In the 164-year history of the Royal Society of Victoria, 8 October 2018 will be recorded as a significant date in our journey.
A group of about 16 people, including the Society’s Councillors, the senior team from Grocon and the leaders of Decibel Architecture, convened in the historic Burke & Wills Room to sign a Heads of Agreement, setting out the scope of our collaboration for our proposed Magic Project.
In this remarkable place of historical significance to Victoria’s heritage of scientific endeavour, we took the next step on the path to realising a future vision for Victoria’s scientific capabilities. In exploring the boundaries of what we can achieve on our small, CBD site, we embark on a new expedition; to be well planned, and with the appropriate expertise in the mix to lead us through as a community of members and supporters.
The “Magic” tower has occupied a lot of attention as a concept, as well it might – the “tallest building in the southern hemisphere” and the “world’s most slender tower” have been consistent claims in the various news articles circulating in recent months. However, we don’t yet know the final scale or character of the proposed triangular building at the tip of our block. The site remains unique, as does the architectural, engineering, business and planning challenge of realising the opportunity presented.
In approaching the prospect of development, we do so in a way that reflects our organisation’s character and principles. We are focussed on the Magic project setting a new benchmark for sustainable design and development. In the months ahead, we will be exploring the state of building systems for energy capture, storage and use, as well as water capture, retention and reticulation. We will be looking at how our entire site – both the vertical tower and the balance of the RSV’s grounds and facilities – can be designed to support urban biodiversity through incorporating ecological niches for diverse indigenous species, from wedgetail eagles to native bees, from hardy escarpment plantings to shade and moisture-loving gardens. We will be looking at how our existing buildings can be stabilised, refurbished, revitalised and extended to be fit for their contemporary purpose while celebrating their heritage character and history.
This is substantially new work in the development sector, and will require a translational research approach – the opportunities for involvement by some of Victoria’s outstanding scholars in the broad field of sustainable urban development are plain to see.
Most importantly, however, we will be looking at the Society’s evolving role in the State of Victoria; how we can advocate for the role of science in decision making and policy development; how we can assist communities, governments and industries to connect purposefully with the vast expertise of our large community of scientific practice; how we can support the many professionals and volunteers conducting science engagement work across the state; how we can truly celebrate and foster the achievements of Victoria’s teachers, students and scientists at every point of their career trajectory as an independent organisation; and how we can offer our members, partners and supporters an outstanding experience of fellowship, lifelong learning, exploration and enjoyment of new knowledge. This is the purpose of the development, and we must ensure any new financial capacity is clearly paired with the scope of activities such an endowment must support.
Thanks to our partnership with Grocon and Decibel, we now have this remarkable opportunity to bring the expertise on board required to get started; planners, convenors, communicators. Our sincere gratitude is extended to Dylan Brady for his remarkable vision, drive and advocacy, and to Daniel Grollo for truly recognising the unique potential of this grand, “for-purpose” project, lending the financial support of Grocon to the Society for commissioning the consultation and planning endeavour ahead of us.
David Zerman President, The Royal Society of Victoria