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a mini urban forest on the corner of Gasworks in South Melbourne

From a yard to a youth arts precinct

Multinet’s yard on the corner of Richardson and Pickles Sts has been vacated. The yard is part of the original Gasworks site.

Multinet’s vacant storage yard, from Pickles St

After several months of intensive work along Richardson St, the footpath has been re-instated.

Comdain relocate gas infrastructure from Multinet’s yard to underneath the footpath

Even though Gasworks stopped producing gas in South Melbourne in 1956, significant gas related infrastructure remained in Multinet’s yard. The major works were to move it out of the buildings in the yard and re-locate it under the footpath along Richardson St.

Gas is transported at high pressure through large transmission pipelines, with pressure reduced before it enters local distribution networks. Multinet Gas Networks deliver gas from the transmission network, through a network of lower pressure, smaller diameter, pipelines to customers in Melbourne’s inner east up to the Yarra Ranges.

The re-location of this vital service, as I first learned from a traffic management worker, was to prepare the way for a new performing arts complex for Albert Park College. The formal name is the Victorian Youth Arts Precinct – a partnership between Albert Park College and the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School.

A design for the precinct has already been prepared by Graham Burrows of Jackson Clements Burrows (JCB). The firm previously designed the Pickles St campus of Albert Park College which gives Year 12 students ‘a space of their own’.

The heritage brick walls will be incorporated into the development and the heritage of the site respected.

There has been little discussion or exposure of the project to the broader than school community, and how it will relate, (or not), to the Gasworks Theatre, and how the mini-urban forest in the triangle of land between Richardson and Pickles St will be treated. It is not immediately clear from looking at the drawings where the main access to the precinct will be.

It seems that at one time St Vincent St continued through to Pickles St, as this photograph shows, whereas now it ends at Richardson St. So much else to explore in this important aerial photograph taken at the time of anticipating the transformation of the Gasworks into Gasworks Arts Park.

Aerial view of Gasworks Park development c1980s , Port Phillip City collection sm2396

When that section of St Vincent St road reserve was closed, a ‘plantation’, the word used at the time, was planted. Over time it has matured. It is largely undisturbed by people, and the trees grow unhindered. The bird surveys of the little forest undertaken as part of the monthly Gasworks bird count have recorded a tawny frogmouth, some fan-tailed cuckoos and a few currawongs’1.

The yard will soon be transformed into the Victorian Youth Arts Precinct. It will include a major theatre, studio theatre, training and rehearsal areas, exhibition spaces and the latest in lighting, audio, digital projection, 3D and stage technologies.

You can find out a lot more about it at

Victorian Youth Arts Precinct

or hear local member Martin Foley introduce this ‘last piece of the puzzle’ of Gasworks. Principals Steve Cooke (Albert Park College) and Hilary Bland (VCASS) and students convey their excitement about the future of the precinct. (Note that clicking on the link will take you to facebook)

1 Rob Youl via email 6 September

You might also like Pavilions in an urban forest about the Pickles St campus.

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