Articles Grimshaw-led team creates Master Plan for one of Australia’s most significant tourism icons.

Working in close collaboration with Sovereign Hill Museums Association, Grimshaw has led a team of experts to create a 20-year staged Master Plan for Sovereign Hill, one of Australia’s most valuable tourism icons, located in Ballarat, Victoria.

Launched to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the not-for-profit Sovereign Hill Museums Association, the first phase of the plan seeks to build stronger connections to Victoria’s regional communities and cultural heritage through the Centre for Rare Arts and Forgotten Trades (CRAFT) in Ballarat. This nationally significant centre will enhance Sovereign Hill’s offer of replicated and participatory experiences while providing a space that brings together traditional and contemporary practices.

“The Master Plan encapsulates a vision for Sovereign Hill not only as tourism icon but as a significant cultural hub for Ballarat, and we are honoured to be able to contribute to the development of regional Victoria in this way,” said Neil Stonell, Managing Partner, Grimshaw.

“The Australian Centre for Rare Arts and Forgotten Trades is an exciting first stage for the Sovereign Hill Master Plan as it reflects the aspirations of a place which celebrates its identity and heritage through inclusivity, diversity and connection,” said Alison Potter, Principal, Grimshaw.

Considering two distinct sites, Golden Point and Narmbool, the Master Plan strengthens a historic landmark, tourism destination and major economic contributor for regional Victoria by supporting the delivery of key narratives - gold, humanity, ingenuity, rare trades and craft, and demonstrating a better future - to create a world-leading cultural institution which is unrivalled in Australia and inherently linked to the identity of the region.

Drawing upon the built and natural environment as well as the participatory engagement of visitors, the Grimshaw-led team has sought to achieve this through a proposition which considers the fine grain of the cherished Sovereign Hill experience, including areas for respite and reflection, shelter and nourishment, through to the opportunity for bold transformational experiences, all of which look to our past to create a better future for the people, communities and environments of regional Victoria.

The completion of CRAFT in 2022 will be followed by the Australian Centre of Gold Rush Collections and the Gold Pavilion, new signature experiences which will celebrate learning, reflection and connection, and allow the museum’s current collections store to be expanded. Together, these spaces will become an inviting and accessible prelude to the museum experience, as well as a new civic place for the community of Ballarat.

“As a proud collaborator, we have brought together a team with global knowledge and local understanding to create a regenerative and experience-focussed cultural master plan that seeks to rightly celebrate regional Victoria’s rich heritage, artisanship, and connection to landscape”, said Potter. 

The Master Plan will help pave the way for Sovereign Hill to be an exemplar of environmental practice, with initial stages targeting net zero waste, water and energy, and the proposed 20-year plan culminating in Sovereign Hill achieving net producer status.

Centre for Rare Arts and Forgotten Trades (CRAFT), Sovereign Hill Museums Association Master Plan, Grimshaw, 2020