Working in Collingwood provides daily interactions between old and new. Constant reminders of the lifecycle of a building are provided through crumbling terraces contrasted with heritage renovations. These are balanced with new apartment blocks at the forefront of design and their commercial counterparts under construction. Amongst this blend of tradition and modern innovation, you can find a modern development of a heritage gem: the former Collingwood Technical School.
The redevelopment of the Collingwood Technical School, sees the rejuvenation of an existing Heritage listed building. The building itself holds significance on many levels. Firstly, as the site of a courthouse, the Collingwood Artisans School and the Trades Hall Old Council Chamber. In addition to this important civic history, the site holds significant socially and culturally as the site of the labour movement known as the Eight-Hour Day movement. Furthermore, the Collingwood Technical School is the site of American artist Keith Haring’s iconic 1984 mural. Lastly, the building was also an important centre for industrial trade education for working-class boys, known as the Collingwood Technical College, which opened in 1912. Despite this long and important cultural and social history, the buildings have sat largely decrepit for over a decade since it closed its doors to TAFE students in 2005.
The Collingwood Technical School is architecturally significant on multiple levels. Designed by famed Chief Public Works Architect Percy Everett, it highlights his interest in modernist and art deco architectural styles. Additionally, according to the Victorian Heritage Register, the building holds significance as an example of Dudok-Modern architecture. This is primarily for its Johnston St arched façade, the Wellington St block and the engineering workshop (1938). I remember as a child, driving past and remarking upon its beautiful façade yet finding its ramshackle state incredibly haunting.
Luckily, this ramshackle state is no more. Not only do the new renovations restore this heritage site to its former glory, they also create much needed public space. Hopefully in future we will see more significant heritage sites such as this one given the care that they deserve. I look forward to seeing the future of this this architecturally and culturally significant building. A long-awaited encore for the Collingwood Technical School.
Click here to see this building in the Victorian Heritage Database.
Tara Nosko, 12/8/21