President’s Award for Recycled Buildings Access Citation

Immigration and Hellenic Museums by Allom Lovell and Daryl Jackson

This is an article from the Architecture Australia archives and may use outdated formatting

Immigration Museum and Hellenic Archaeological Museum, Melbourne Image: John Gollings


Melbourne’s Victorian Customs House, long ago divorced from the Yarra by a railway viaduct and office towers, has been revitalised as the Immigration and Hellenic Archeological Museum. The project combined sensitive concern for the heritage fabric – Italian Renaissance with remnants of Greek Revival style – with an intention to create a dynamic and up to date museum. To encourage accessibility, four entry points were established on ground level, leading to a central reception/ticketing point. New lifts, disabled access, airconditioning, a café and exhibition spaces were integrated within the building and new structures, courtyard link and restaurant were installed externally. To avoid a visible plantroom on the roof, a subterranean chamber was excavated.

Jury Verdict

President’s Award
This sensitive adaptation respects the original significance of the Customs House, down to mapping the boundaries of the original structure on the present floor, to provide a delightful and functional museum. This was a major task as the existing building had been greatly abused by previous subdivisions. The consonance achieved throughout the site, uniting the rear courtyard and garden and new gallery service requirements with the old building, is of a very high order. Of particular note is the creative handling of the various access points, adding to the amenity and convenience. The new glass intervention at the rear is sympathetic to the building’s Italian Renaissance architecture without trying to emulate it. There is much confidence in the redesign of interiors, but the integrity of the original design is still clearly evident. This is a most competent, sensitive and creative undertaking.

Access Citation
The true test of successfully designing a wheelchair ramp which doesn’t look like an afterthought is whether it invites the able-bodied pedestrian to use it instead of the stairs. This is true of the complex arrangements for disabled access, connections between varied street levels, ticketing, exhibition and storage, which have been confidently resolved with clarity between new and old. The elevator for the disabled is well positioned near the main entrance and, being of glass, provides a pleasant experience for people with and without disabilities. This successful planning has allowed access to enrich the site.

Immigration Museum and Hellenic Archaeological Museum, Melbourne



Allom Lovell & Associates
Melbourne, Vic, Australia
Project Team
Kai Chen, Bob Sinclair, Martin Coates, Paul Evans, John Clements, Anne-Marie Treweeke, Milica Tumbas, Andrew Bell, Gosia Gabrys
Acoustic consultant Carr Marshall Day
Architect Jackson Architects
Builder L.U. Simon Builders
Building surveyor Philip Chun & Associates
Developer Victorian Office of Major Projects
Food services FCA (Foodservice Consultants Australia)
Hydraulic, mechanical and electrical consultant Aurecon
Landscape architect Laurence Blyton & Associates
Original architect Peter Kerr, Arthur Ebden Johnson, John James Clark (Victorian Public Works Department)
Programming consultant Blank Role :: Immigration Museum and Hellenic Archaeological Museum, Melbourne
Quantity surveyor Aquenta Consulting (formerly Currie & Brown)
Services Aurecon
Structural consultant Scott Wilson Irwin Johnston
Site details
Location Melbourne,  Vic,  Australia
Category Commercial / public buildings
Project Details
Status Built



Published online: 1 Nov 1999


Architecture Australia, November 1999

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