architecture

Fitzroy North or North Fitzroy?

I made my way east from Carlton North, and spent an afternoon wandering through the adjacent suburb of North Fitzroy. Or is it Fitzroy North?

Either way, it’s one of those suburbs where you feel a strong sense of the past. It’s a peaceful place of gently curving streets, established trees, Victorian streetscapes – some of them grand and Italianate Boom-style, some of them humble – corner shops, bluestone lanes, and public reserves. Unlike traditionally working class Fitzroy, North Fitzroy is residential not industrial. And it doesn’t seem to have changed all that much  – not as drastically as some suburbs, anyway. There’s a bit of a Victorian vibe.

The ghostsigns reflect the suburb’s residential identity. Continue reading

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Wandering Brunswick

The walk has become complicated. My plan of describing a simple circle around the city is made problematic by the thought of the suburbs I will inevitably miss on the way. It seems foolish to walk through Carlton and Fitzroy into Collingwood, then continue east without a backward glance at suburbs like Brunswick, where there’s so much to see. So I have decided to double back and make my way through a few slightly more northern suburbs.

The self-imposed rule of my project remains the same: each walk has to begin from a point where a previous one finished, so that ultimately all the walks will be connected, though the shape of the final walk may end up being more like a spider’s web than a circle.

This time I chose to continue my walk from the sports pavilions of Princes Park in Parkville, and headed northwards up Royal Parade towards Brunswick. Continue reading

Architectural extremes on Nicholson Street

One appealing aspect of walking the Melbourne suburbs is the way you pass through different eras within a short distance. Melbourne makes the walker into a time traveller, encountering Victorian mansions, deco swimming pools, brutalist office blocks and post-modern apartments within a few hundred metres of each other. Some cities have more internal consistency – many of the great boulevards and buildings of Paris, for example, were planned and built by Napoleon III’s great architect, Haussmann, in the mid-19th century, and remain today much as they were then. But I like the diversity of Melbourne. It’s a city that contains many cities within it.

Close together in Nicholson Street, Fitzroy, are two intriguing constructions that could hardly be more different. Stylistically and philosophically they are at opposite ends of a spectrum, but they are both worth a visit. 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