that more than $2 million a year in private investment towards protecting heritage buildings has been lost due to the government scrapping two key programs that -subsidized- heritage restoration.
Her concerns were raised in a February letter to the new SA Heritage Council, headed by Keith Conlon, which has the power to enter buildings on the State Heritage Register.
Mrs Carr, who stepped down from her three-year term in April, said there were no grants available to help conserve and “activate” state heritage-listed places aside from those provided by Adelaide City Council, which budgets $1 million for ratepayers of city-based heritage-listed properties.

What a lot of South Australia’s history and character may be lost with this reduction!

If these buildings are no longer sustainable in their current form through lack of funds, then perhaps commercially repurposing them could protect our heritage and architectural character.

Looking around Adelaide I see most notably the Treasury Buildings repurposed as the Medina Hotel as a great example of preservation and private investment. The Law Courts is another fine example of repurposing, turning a heritage retail building into a magnificent public building. (Brimblecombe Builders worked on the interior joinery here.)

At Brimblecombe Builders, we have worked on the preservation of old buildings, including the façade and roof of Government House, restoration of the heritage veranda at Salvation Army headquarters in Florence Street,  Hahndorf Academy building, Terowie Railway station just to mention a few.

We have also repurposed heritage buildings too, turning the old Penfolds Winery building into a new Technical Studies Area for Temple Christian College. Another example is the conversion of the old Unley Police Station into new headquarters for St John Ambulance SA.

Other notable examples of preservation and or repurposing are the Port Adelaide and Semaphore Council buildings, Harts Mill and the Maritime Museum.

It is important that we keep in touch with our past, and preservation and or repurposing old buildings is one way. For the preservation or preserving  of Adelaide's or South Australia's heritage buildings, consider consulting Brimblecombe Builders.

Female friendly changing rooms for sportswomen

It seems amazing that girls and women in sport are being held back for the want of a female friendly change-room environment.

Yet this is what has been reported in various articles in the press and on TV this February.  And it coincides with the release of the Stage 4 of the Female Friendly Facilities initiative of the South Australian State Government and the Office of Recreation and Sport.

Historically, changerooms for footballers and cricketers were only designed for Men's sporting teams as it wasn't envisaged that women would play these team sports.

Changerooms were available for some girls only sports, but with the growth of AFLW, and Womens cricket, the need for previously male dominated sports to share or provide separate female friendly change-rooms facilities is becoming more urgent. Grants have been made recently to 2 SANFL clubs for this purpose.

Brimblecombe Builders support this initiative and have had considerable experience in building changerooms for a gymnasium, golf club, restoration and refurbishing of Park 10, new clubhouse with changerooms for a football club, and other amenities.

For building construction Adelaide - think Brimblecombe Builders!