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Redeveloping 33 Saxon St, Brunswick

21 Jul 2021

A mural painted on an exterior wall at 33 Saxon street. The painting is of an Aboriginal child's face, they have traditional paint on their nose and are wearing a feathered head dress. The mural covers the whole side of the 2 storey building.

33 Saxon Street is well known to the Moreland community and currently operates as Siteworks and Black Dot Gallery, a much loved community and creative space in the heart of Brunswick. It is part of the Civic and Cultural Precinct and the Brunswick Design District.

Since 2016, Siteworks and Blak Dot Gallery have transformed the old school site at 33 Saxon Street into a vibrant creative and community hub. The site used to be a school and the buildings are old and were not built for the purpose they are currently being used for.

It's time to give it a makeover. We are going to redevelop 33 Saxon Street over the next few years to transform it into a state-of-the-art community and creative facility that supports our creative industries and can be enjoyed by everyone.

History of the site

The site at 33 Saxon Street used to be a school and includes a large old school building, a heritage house, and public open space. We purchased the site in 2010 and in 2016 we contracted These are the Projects We Do Together to manage the site as Siteworks. Our partnerships with them, and with leading First Nations contemporary art gallery Blak Dot, have transformed the place into a thriving arts and community hub. Their activation of the site to date has provided a vision for the future of 33 Saxon Street.

In 2017, we endorsed a Strategic Framework for the site to assist decision making on the future use and development. The Strategic Framework sets out our principles and priorities for the facility and is the foundation for how it will be used beyond 2021. It includes redeveloping with attention to:

  • Creating more affordable arts space
  • Increasing public open space
  • Including a variety of community uses
  • Creating a place to come together and build community

A photo of an old school building located at 33 Saxon Street. The building is 2 storeys and painted a cream colour with decorative windows at the front. On the path leading to the building is a black sign with pink words that read "Wominjeka"

Redevelopment of 33 Saxon Street will meet the growing needs of our community by creating more space and opportunities for artists, community members and creative industries. It will be a welcoming, socially inclusive space that celebrates Moreland’s diversity, creativity and distinct culture.

The site will be managed by an external manager that will be chosen by us through an Expression of Interest (EOI) process. 

Some of the key benefits of the redevelopment include:

  • A large (2,000sqm) public open space, designed in consultation with the community. The space will host outdoor events, community recreation and creative activities of the site.
  • Exploring the potential for a brand new home for Brunswick Neighbourhood House. The space is being designed in discussion with the Neighbourhood House to see if we can meet their needs for a new home to support the growing local community through their many programs, activities and events.
  • A new community-use facility that will house occasional childcare, Maternal and Child Health facilities, multipurpose community rooms and commercial office space.
  • Creative production spaces and a gallery exhibition space that will be available for artists and creative organisations to lease with subsidised rent.
  • Space for a commercial cafe or hospitality business.
  • Improved connection and access between the site and Brunswick Baths

Project timeline

In 2018 after consultation with the community we endorsed a concept plan for the redevelopment of the site including updates to the existing facilities, new buildings and an outdoor public space. In 2020 we reviewed the concept with consideration of the strategic framework alongside the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. A refined version of the concept was endorsed in 2020 and the final design process is now underway, due to be reviewed by Council later in 2021.

A visual timeline shows key dates from the redevelopment project. It shows that Council purchased the site in 2010, began operating as Siteworks and Blak Dot in 2016, a strategic framework was endorsed in 2017, community engagement happened in 2018 and lead to a concept being endorsed, Covid-19 began in 2019 and a revised concept was endorsed in 2020 after a review due to budget constraints. the design team has now been appointed and in 2021 we will do community consultation on the open space before finalising the designs in late 2021 and starting construction in 2023

2 people sit on a bench outside the old school building at 33 Saxon Street. There are people walking in the background and beside the bench is an A frame sign that reads "Gallery Open"

What happens next?

One of the main features of the redevelopment at 33 Saxon Street is the public open space. We want to work with the community to make sure this space is useful, useable and well loved. We'll be asking for your thoughts on how the space should be designed in August. You'll be able to submit your ideas online and at in-person workshops at 33 Saxon Street.

Reference Documents

Need more information?

Questions and comments can be emailed to 33saxonstreet@moreland.vic.gov.au or you can call us on 9240 2221