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

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

A walk along Victoria Street (part 1)

Victoria Street is one of my favourite suburban streets. It runs from west to east across the top of the city, forming the southern boundary first of North Melbourne and then Carlton, as far as Nicholson Street where it becomes Victoria Parade. A walk along this street reveals diverse architecture, intriguing ghost signs and a few good street art sites.

I picked up my walk at the western end of Victoria Street, close to Guest’s biscuit factory, just outside the old Mulcahys pub, a moderne hotel built in the 1920s which has now been converted into apartments. (I need to create a keyboard shortcut for that phrase as I blog about Melbourne, so frequently does it occur. From now on, Ctrl+A = converted into apartments.) Continue reading