Australian Heritage Listing

Ardoch is listed on the Australian Heritage database as the "Ardoch Education Village (former)".

The database lists Ardoch's Statement of Significance as "a rare, innovative and intact example of early flat development in Victoria, based on the garden suburb concept derived from England and North America" and notes that the original mansion was the home of William Wardell, who was the Inspector General of Public Works in Victoria from 1861 to 1878. 

It goes on to note Alexander Mackie Younger as the principal developer of the 1920s Arts & Crafts style buildings. Younger was a "prolific builder in the Caulfield area, built over a hundred houses in a development in Sandringham, and developed numerous subdivisions in the Malvern, Kew, Hawthorn and Toorak area. He was also involved in converting old mansion residences into guest houses, flats and rooming houses in the 1920s. This was a common practice in the period when large residences were no longer viable and the demand for cheap rooming houses resulted in sometimes crude conversions."

Younger sold the development in 1925 to a Dr S. Armstrong, who had additional buildings added. 

Ardoch was acquired by the Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Society in 1949, and then by the Victorian Education Department in 1977. 

It was used as a government high school and regional education office during the 1980s before being redeveloped back into apartments in the 1990s.

Victorian Heritage Listing

Ardoch is mentioned twice on the Victorian Heritage database, once as the "Former Ardoch Educational Centre" registered with the Victorian Heritage Register and once as the "Former Ardoch Flats", registered with the National Trust. These listings carry only brief information.

The Heritage and Conservation History of Ardoch

Extracts from a Masters thesis by Virginia Blue, May 2016

"Although the planning of Ardoch is clearly related to the bungalow court concept and probably was in great part inspired by it, its far more expansive nature and the much greater significance of the landscape in relation to the buildings set it apart from this type."
"Landscaped flat developments of this sort were relatively uncommon, no doubt because of their relatively low density and lower returns, and Ardoch appears to be the largest and one of the earliest examples." From Ardoch Village: Conservation Management Plan, Allom Lovell & Assoc.
Ardoch occupies a unique place in Melbourne’s built history, as a place built for residential use as tenanted flats in the era of the Garden City ideals of the early 20th century, then later adapted to use by the Victorian Education Department in 1977 as a school for disadvantaged children, then finally being developed back into residential use by a Public Private Partnership between the Urban Land Authority and a venture partner.
Over its various interpretations, it has been known as Ardoch, Ardoch Village, Ardoch Mansions, Ardoch Flats, Ardoch High School, Ardoch Windsor Secondary College and Ardoch Education Centre. For the purpose of clarification, in this report I will refer to it simply as Ardoch.


Ardoch was listed on the Victorian Heritage Register as VHR H0969 in June 1993. It was also listed on the National Trust in May 1993 (refer File #B6445, VHR H0969).


Why is Ardoch's heritage important?

Ardoch’s heritage significance lies not so much in its origins, as it began life as a fairly typical mansion in the seaside suburb of St Kilda, albeit as the home of the then Chief Architect William Wardell.

Rather, its heritage significance is due to its adaptation in the 1920s and 1930s of the fashionable ideal of the Garden City into a group of buildings which were designed to look like individual houses but actually contained (generously sized) flats within. Further, they were grouped around and about a garden setting, which from the early days also included tennis courts and fruit trees.

The Statement of Significance from the Victorian Heritage Register description refers to its importance  as “a rare, innovative and intact example of early flat development in Victoria based on the considered application of the garden suburb philosophy derived from England and North America.”

Private Residences of the 19th century

St Kilda had been a popular seaside destination since Melbourne’s settlement, and with the opening of the Melbourne and St Kilda Railway in 1857, it suddenly became much more desirable as a residential location. In that same year, the land on which Ardoch would later be built was offered for sale from a Crown land subdivision. Crown portion 148B was purchased by John Cook and crown portion 154A was purchased by W Jones.

It’s unknown who built (or designed) the first residence on this site

It’s unknown who built (or designed) the first residence on this site, but the earliest mention of it is in the St Kilda City Ratebooks in 1864. It was listed as a brick residence of 13 rooms, with a value of £225. Interestingly, the owner was listed as William Wilkinson Wardell, the Inspector General of Public Works in Victoria, a position of much prestige. This tells us something about the types of people living in this are in the 1860s, and that it was a place for the professional class. This residence would later become one of the Ardoch Flat development buildings, to be known as Building 10.

It has been speculated that Wardell may have designed the residence himself, as he was an architect and civil engineer, and had in fact migrated to Melbourne in 1858 to take up the position of Chief Architect. However, very little information exists about the design of this building on Dandenong Road, and both the Joy McCann Report and the Conservation Management Plan came to the conclusion that there was not enough detail to mark it as a Wardell design, despite having similarities to contemporary public works such as the St Kilda Post Office.

However, if we are to take the Burra Charter’s application of “places of cultural significance including … historic places with cultural values" as being worthy of inclusion, then the fact that one of Melbourne’s early Chief Architects lived in this property would surely make it worthy of merit?

Wardell only kept the property for 5 years, selling it to the merchant Edward Keep in 1869. Keep extended it to 16 rooms, and sold it to William Wilson in 1873. The property, by now known as “Dalquhurn” on the MMBW plan of 1897, and shown as having extensive park-like gardens around it, remained in the Wilson family until 1907, when William’s widow Amy sold it to George Buchanan.

Meanwhile, the other portion of land which would later become part of the Ardoch Flats complex, located to the east of Dalquhurn, had a 12 roomed residence built on it in 1873 by the merchant John Spence. This property was listed as “Cliefdon” on the MMBW plan of 1897.

Tenanted Garden Flats: Ardoch is created

George’s widow, Margaret Buchanan, sold Dalquhurn to the builder and prolific developer Alexander Mackie Younger in 1920. Younger didn’t waste any time getting started on converting the mansion into flats, as he lodged plans the same year. The plans showed additional 2 storey wings to the north-west and south-west of the existing building, with some minor alterations to the original residence.

The name “Ardoch” was listed on Younger’s 1920 lodgement plans, but the origins are not known.

The St Kilda City Rate Book entry for 1921 lists “Ardoch Homestead” as tenanted to L White, solicitor and the owner of the property as A Younger of Caulfield. As there was no other entry that year for Ardoch, I have assumed that Younger was commercially savvy enough to rent out the building prior, or even during, his building works.

Having got approval to create the flats in the former mansion, Younger now set about his greater plan to create a large flat complex on the entire grounds of the estate. He began by getting plans approved for two more blocks of flats (later known as Buildings 6 & 7) which would be accessed by his new “Ardoch Avenue” proposal, in 1922.

Buildings 6 & 7 had a single flat on each level of two levels, with bay windows fronting onto the new Ardoch Avenue and an external stairway to the first floor.

Later in 1922, Younger had more plans approved, this time for Building 4, and he also began negotiations with the Council and Melbourne & Metropolitan Building of Works to close Ardoch Avenue, creating a cul-de-sac into his garden court development. This information is contained in a charming exchange of letters between Messrs Rigby & Fielding, lawyers, on behalf of Younger, and the Melbourne & Metropolitan Board of Works.

By 1923, the Rate Books listed Younger as the owner of about 30 flats in the Ardoch complex. Tenants listed included various professions - including several entries for gentlemen, solicitors, and even a tobacconist. Most flats listed one to two people as occupants, with a few recording up to six people in a flat, but this was the minority.

The next major player in Ardoch’s history was Dr George Armstrong, a surgeon from Sydney, who purchased the Cliefdon property next door to Ardoch, in 1924. The mansion was immediately earmarked for demolition, as a plan was approved in the same year to replace it with a new two-storey block of flats, with corner turrets, and with three flats on each level. (Later known as Building 1.) The site plan indicated a tennis court and separate laundry building for tenant’s use. It also included a separate villa on the Pilley Street elevation. The plans were drawn by R McDonald, a builder with a Collins Street address. 

The following year, 1925, Armstrong purchased the entire Ardoch estate from Younger. (Which meant that Armstrong now owned Buildings 1, 4, 6, 7 and 10, as well as assorted buildings such as stables, laundry block and the single level villa built behind Building 1.) In that year, the 36 flats are referred to in the Rate Books as “Ardoch Mansions”.

Another two buildings were added in 1928 (Buildings 8 & 9), in a similar fabric and style to Building 7 (previously built by Younger in 1922), but these ones differed as they had maid’s rooms at the rear and a sleepout/porch at the front, facing onto the main (communal) garden. The designer was A Clissold. The flats were very generous in size, with only one flat per level. Around this time, Armstrong also added maid’s rooms to other flats in the complex.

Between 1928 and 1938 more developments occurred at Ardoch, but scant details are known about when Buildings 2, 3 & 5 were built, and who designed them. Building 3 contained a restaurant on the ground floor, however, as in 1938 plans were approved to convert the restaurant into two more flats. The architect was Harry Winbush. 

The flurry of building activity at Ardoch now settled, and only a few minor alterations were made in the following decade. All the flats remained in the possession of Dr Armstrong, and several notable residents were said to have either stayed at, or lived, at Ardoch during these golden years. Dame Nellie Melba was said to have stayed there, and Dr Herbert Evatt and his wife leased a flat around 1930, when Evatt was a High Court judge. 

In 1949 the sale of Ardoch to the Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Society made headlines in The Age. The property was sold for a hefty £100,000.

CML later acquired the three bungalows in Pilley Street (1969-1970) and renamed the whole complex Ardoch Village. Despite being tenanted, it was allowed to fall into disrepair however, and by 1977 they sold the entire complex to the Victorian Education Department.

School days
With an intention to create a high school set in a domestic, park-like setting, the Education Department began works to transform Ardoch into an unusual school - the likes of which had not been developed elsewhere in Melbourne, as the buildings were to be retained with their 1920s style facades, with an emphasis on retaining the gardens, where possible. The school was to provide a support focus for disadvantaged children, which is why the park-like setting and domestic atmosphere was considered important.

Demolition did occur however, namely of the three Pilley Street bungalows, as well as the stables which became the site for hardcourt tennis courts. Alterations to the external fabric were not dramatic - no doubt in part because the “Education Department gave an undertaking to the St Kilda City Council that the ‘original facade and general landscaping of the site’ would not be altered.”

External staircases were enclosed to various buildings, and internally a lot of modifications were made to many of the buildings. Some were retained as tenanted flats, to encourage a domestic atmosphere in the school, considered desirable especially as the school was being used as the centre for a homeless children’s program. Slowly, the majority of tenants were relocated. The park-like grounds were retained.

Buildings 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 & 9 were converted for use into classrooms, while buildings 1, 3 & 10 were used as offices for the Regional Office of the Education Centre. In both cases, internal alterations occurred to suit the function of the spaces, although an astonishing amount of internal details were kept - considering what could have likely happened in a case such as this. Perhaps Ardoch’s heritage preservation was aided by the desire of education at the time to create a more domestic setting for educational buildings.

Building 2 was the only structure not occupied by either the school or the Regional Office, but instead remained tenanted for many years, and thus remained in its original state internally.

By this stage, the City of St Kilda was beginning to commission a series of heritage reports, seeking to have Ardoch placed on the Historic Buildings Register.

By the late 1980s, the Regional Office was relocated to Dandenong, and the Prahran School Support Centre took over their former spaces in buildings 1, 3 and 10.

The school was wound back in the early 1990s, with students relocated to the nearby Windsor campus in the last year of the Cain-Kirner government, in 1991.

At the end of 1992, the new Kennett government announced the formal closure of Ardoch as a school.

Ardoch remained in use by the Education Department for one more year as offices and special teaching spaces, but this was also relocated in 1993, allowing Ardoch to move onto its next chapter of development: that of returning back to residential accommodation.

With the imminent closure and dispersal of Ardoch by the Education Department, the Historic Buildings Council hurriedly commissioned a very in-depth report into the possibility of including Ardoch on its Register. The report, prepared by the historian Joy McCann, formed the basis for the later Conservation Management Plan.

Private garden apartments: the circle completes

After two attempts by the City of St Kilda for inclusion (1982 and 1992), Ardoch is finally admitted onto the Historic Buildings Council Register in 1993. It is listed with the National Trust in May and with Heritage Council Victoria in June.

In the same year, the Urban Land Authority was tasked with managing the dispersal process of Ardoch. The successful developer was Rahayu, and a joint partner arrangement was entered into, with the intention of developing more apartments on the site and converting many of the existing buildings into smaller apartments, while retaining the central village green which dated from the 1920s developments. It was also intended to restore as much of the external building fabric as possible, so a Conservation Management Plan was commissioned (1994) by the ULA, prepared by Allom Lovell. The subsequent CMP, based on the Burra Charter principles, was then included in the contract between Rahayu and the ULA.

When the Education Department acquired Ardoch from CML Society, there were 53 flats. In the new proposal there would be 92 apartments, each privately owned, located in 14 buildings. As the number of apartments was to almost double, extensive work was required to convert the existing buildings into smaller apartments, as well as to build four more blocks of apartments.

The new development also included a heated swimming pool, sauna and gymnasium.

By 1995, the first apartments went on sale. Ardoch had been set up that year as a strata title development, operating under the Owners Corporation Act (2006). Each apartment owner was to be a member of the Owners Corporation, with a committee elected annually to oversee maintenance and management of the common property. This arrangement continues to this day.

The development which had begun as a private residence with an extensive garden and orchard had now come full circle back to privately owned accommodation with extensive gardens. And through each phase, the beautiful gardens were not just retained, but were central to the orientation of the homes.
Flats in Melbourne

Melbourne’s boom years, in the middle to late 19th century, had created a mix of mansions for the wealthy and terrace housing for the poor, with villas for the developing middle classes.  Flats as a building type, although appearing in England around that time as accommodation for both upper and working class residents, were not built in Melbourne in the 19th century. Seen as no better than the rows of terrace housing in the poorer areas, flats were part of the general distaste for high density housing, and its association with slum areas. Lack of privacy and basic sanitation arrangements, as well as confined access to open areas, were considered unsuitable as a place to rear a family.

Just prior to the Great War however, purpose-built flats began to appear in increasing numbers, of particular appeal to investors due to the high returns, the result of high demand for housing by residents moving into Melbourne.

Terry Sawyer, in his study on the development of flats in Melbourne, defined them as emerging in two distinct types -

  1. That of multi-storey inner city flats designed for the very wealthy, along the lines of a hotel, complete with dining rooms (such as the Art Nouveau styled Melbourne Mansions, built in 1906 and generally regarded as Melbourne’s first purpose-built block of flats);
  2. Low-level flats built in the suburbs to house middle class workers, as a more attractive alternative the overcrowded older homes in Melbourne’s inner suburbs.

In both cases however, these early flats were not generally intended as places for families, due to the lack of privacy and open space. Against the backdrop of the Great War and its social upheaval aftermath, a new type of flat was called for: one which reflected the growing interest in the Garden City ideals of the UK and of the American Bungalow Court appearing in Los Angeles. In areas such as St Kilda, home to mansions which were now very expensive to upkeep with limited domestic help available, suddenly the scene was set for a boom period of flat development.

“It was held to be no longer necessary to labour with a house and all the domestic drudgery that entailed when by borrowing Continental ideas, people who could afford it could live in flats. Land has become so valuable the villa of the Victorian days, in a crowded thoroughfare, no longer shows anything like an adequate return of interest on the land’s present capital value. It is more profitable to pull the house erected thereon down, and to erect flats.” Prahran Telegraph, 18 October 1919
Flats in St Kilda

The economic collapse of the 1890s meant that many of St Kilda’s mansions were converted into boarding houses, so there was already a precedent for high density living in a location well serviced by public transport, that was relatively close to the city whilst still enjoying a seaside location.

A flurry of flat developments appeared along Dandenong Rd St Kilda after the tram line was extended in 1912, mostly designed to cater to the middle classes, funded by investors eager to either convert or demolish the now over-supply of 19th century mansions. Howard Lawson, the architect who was most famous for his flat design and developments, had 12 projects completed at Dandenong Rd by 1919. Other notable examples were Kelvin Mansions, also built in the prevailing fashion for Californian Bungalow + Arts & Crafts style.

Garden City Ideals

As the ideals of Ebenezer Howard’s garden city began to influence early 20th century urban design in Australia, it was inevitable this influence would spread to developments in affluent middle class suburbs such as St Kilda.  

There was an increasing desire for the health benefits of fresh air and access to nature and sunlight, particularly after the war, and various developments appeared around Melbourne based on the garden city principles of shared gardens, although these mostly involved whole suburbs, like Garden City at Pt Melbourne.

Californian Bungalow Courts

Bungalow courts appeared in California in 1909, consisting of small single or double storey houses built around shared green courtyards. While many of the Californian versions were built in styles such as Spanish Colonial Revival and Swiss Chalet, it was the Bungalow style (dubbed Californian Bungalow in Australia) which particularly caught the public’s imagination in Melbourne, and many of these features began to appear not just in flat developments like Ardoch, but also in general housing stock. Elements like wide eaves, exposed rafters, stucco walls, low-pitch roofs, a propensity for “natural” materials like terracotta & shingles and heavy columns were typical of the desired style.

Comparative Landscaped Garden Flats
While there are plenty of examples of bungalow style houses clustered around a cul-de-sac, there are very few comparable garden flat developments in Melbourne, and certainly none on the scale of Ardoch.

Unlike the other flat developments on Dandenong Road, Ardoch was designed to face inwards, towards the garden, rather than towards the main road. Possibly the most similar example elsewhere in Melbourne is that of the Studley Flats, Toorak Rd, Toorak, (1918) which were built to look onto a garden at the rear, but unlike Ardoch, the Studley Flats actually look like flats, in one large block.

Elsewhere, Howard Lawson’s flat developments at Alexandra Avenue (1923-1941) were designed to sit amongst lush gardens, however they also face onto the river view, rather than internally towards gardens. Cairo Flats (1937) face onto their own garden, but the building is an L shape, reading as one building of flats, rather than individual buildings, so it too differs from Ardoch.

What makes Ardoch unusual?
  1. Flats were designed to look like individual two-storey houses.
  2. The ratio of building to garden was modest compared with other developments, which maximised their plot ratios.
  3. Buildings face inwards, towards each other and the shared garden spaces.
  4. Onsite restaurants were, at the time, generally only built in the city flats (built for a genteel class, and where the individual kitchens were small). Suburban flats generally had their own kitchens, with no shared dining room. Ardoch generously had both complete individual kitchens and a restaurant. However, as it was closed in 1938 for conversion to more flats, perhaps this wasn’t a successful outcome, or maybe it just went out of fashion.
  5. Buildings were not laid out in a regimented form, but followed the almost haphazard dog-leg subdivision created by Younger, which creates a much more private outlook for the buildings.
  6. Buildings were set in the centre of their own garden, as well as having a shared garden space.
  7. Most of the buildings are individual - with similar fabric and elements of Arts & Crafts and Californian Bungalow style - but with varied sizes and plans. Buildings 8 & 9 are very similar externally, although the internal layouts were altered in the 1970s conversions to educational buildings.
Conservation Management Plan

Ardoch was perhaps lucky, as very few alterations occurred to the external fabric over the years, so by the time the Conservation Management Plan was written in 1994, there was plenty of opportunity to protect the external elements. The same could not be said of the interiors, as there was extensive alteration during the Education Department occupancy. The only building which remained intact over that time was Building 2.

The Statement of Significance given by the Historic Buildings Council was based on the version in Joy McCann’s very extensive Report for the Historic Buildings Council.

The Conservation Management Plan reviewed each of these points, and responded in detail, suggesting a revised Statement of Significance be adopted instead. This is listed below in its entirety:

The Ardoch Village complex is of outstanding historical and architectural significance.

The site and the original nineteenth century residence (Building 10) are of historical significance for their association with their first owner and resident between 1864-1869, architect William Wilkinson Wardell, Inspector-General of Public Works in Victoria ( 1861-1878).

Much of the historical and architectural significance of the complex is derived from the form of its 1920s and 1930s development. The historical pattern of the development of the site is very unusual, representing the consolidation of two substantial mid-nineteenth century residential estates, to a single speculative flat development. The nature of this development is significant for its rarity since flat and housing developments of the period typically involved the subdivision of larger estates, offering quicker economic returns.

The complex is a rare, innovative and intact example of early flat development in Victoria based on the considered application of the garden suburb philosophy derived from England and North America. The informal and picturesque relationship of the detached buildings to their landscaped setting was a crucial part of this philosophy. Ardoch is by far the largest such development in which flats buildings were placed in a landscaped setting. It is by far the largest known early flats development in Victoria constructed as detached pavilions rather than monolithic large buildings.

The Ardoch flats are a representative example of the application of Californian Bungalow style to flat development in Victoria, characterised by rustic features such as timber shingles, roughcast render, projecting rafters, and Arts and Crafts style leadlights.

The buildings at Ardoch illustrate aspects of flat life in the 1920s and 1930s including the use of sleep outs or porches facing a garden to provide a sense of space and healthy living; and use of rear milk and bread service hatch in some buildings. The boiler room at the rear of Building 3 demonstrates the original use of the building as a restaurant for Ardoch’s tenants.

Interestingly, the original wording was retained on the Heritage Council Victoria Statement of Significance, which refers to the site as “The Former Ardoch Education Centre” (although it is noted as being updated Jan 7, 1997).

The Statement of Significance on the National Trust listing, which refers to the “Former Ardoch Flats” is a third version - much abridged and noted as being last updated June 17, 2008: 

The former Ardoch flats complex built principally between 1920 and 1922 by developer Alex M Younger is significant as an early example of grouped housing in a garden setting which developed as a response to post World War 1 housing shortages and the demand for new housing types to replace unfashionable terrace houses.

The group is notable for its representation of the garden city possibly derived via North America from the bungalow court concept. Ardoch represents the most substantial integrated garden/flat development from the 1920s remaining in Melbourne.

Ardoch is important for the scale and variety of plan type of the development and the consistency of the early adaption of the bungalow style to flat design. The flats also exhibit characteristic flat planning of the era with balconies and sleep-outs reflecting the interest in notions of healthy living in a period when tuberculosis and bubonic plague existed in Australia.

The original external form of the 1860s house, once the home of famous architect William Wardell, is still evident but the additional flats built in 1928 and 1938 are stylistically consistent with the 1920s buildings. The external integrity of the group remains high but substantial internal alterations have been made to some of the buildings.

As the 1994 development plan included adhering to the CMP as part of the contract, it would seem then that those works were held to a different account, than to subsequent works which need to adhere to the Statement of Significance as it now appears on both the Heritage Council and National Trust versions. I am possibly splitting hairs here, as in essence all three version contain the same elements, however, for the sake of consistency, it would perhaps be good if they were the same.

Actual Changes - from then to now

If we take the 1930s as perhaps the high point and golden years of the Ardoch flat layout, and therefore most worthy of conservation, as per the Statement of Significance, we can see what changes occurred during the various incarnations, best represented in the following table.

This information has been compiled from a mixture of sources, including searches of previously sold real estate, the original plans, plans in Joy McCann’s Report (provided by the Education Department), the CMP & interviews with Ardoch residents.


19TH C







Built 1924

Walls removed, partitions built. Singe level villa behind demolished.

Substantial alterations internally. Externally alterations to fabric.

10 Ardoch Ave



Built 1920-38

No alterations but in poor state & uninhabitable.

Substantial alterations internally

9 Ardoch Ave



Built 1924 - unknown. Altered in 1938 to replace restaurant with flats, extended slightly.

Minor alterations

Minor alterations internally.

Fireplaces, chimney breast & panelling retained to some apartments.

8 Ardoch Ave



Built 1922

Minor alterations. Intended to be demolished, but didn’t happen. In poor state & uninhabitable.

Substantial alterations internally

6 Pilley St



Built 1920-38

Completely gutted. Rear altered to create glazed courts. Vandal damage.

Substantial alterations internally. Rear altered.

7 Ardoch Ave



Built 1922

Walls removed, partitions built

Substantial alterations internally. Rear addition.

6 Ardoch Ave



Built 1922

Substantial alterations internally

Substantial alterations internally. Rear addition.

4 Ardoch Ave


The Essence of the Eras - alterations

19th century 

Dulquhurn was extended in 1873. It appears the style was similar to the original building.

Tenanted flats 

Younger substantially adapted the existing Victorian mansion Dalquhurn (Building 10) to suit conversion to flats, extending it and altering the facade to a style in keeping with the Californian Bungalow / Arts & Crafts fashion of the day. He subdivided the grounds of Dulquhurn, but retained many of the existing fruit trees & built at least 3 of the flat blocks in a park-like setting.

Armstrong demolished Cliefdon, replacing it with a new block of flats which looked like a house. Built the remaining flat blocks to bring it to a total of 10 flat blocks, each designed to look like a house.

CML Society acquisition marks an era of little change, but lots of neglect of maintenance. Gardens remain relatively unchanged.


Major changes occur by Education Department. Three buildings demolished, some buildings with extensive alterations internally, a few have minor alterations. Site falls into further maintenance issues. Gardens remain relatively unchanged. Works do not follow Burra Charter principles per se, but intervention by City of St Kilda halts further demolition or substantial change to external fabric.

Private apartments 

No further buildings are demolished. Existing ones extensively altered internally to create smaller apartments. Front and side elevations restored. New work includes extensions/alterations to rear elevations of many of the existing buildings, in a manner which does follow the Burra Charter’s principles of respecting the “cultural significance of the place” by sitting alongside the original fabric, in a more contemporary but still similar style. New work is clearly identifiable.

Four new buildings added, including with a gym and swimming pool, and these works are perhaps not quite so defined as contemporary works in places, but overall they adhere to the Burra Charter principles.


It’s tempting to think Lady Luck has continually thrown a sprinkling of protective dust over the Ardoch development. At so many points in its history, it could have all been so detrimental. The fact that it remains as an incredibly beautiful garden flat community to this day is in part due to these factors:

  1. Younger chose to work with, rather than demolish Dunquhurn.
  2. Younger chose to retain much of the garden & grounds of Dunquhurn, retaining some of the trees, and subdividing the property into generous allotments, while retaining the ownership himself, which allowed him to control the style of architecture and scope of buildings.
  3. Younger built the new flat buildings to look like individual houses, set in (and facing) generous gardens, rather than maximising the plot ratio for a more substantial return on rent.
  4. Armstrong chose to continue the development in a similar architectural style, maintaining the generosity of the gardens. His new buildings also faced onto the gardens.
  5. Even though the property was not maintained properly during the CML Society ownership, at least they did not substantially alter it. Most of the damage appears to have been internal, which while unfortunate, did not at least detract from the overall park-like setting for the buildings.
  6. Education Department tenure was a low point in Ardoch’s history from an architectural standpoint (culturally, it was a very important part of Melbourne’s history as a place to support disadvantaged children, which of itself is also part of its cultural significance), but at least not much was demolished or altered externally.
  7. Thanks to the tenacity of the City of St Kilda, changes by the Education Department were minimal (externally) and Two conservation studies were commissioned, as documentary support to encourage Ardoch to be placed on the Register of Historic Buildings.
  8. The Urban Land Authority applied due diligence in commissioning a very thorough Conservation Management Plan, which they then included in the contract with the joint venture partner. The resulting development adhered to the Burra Charter principles generally. Personally, I would have preferred if more of the interiors had been retained, but it was understandable that alterations occurred in order to make the project financially viable (ie smaller apartments to create more apartments overall).
  9. Finally, it is lucky that the residents of Ardoch take an active interest in celebrating and protecting the heritage of the place.