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16 July 2016 Posted by 

DEFENCE SITE TRANSFORMED

1950s site becomes unit project

BLACKTOWN City Council is working with developers and residents to retain the European heritage aspects of the former Australian Defence Industries site at Ropes Crossing.

An office block opened in 1957 by then Prime Minister Robert Menzies for the Australian Government’s munitions works is to become 25 residential units for the growing Ropes Crossing community.

A new residential building containing 45 units will also be built on the site and Blacktown City Council negotiated an additional $35,000 landscaping works following representation from local residents.

“This shows how residents, council and developers can work together for a negotiated outcome that works for everyone concerned," said Blacktown Mayor Stephen Bali.

“The administration building currently stands as one a few remaining structures of the former ADI site, providing valuable evidence of the Australian Government’s defence response to the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

“We are also working with residents to make sure their concerns are taken into account.

“The ADI site has great heritage and historical significance. It plays an important role in helping us understand the story of Blacktown City – our rich history, our identity and our people.

“We want to retain as many of the original features and integrity as possible, while ensuring it has a dignified and viable future.”

Blacktown City Council has previously supported development applications where a heritage item is restored and its value protected.

In recent years it has approved the adaptive reuse of heritage sites such as the Minchinbury Winery Estate, Southridge House at Eastern Creek, which now stands as a café and Melrose House on the Grantham Estate at Seven Hills.

Mayor Bali says these buildings are examples of council’s commitment to heritage projects.

“Council is dedicated to the conservation, protection and celebration of our City’s heritage and character for future generations to interpret and enjoy,” Mayor Bali said.
Historical Background

By the mid-1950s, with the outbreak of the Korean War, the Australian Government committed itself to new munitions production at the government-owned facilities at St Marys, in an operation known as ‘Project 590.’ In January 1955 the well-known architectural firm Stephenson and Turner was commissioned to prepare plans for a new munitions factory to be completed by 1957.

The Administration Building was the principal office building on the former ADI site – and one of its largest – and housed senior administration and managerial staff.

The building was sited with its major southern frontage addressing the central square of the former Administration Precinct which provided a formal, open forecourt (and parking area) with wide-ranging views to and from the building’s main façade.

The Administration Precinct, which included both the Administration Building and Fire Station and Watch Tower opposite, was a key component of Project 590.
In its size, organisation and architectural quality, the precinct reflected both the importance given to military manufacturing in post-war Australia and the nation’s desire to follow modern European and American examples in Architecture and planning.

The Administration Building is a good representative example of the innovative International Style Modernism of its architects, Stephenson and Turner, who were among the most prominent practitioners of Post-War Functionalist architecture in this period in Australia.

The curtain wall construction used for the Administration Building represents an early example of its type and is a rare example in a Defence/munitions site context.

The building’s architectural value is enhanced by the extent to which it has retained much of its original layout, components, fabric and detailing.

Source: Statement of Heritage Impact prepared by Rappoport Heritage Consultants


 

 



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