Heritage & Sustainability
The Owners Corporation Committee acknowledges the Traditional Owners, the heritage of the building as well as planning for the future, taking practical steps towards sustainability. Initiatives are many and varied.
Art deco renovations in the foyer, art works on the Russell Street façade, waste and recycling improvements, a worm farm in the carpark, LED lighting in corridors, solar panels on the roof and a social media page for owners and residents to talk to one another, are all part of the Committee’s ongoing to commitment to the place and the people of Hero.
The Sustainability section here gives you details about our ongoing improvements to waste management with practical guidance for residents and visitors.
Acknowledging the Traditional Owners
A plaque acknowledging the Traditional Owners is on the wall near the entrance to the Russell Street foyer.
‘The Hero Apartment Building Community respectfully acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land on which we stand, the Boon Wurrung and Woiwurrung (Wurundjeri) peoples of the Kulin Nation. We pay respect to their Elders, past, present and emerging.’
The Indigenous Heritage of our land, the beginning of Melbourne, the bustle of Russell Street, the life of the Russell Street Exchange and Post Office make the Hero Apartment Building interesting and special.
Indigenous Clans along the Yarra
The Boon Wurrung and Woiwurrung (Wurundjeri) peoples of the Kulin Nation have lived along the banks of the Yarra for some 40,000 years, probably many more. Where Russell Street meets the river has been Birrurung Marr, ‘river of mists’ or ‘river bank’ in the Woiwurrung language of the Wurrundjeri people for all that time. With its traditional name reinstated, Birrurung Marr stands marking the place of some of the longest living cultures on the planet.
The Beginning of Melbourne
In 1835 John Batman and his associates arrived from Tasmania. Batman was the commissioned agent of the Port Phillip Bay Association, a private venture funded by the ambitious British Officers in charge of Tasmania, then the penal colony of Van Diemen’s Land.
Batman’s arrival was enabled by a dodgy ‘treaty’, supposedly negotiated with the Clans of the Kulin Nation. It turned out that the Treaty was not officially recognised, with the following waves of settlers threatening the very existence of the Local Clans, destroying their cultures, economies and taking over their land.
At first the settlement established on the Yarra by the Port Phillip Bay Association was illegal by anyone’s account. It was not sanctioned by the Governor of NSW, nor was it sanctioned by the British Government. It was a pretty wild place but there was no going back. Within months the British Government changed its mind and one of their own, Captain William Lonsdale was sent to see that law and order British style prevailed!
This was the beginning of Melbourne, officially named after the British Prime Minister of the time on April 10 1837 by the Governor of NSW, Richard Bourke. It was a predictable, traditional name, marking it as part of the British Empire. Earlier names were rather more local, not at all of the Empire. They were ‘Batmania’ after John Batman, and Bearbrass with many variations, perhaps distortions of ‘Birrarung’ of the Local Woiwurrung language.
Russell Street on the 1837 Melbourne City Grid
Russell Street had its beginnings as part of the original central grid of Melbourne’s CBD designed by Surveyor Robert Hoddle, in 1837. It was named after the British Home Secretary at the time, later to become British Prime Minister, Lord Russell.
A Bustling Street since 1837
Russell Street has been home to all sorts of organizations, public, private, commercial and charitable. Over time heavy and light industries sat next to each other, across the street from stone masons, car-yards, churches, pubs, cafes, dressmakers, perhaps a Madam with a parlor or so.
The 1859 Victorian Trades Hall Council Building and Eight-hour Day statue still stand to the north, where Russell Street turns into Lygon Street. The Melbourne Gaol of Ned Kelly fame sits next to the old Magistrates’ Courts, now all part of RMIT University and the tourist trail. The 1943 Art Deco Russell Street Police Headquarters across the street is now apartments.
The early Melbourne Hospital on Lonsdale Street has been replaced by the Queen Victoria Shopping complex. The 1854 Museum on Russell Street is now integrated with the original 1854 State Library. Further south, the Temperance League, established in 1857 was prominent along the street and powerful for decades, but no longer.
Russell Street Telephone Exchange and Post Office 1954 to 1990s
Russell Street Telephone Exchange and Post Office Building was designed in the 1940s by the Commonwealth Department of Works. Construction began in 1948, finished in 1954, the first public building opened in Melbourne after World War II. Its eight levels hit the height limit of the time, 132 feet, 40.2336 metres.
- The Exchange kept the telephones working across the City’s East for decades. The Post Office had a mail distribution hall.
- In the 1960s commercial offices, executive rooms, a popular staff canteen and a stylish Cocktail Room occupied upper levels.
- By the early 1990s its future was up for grabs. The Exchange was to be up-dated or sold off, no longer able to compete with revolutions in communications technologies. The decision was made. It was up for sale!
- A spectacular art exhibition extended over the very high walls of the empty building after it was decommissioned in the late 1990s. It marked the end of its role as a Telephone Exchange and Post Office with a new beginning around the corner.
- It was to become home to Inner City Melbourne apartment dwellers, retail and hospitality outlets.
A Retrofitted National Trust Building**
The Hero Apartment Building is a retrofitted heritage listed building designed by architects, Fender Katsalidis, completed in 2001. It hosts 149 apartments, plant and infrastructure, shops and cafes along the street level with crisscrossing tunnels underneath. A National Trust Plaque sits underneath a replica of the original ‘Russell Street Post Office’ sign on the front façade.
** The Heritage Place Report indicates Hero has H1State Status, number 65570 on the Victorian Heritage Data Base, known as ‘Hermes’.
Art at Hero
There are art pieces and other surprises at Hero:
- The bas-relief sculpture on the front façade is of Mercury, Roman God of Communications in the embrace of an Earth Mother like figure. This is the combined work of Melbourne’s leading sculptors of the 1950s, Hammond and Allan when the building was under construction. Above the bas-relief sits a big bold barcode. Both pieces remind us of the role of the building as a communications and information hub.
- In the centre of the façade is a long canvas of contemporary art works, a joint project of Hero and the City of Melbourne. Inside, the Russell Street foyer has been renovated with hints of both its industrial beginnings as a Telephone Exchange and its Ground Floor business as a Post Office
- Out on the Russell Street median strip a fancy piece of bronze and green metal looks like a funnel with a crown on top. It was commissioned by Telstra in partnership with the City of Melbourne in 1995. This is a sculpture with a secret. It not only provides the street with some fascination and public art. It functions as the outlet for air escaping from the historic telephone cable tunnels which remain underneath Hero and its streets and lanes.
Around Hero’s Footprint
Around where the Hero Apartment Building now stands has been a place of many people with many purposes.
Across Little Collins Stonemasons made tombstones before Preston Motors, Stotts Business College, then St Michaels and 120 Collins Street came to call the Little Collins Street and Russell Street Corner home.
The Eastern Market
Along Little Collins Street to the east was the large, elegant Eastern Market, ’Paddy’s Market’. From 1847 it traded in all goods, fresh and otherwise. It was demolished in 1960 after its reputation for nefarious incidents, colourful but dubious characters and failing finances made it unviable. The Southern Cross, Melbourne’s first big time, international Hotel took its place in 1962. The Hotel hosted the Beatles in 1964, did big business for 30 years, closed in 1995 and was demolished in 2003. State Government Offices, serviced apartments and boutique hotels now occupy the area.
Burke and Wills
In the heyday of the Eastern Market, in 1866, the very first piece of outdoor public art in Melbourne had its first home in the middle of the nearby intersection of Russell and Collins Streets, then a round-about. This was the much-admired statue of the ill-fated explorers Burke and Wills.
Belt and corset makers plied their trade next to printers and cafes. In the 1930s local ABC Radio Station 3LO was upstairs, next door in Melbourne Place before the Kelvin Club took over in the 1950s.
From the late 1930s until after WW II, before the Russell Street Telephone Exchange and Post Office Building was constructed our Hero address provided various public services. An earlier modest Post Office stood on Hero’s footprint with a Transmission Branch and a Depot of the PMG, the Post Master General’s Department.
Sustainability At Hero
Sustainability is about caring for the environment, community wellbeing, with sound finances and responsible decision making. All who live work and visit Hero have a part to play in this, making Hero a forward looking, well managed building with a vibrant community.
Projects and Partnerships
Reducing environmental footprints and costs are becoming more important to many city communities. Over many years Hero has partnered with the City of Melbourne, RMIT University, Swinburne University, Melbourne University and others, implementing projects around waste, energy, greening laneways, infrastructure efficiencies, community wellbeing and security.
Infrastructure Re-engineered and Solar
The controls of air and water flows have been re-engineered to improve efficiencies, and comfort in common areas. Efficient LED lighting has been installed in corridors and a 50KW system of 200 solar panels is on the roof, all helping to reduce power costs and environmental impacts.
Security and Communications
Upgrades to security and communications are part of ongoing improvements for the wellbeing, safety and security of the Community and the Building.
Sustainable Waste and Recycling
Waste and recycling systems at Hero are where residents and visitors are the most important players, helping to save the planet, contributing to the health and wellbeing of the community and reducing the costs of our operations.
- Please consider the health and safety of others, tidiness, Hero Rules and follow the instructions on signs at disposal sites
- No waste or recycling to be left on common areas
- Please avoid overloading waste and recycling bins & rooms
- Removalists are expected to take away leftover boxes and materials
- If waste bins are overloaded please email the Building Manager
Small Waste Rooms on Each Level
Waste & recycling rooms on each level, Coromandel Place end are cleared each day.
- Waste chutes are suitable for small sealed compostable bags
- The bin is for small recyclables, bottles cans, no plastic bags/large items, glass or metal
- The box on the wall is for batteries
- Larger items go to large bins on Level A of the carpark
- Please be aware these rooms and the chute are next to apartments so keep the noise to a minimum at all times and avoid placing rubbish down the chute late at night
Bins Level A of the Carpark
Large bins for waste & recycling are on level A of the carpark
- Green topped bins are for general waste, goes to landfill
- Yellow topped bins are for smaller recyclables, cans, bottles
- Bins are emptied each morning
- The large blue bin is for paper and cardboard
- The medium sized blue bin is for recycled electronics
The City of Melbourne takes away hard rubbish once each month
- Hard rubbish (unwanted white goods, furniture etc) is to be kept in apartments till collection day
- No hard rubbish is to be left in common areas or around the ‘Swap and Go’ shelves
- Hero hard rubbish collection days in Coromandel Place are the 4th Wednesday of each month after 2pm
The Worm Farm Level A of the Carpark
Organic matter can go to the worm bins Level A of the carpark east end
- Notices tell you what worms eat and who is hungry
- Worm juice and the castings are free
- Worms have reduced the amounts of our waste to landfill and the costs
‘Swap and Go’ Shelves & Charity Bins Level 1 of the Carpark
These shelves are meant for discarded items which may be used by others. Please no dumping of hard rubbish or broken, useless items.
Waste Chute Unit & Storage Ground Floor
The upgraded waste chute and bin storage room is located on the ground floor. Bins are taken out to Coromandel Place. Residents do not need to access.