Victoriana

The transformations of Collingwood

To walk around Collingwood, more than perhaps any other suburb, is to be made aware of change.

Changes in society, architecture, industry. Changes in where we live, what we wear, what we drink.

There used to be dozens of factories here. Boot and shoe manufacturers. Wool carders, spinners and scourers. They’ve gone, to be replaced by fashion wholesalers selling imported threads.

The massive Foy and Gibson buildings on Oxford Street are home to apartments and coffee houses, rare and fine wine merchants.

Spaces get reinvented, sometimes imaginatively.  Continue reading

Advertisements

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

Industrial reminders: Kensington to North Melbourne

I walked from Kensington through North Melbourne on a quiet, warm Sunday in March. Melbourne is basically a Victorian city and when you look around this part of town there are many reminders of its industrial history, including some fine buildings of the practical rather than ornate variety. Continue reading