Facing the Music

8 August 2016

A new conservatorium building worth $105 million is set to be built at the University of Melbourne’s Southbank campus. The three­way joint project between the University, State Government, and local philanthropic organisations will begin construction in 2017 and be ready by 2019.

Premier Daniel Andrews has been building hype on his Facebook page. “It’ll be the world’s best training ground for musicians of every instrument and every discipline,” he said in a post. “And it will create 2,000 jobs.”

From 2019, all music students enrolled in the Bachelor of Music, Master of Music and PhDprograms will be based at Southbank. They will complete their studies at the new Conservatorium and the current building on St Kilda Road. The Diploma of Music and music-related breadth subjects will continue to be taught at Parkville.

Music students are welcoming the addition, which will relieve pressure from the crowded spaces in which they are currently working.

“The students at the current Conservatorium of Music at Parkville are running out of space,” says Rosemary Howarth, a music student. “This is due to the increase in students being accepted into undergraduate and post­graduate courses and the recent moving of contemporary music students from the Southbank campus to Parkville.”

John Wardle Architects won a competition to design the project. The same firm co­designed the Melbourne School of Design at the Parkville campus.

The new conservatorium will include a 443­-seat auditorium, a 200-­seat studio and a number of rehearsal studios, plus spaces for teaching, performing, recording and research.

Who is paying? The only information students have been given is that the building will cost around $105 million, with $3 million coming from the state government. The state is also providing a long­term lease of the land to the University.

The remainder of the cost will be funded by philanthropy, including the Myer Foundation and Ian Potter Foundation, and the University. It is not clear what proportion of the cost the University will shoulder, and a spokesperson declined to comment on this issue.

The new conservatorium forms part of an ongoing redevelopment of the Southbank campus. In 2014, the University refurbished its Grant Street Theatre and launched the new Lionel’s Lounge.

Another project, worth over $40 million, will involve the redevelopment of the Dodds Street stables at Southbank into a visual arts wing.

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