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Wanted: Quality replacements for the Currong Apartments

By Paul Costigan - 7 August 2015 13

currong-P1120681

There’s no doubt that the ACT Government has put an emphasis on communications and marketing when it comes to particular urban developments. This is very evident in the number of media statements in circulation.

There’s one media statement currently circulating about the pending demolition of the Currong Apartments in Braddon on the edge of Civic. To be honest, the media statement does not say much except to watch out for new fencing and sheds going up on the site in preparation for the coming demolition.

currong-P1120748

I guess we should all be packing the car with chairs and drinks and setting up nearby to watch the new fences and sheds being erected. Should be exciting stuff.

The proposal to demolish these buildings and to offer the site for redevelopment has not been trouble free. Originally, the government developer (the Land Development Agency), wanted to allow the lucky developers the chance to build a 15-storey buildings. After some stressful negotiations with nearby residents, this has now been modified.

Currong-P1120684

The real test now will be what measures the government agencies put in place to ensure quality design outcomes, including how these buildings will deal with the environmental issues of the 21st century.

It should not be too much to ask that the new towers have double glazing, quality sound and temperature insulation, extensive solar across the rooftops and ample greenery in the surrounding open spaces. And generous balconies!

In theory the new buildings, if designed well, should be a very positive addition to this northern edge of Civic. Let’s hope that the agency with oversight of this redevelopment has an eye to enhance the urban amenities of the suburb and will be taking this opportunity to provide 21st century quality housing.

currong-P1120745

Would it be asking too much for the government to put in place some published performance standards? Relevant agency chiefs should be required to achieve a high standard of measurable design and environmental outcomes in the quality of this build. Their future employment contracts should be dependent on their success in delivering high quality architecture.

Meanwhile, with the arrival of the new fencing and sheds as set out in the current media release, we can only watch, wait and live in hope that we are seeing the beginnings of something wonderful that will be replacing the Currong Apartments.

One has to stay optimistic – just for the moment at least!

Are there stories out there from people who have lived in the Currong Apartments at any time in the previous decades?

What’s Your opinion?


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13 Responses to
Wanted: Quality replacements for the Currong Apartments
Holden Caulfield 2:58 pm 10 Aug 15

creative_canberran said :

madelini said :

I’m mostly alone in this, but I’ll miss the Currong Flats – and indeed, most of the older govvie flats around town. There’s a lot of complaints that they’re eyesores, but they have a lot of potential. I understand that there are asbestos issues, but that’s the same with most buildings from before 1985 (bonded asbestos is particularly prevalent) and can be managed, as long as it’s not loose-fill.

Canberra doesn’t have a lot of history, but it seems to be much easier to tender out and demolish the older buildings to replace with cookie-cutter new ones, rather than invest and take a risk on revitalising the buildings we already have.

Always amused when people argue this old heritage will be lost, replaced by cookie cutter modern buildings. These old movie buildings weren’t architectural marvels, they were cheap, cookie cutter buildings. Just of a different vintage. For the money you would need to strip this building back to the steel and brick, the only things that won’t have asbestos in them, and bring them anywhere up to modern safety and environmental standards, you could have built very many more homes for people.

It’s false heritage, and inefficient.

I agree with both of you, haha.

I like most of the mid-century public housing apartment blocks in or near the city and along Northbourne. I actually think most of them look good and it would be awesome to see them brought up to speed for modern day living.

However, I also understand the economics of keeping them just doesn’t add up.

creative_canberran 2:29 pm 10 Aug 15

madelini said :

I’m mostly alone in this, but I’ll miss the Currong Flats – and indeed, most of the older govvie flats around town. There’s a lot of complaints that they’re eyesores, but they have a lot of potential. I understand that there are asbestos issues, but that’s the same with most buildings from before 1985 (bonded asbestos is particularly prevalent) and can be managed, as long as it’s not loose-fill.

Canberra doesn’t have a lot of history, but it seems to be much easier to tender out and demolish the older buildings to replace with cookie-cutter new ones, rather than invest and take a risk on revitalising the buildings we already have.

Always amused when people argue this old heritage will be lost, replaced by cookie cutter modern buildings. These old movie buildings weren’t architectural marvels, they were cheap, cookie cutter buildings. Just of a different vintage. For the money you would need to strip this building back to the steel and brick, the only things that won’t have asbestos in them, and bring them anywhere up to modern safety and environmental standards, you could have built very many more homes for people.

It’s false heritage, and inefficient.

Phteph 1:03 pm 10 Aug 15

vintage123 said :

Holden Caulfield said :

Why would 15 storey buildings be such a bad thing? How tall is the Manhattan complex on the other side of Glebe Park?

I had a quick look at the site of geocons 19,20 and 21 story apartments planned for gungahlin yesterday. If you can build them that high in gunghalin, can’t see why Kingston should be any different.

I live in the Manhattan, it’s 16 storeys including the penthouses on the top floor. Currong apartments are CBD, not Kingston 🙂 I believe there is a bit of an outdated restriction on the height of buildings in the CBD (617m above sea level), so Gungahlin isn’t really a valid comparison unfortunately.

Also as a CBD resident, paying a LOT of money to live where I do, TBH im quite happy to see them go, and hope the flats right next to Glebe park are next!

madelini 11:35 am 10 Aug 15

I’m mostly alone in this, but I’ll miss the Currong Flats – and indeed, most of the older govvie flats around town. There’s a lot of complaints that they’re eyesores, but they have a lot of potential. I understand that there are asbestos issues, but that’s the same with most buildings from before 1985 (bonded asbestos is particularly prevalent) and can be managed, as long as it’s not loose-fill.

Canberra doesn’t have a lot of history, but it seems to be much easier to tender out and demolish the older buildings to replace with cookie-cutter new ones, rather than invest and take a risk on revitalising the buildings we already have.

dungfungus 5:39 pm 08 Aug 15

vintage123 said :

Sandman said :

dungfungus said :

Amazing to read in the CT today that extensive areas of asbestos have been “discovered” in these buildings..
This has doubled the cost of demolition overnight.
Surely the government and the tendering contractors would have been aware of this beforehand?

The tendering contractors surely would have. Of course , they probably put in a low tender with an asbestos clause and got the job based on the low starting price.

ACT government pre released their expectations regarding cost of demolition at $3 million. Once the asbestos was discovered, mmmmmm and I say discovered reluctantly as the report basically States it was everywhere, the contractors quote doubled from $3 to $6 million.

It will be interesting to see what happens to the cost of the light rail once the chosen consortium unearths asbestos pipes under the Northbourne Avenue median strip.
A precedent has been set – double the price.

vintage123 11:41 pm 07 Aug 15

Sandman said :

dungfungus said :

Amazing to read in the CT today that extensive areas of asbestos have been “discovered” in these buildings..
This has doubled the cost of demolition overnight.
Surely the government and the tendering contractors would have been aware of this beforehand?

The tendering contractors surely would have. Of course , they probably put in a low tender with an asbestos clause and got the job based on the low starting price.

ACT government pre released their expectations regarding cost of demolition at $3 million. Once the asbestos was discovered, mmmmmm and I say discovered reluctantly as the report basically States it was everywhere, the contractors quote doubled from $3 to $6 million.

vintage123 11:38 pm 07 Aug 15

dungfungus said :

Amazing to read in the CT today that extensive areas of asbestos have been “discovered” in these buildings..
This has doubled the cost of demolition overnight.
Surely the government and the tendering contractors would have been aware of this beforehand?

Oh my, it was discovered DURING the tendering process. Anyone keen for a chuckle, here is the link:
https://www.australiantenders.com/display_tender/221922/Notice_of_Intention_to_Tender__Currong_Flats_Block_1_Section_52_Braddon_-_Demolition_Works_for_the_Removal_of_Existing_Buildings_and_Structures.html?searchId=1438954522&page=1#.VcS0JH7XerV

creative_canberran 4:25 pm 07 Aug 15

dungfungus said :

Amazing to read in the CT today that extensive areas of asbestos have been “discovered” in these buildings..
This has doubled the cost of demolition overnight.
Surely the government and the tendering contractors would have been aware of this beforehand?

Someone dropped the ball on that. Anyone who knows anything about asbestos and buildings of that era would know cavity spaces and utility spaces are very likely to have friable asbestos. It’s typically lagging and limpet that has degraded over time. There’s also mastic around windows and in building joints that also fails over time.

The fact they’ve been surprised by this apparently shows a lack of anticipation. Also very concerning that this was student accommodation yet they didn’t seem to have an asbestos management plan, or at least, not one that fully realised the likely extent of ACM in the building.

vintage123 12:38 pm 07 Aug 15

Holden Caulfield said :

Why would 15 storey buildings be such a bad thing? How tall is the Manhattan complex on the other side of Glebe Park?

I had a quick look at the site of geocons 19,20 and 21 story apartments planned for gungahlin yesterday. If you can build them that high in gunghalin, can’t see why Kingston should be any different.

vintage123 12:35 pm 07 Aug 15

dungfungus said :

Amazing to read in the CT today that extensive areas of asbestos have been “discovered” in these buildings..
This has doubled the cost of demolition overnight.
Surely the government and the tendering contractors would have been aware of this beforehand?

Well they should have been as it is mandatory for each building to hold a current asbestos status on the database. Furthermore it’s compulsory for a type 3 official asbestos inspection to be carried out prior to demolition.

So if they have gone to the solicitation process without both the register document and the type 3 report then they have been ill prepared and competent companies responding to the tender will pick up on this pretty quickly and use it to their advantage in whatever way they deem necessary.

Personally I would have been surprised if they didn’t include the reports in the tender, as it is usually the cost driver for demolition, but then again, who knows these days.

Sandman 12:08 pm 07 Aug 15

dungfungus said :

Amazing to read in the CT today that extensive areas of asbestos have been “discovered” in these buildings..
This has doubled the cost of demolition overnight.
Surely the government and the tendering contractors would have been aware of this beforehand?

The tendering contractors surely would have. Of course , they probably put in a low tender with an asbestos clause and got the job based on the low starting price.

dungfungus 11:17 am 07 Aug 15

Amazing to read in the CT today that extensive areas of asbestos have been “discovered” in these buildings..
This has doubled the cost of demolition overnight.
Surely the government and the tendering contractors would have been aware of this beforehand?

Holden Caulfield 10:29 am 07 Aug 15

Why would 15 storey buildings be such a bad thing? How tall is the Manhattan complex on the other side of Glebe Park?

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