Architecture

The real and the fake in Abbotsford

Something that strikes me often about the Melbourne suburbs is their quietness. Walk through most suburbs on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon and you won’t hear much at all, except traffic (on the busier roads), the occasional lawn mower or leaf blower, perhaps the remote sound of a TV, or the bark of a dog behind a gate. More than once I’ve asked myself: where is everybody? I encounter few other walkers as I make my way around, and occasionally feel oddly conspicuous as a solo pedestrian. Sometimes parks are busy, and certain shopping/cafe strips, but many places seem eerily deserted.

The suburbs are not totally silent, though. On the wall of the Collingwood Neighbourhood House in Perry Street I came across evidence of an intriguing psychogeography project: a list of sounds heard by Lauren Brown, ‘listener in residence’. Continue reading

Wandering North Carlton: modernism and Victoriana

Deciding to spend a little longer in North Carlton, I walked in a mini circle – a circle within the Circle, if you like – in a clockwise direction, roughly around the Melbourne General Cemetery. This part of town is rich in suburban iconography.

Walking north up Royal Parade you pass the sports pavilions of Princes Park. These two pavilions, designed by council architect R. N Belby and built in 1938, are stylish examples of suburban Melbourne modernism, with their clean lines, strong horizontals, the zig-zag wrought-iron gates, the plain but elegant lettering (I like the speed lines on the capital ‘P’) and the stylised heroic athlete over the door. Continue reading

The American architect and the angry donor

One of Melbourne’s most spectacular buildings, Newman College at the University of Melbourne, was the work chiefly of three people:

  • a young American architect who came to Australia to build something else.
  • an elderly Sydney lawyer, who did all he could to stop it being built.
  • a fiery Archbishop.

Continue reading

A walk along Victoria Street (part two)

Elizabeth Street marks the point on Victoria Street where you cross from North Melbourne into Carlton. As with the western section of Victoria Street, there’s a great diversity of things to see along here. I finished the last post with a reference to uncontrolled apartment construction. In contrast, on the other side of Elizabeth Street is the elegant former HQ of the Rechabites, a Victorian temperance society devoted to preventing the evils of strong drink. Continue reading

Functional fancy Flemington

The walk continued from the intersection of Union Street and Epsom Road in Ascot Vale, heading east and south into Flemington. Flemington has a plethora of buildings of all eras, from the fading Victorian shops of Racecourse Road to the rather totalitarian Melbourne Gateway created in the 1990s. But two starkly contrasting bits of architecture particularly interested me as I walked through it. Continue reading