BENDIGO'S streets are on the cusp of a mini-rejuvenation led by a handful of architects whose visions will shape the town for decades to come.
Their legacy will only become clear in 20 years time, Victorian Government Architect Jill Garner said.
"If you build it, and it's really good, it will be there for a long time ... then you get that legacy attached to it and we say 'weren't we fantastic in 2019, what vision we had to know that was what we wanted to add to this city'," she said.
"That's what we are looking for."
Ms Garner will moderate a discussion with designers this weekend on the city's future, and how architects are approaching major projects like Bendigo TAFE's master plan, the new law courts and East Bendigo's mosque.
Those projects are forming alongside plans for a hub in Lyttleton Terrace that would house 1000 government workers.
The City of Greater Bendigo has also flagged possible works nearby, including a new multi-story car park in the Market Street precinct and a Country Fire Authority building development.
All told, over $300 million is expected to be injected into at least four projects into one section of the city centre, according to a draft city centre plan the council has out for public comment.
It is highly unusual to have multiple large projects rising at the same time and they will impact the streetscape, the council's coordinator of public spaces and place making Wonona Fuzzard said.
"It's just a coincidence that new law courts, the new TAFE buildings and the GovHub are all needed at the same time," she said.
"Our focus is really on the whole city centre, rather than saying one area should go before another."
Generally, the council expects gradual development filling in space in the city centre, Mrs Fuzzard said.
So why are so many projects slated for the the northern end of the CBD?
There are a range of factors, Mrs Fuzzard said, though one reason could be that more of the area is owned by the state government than at the southern end of the city centre.
With three large government funded buildings set to rise in the same space over a short period, it will be vital everything is done right, Mrs Fuzzard said.
"We have to make sure the precinct functions as a whole. Even one large building has an impact on the road network."
Bendigo faces 'a few years of challenges'
That is not the only crunch decision that architects, city planners and governments are facing.
"Bendigo's got a few years of challenges to make sure these buildings are really good - and to not make mistakes," Ms Garner said.
One challenge could be putting enough money into each project.
"That's always one of my concerns. When an architect designs something and when its supported by government there's this issue of time, price and this other part, quality," Ms Garner said.
"We have to make sure quality is given equal status with time and price.
"From the government architect office's point of view, we always talk about the legacy of what we build. You rarely get an opportunity to do a building twice."
Architects designing for the city centre must also think about how they get people to their buildings.
That is a particular challenge in regional areas where people cannot rely as heavily on public transport, Ms Garner said.
It is not going to be as simple as adding more car parks.
"If the first two floors of the town hall had been for car parking you would have quite a different building," Ms Garner said.
Surrounding streets would have been different, too.
"The only way for streets to be safe is if there are eyes on them. If a building overlooks a street people feel safe because they are being observed," Ms Garner said.
"If you have car parking on the two lower levels of your building there's potentially no activity on the street."
Ms Garner wonders whether the way cars are used in Bendigo might change at some point.
"Certainly, in Melbourne, the government architect's office is a vocal advocate for losing car parks and getting people onto public transport walking or cycling," she said.
That would be welcomed by the council, which has proposed turning Mundy and Hargreaves Streets into primary cycling routes and improving safety on Chapel Street.
None can match Bendigo's old masters
Ms Garner will use Saturday's talk to explore what big construction projects will mean and how architects behind the have approached their projects.
"It's more of a general discussion. I will be handing over to those who can talk about their approach to design in Bendigo," she said.
"All of those design decisions are based on something and usually it's an interpretation of the place in which their building sits.
"That should be quite an interesting discussion because these buildings are interpretations of what Bendigo is telling designers, in a way."
The talk will take place during Open House Bendigo, when buildings including those designed by prolific historic architect William Vahland will be opened to the public.
No architect will ever again leave the legacy of someone like William Vahland, who designed the Bendigo Town Hall, the current law courts and a raft of other grand buildings, Ms Garner said.
"Those buildings are the result of a very wealthy city built on the gold rush. It was an incredible time in Bendigo's history," she said.
"But that era doesn't exist any more. So we are relying on slightly different parameters to that.
"It doesn't mean you won't get really fantastically built contemporary outcomes that sit really well with those incredible heritage buildings that Bendigo has."
More Open House Bendigo stories
The free Future Bendigo panel discussion will take place at the La Trobe Visual Arts Centre in View Street from 4.30pm to 6pm.
The talk is part of Open House Bendigo. For more festival information visit www.openhousemelbourne.org/bendigo-2019
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