South Melbourne, Victoria
In progress (2023)
City of Port Phillip Council
South Melbourne Town Hall - Renewal & Upgrade Project

A heritage gem in the heart of the community


“Our overall goal for this project is to revitalise South Melbourne Town Hall and return it to the Community’s heart.”

South Melbourne Town Hall (SMTH), previously known as Emerald Hill Town Hall, is a state-significant heritage building that has stood proudly in Melbourne's Port Phillip municipality for over 140 years. Designed by Charles Webb, one of the leading architects of the 19th century, SMTH is a stunning example of Victorian Academic Classical architecture with French Second Empire influences. The interior was remodelled in 1930, incorporating blackwood panelling and an acoustically refurbished auditorium with additional ventilation.

However, due to safety hazards, the building currently sits vacant. NBRS has been commissioned to lead the renewal and upgrade of the South Melbourne Town Hall to provide community facilities and high-level leasing opportunities to ensure the iconic structure's ongoing use and economic viability. NBRS Heritage deeply understands the challenges and opportunities associated with conserving and reusing historic buildings. The NBRS team has worked closely with the City of Port Phillip to develop a comprehensive plan for the restoration.

Significant structural issues are uncovered that require immediate attention following a series of investigations. Further electrical, fire and mechanical investigations have uncovered various upgrades and remedial work. NBRS will provide head consultant services with a team of specialist sub-consultants to ensure all aspects of the project brief are expertly delivered. NBRS provides a depth of in-house heritage expertise reinforced by additional specialist consultants to address the building's required conservation, repair and sympathetic modification to achieve compliance and be suitable for contemporary use.

NBRS has collaborated with the City of Port Phillip and its stakeholder organisations to establish the site's key vision, drivers, and parameters. With thorough site investigation and research, we have gained an intricate knowledge of the building’s historical development and anatomy to inform opportunities and constraints for efficient re-use and reservicing accurately. During the project, we will continue to produce high-impact, informative reports, graphics, and digital material to inform the Council, community and stakeholders of the project.

The proposed project will address the structural and safety concerns that have led to the closure of the building. It will also include a number of other improvements, such as the installation of a new heating and cooling system, the refurbishment of the auditorium, and the creation of new public spaces.

The renewal will safeguard this important heritage asset, revitalise the building, and return it to its rightful place as the heart of the South Melbourne community. The renewal of SMTH is a major undertaking, but it is one that is essential to the future of this important heritage building and the community it serves.

Contact Us
Samantha Polkinghorne
Samantha Polkinghorne
Chairwoman | Director | Head of Heritage