Fairfield Park Amphitheater gets state heritage protection

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The Heritage Council of Victoria decided to include an amphitheater designed by Maggie Edmond and a pavilion designed by Paul Couch on the Victorian Heritage Register, contravening a recommendation from the Executive Director of Heritage Victoria.

The amphitheater and pavilion are part of the Fairfield Park Amphitheater complex in northeast Melbourne, which also includes a small bandstand structure. In 2021, the executive director of Heritage Victoria found that neither the amphitheater nor the pavilion met the criteria for listing on the state heritage register.

Following a hearing by the Heritage Council of Victoria, the complex was found to be of state-level cultural heritage significance, particularly important to the Greek-Australian community.

Northcote Amphitheater designed by Edmond and Corrigan.

Image: City of Yarra

The committee found that the complex did not meet the criteria for aesthetic significance because it was not “appreciated or valued by the community at large or by an appropriate related discipline evidenced by critical recognition or acknowledgment of exceptional merit”.

However, in testimony, Maggie Edmond maintained that the amphitheater had not been entered for any awards because there were no suitable categories at the time.

The possible partial demolition of the pavilion had triggered a campaign by architects for its heritage classification.

The Heritage Council committee also considered whether the complex should be considered a single location. Edmond testified that “there is a holistic nature and connection between the three structures or elements of the square – namely the amphitheater, the bandstand and the pavilion”.

“This was Dr. Edmond’s evidence that a spatial relationship exists between the three structures, which is often woven into performances,” reads the council’s report. The committee agreed, and as a result, all three structures are heritage listed as part of the Fairfield Park Amphitheater complex.

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