On the 30th and 31st of July in Melbourne, we had a special event called Open House Weekend. It unlocks buildings of our city so you can access them on those days only. We are allowed into these spaces with guides providing insights into the importance of these buildings whether it’s significance is being of historical importance, engineering based feat or architectural design. For myself, I only had the Saturday free to explore so I made it to the six buildings featured below. As today is August 19th here, World Photography Day, I thought I’ll share some special photos of Melbourne, as it’s my part of the world.
The Origin Roof Garden
This was my first port of call. After wandering like a lost tourist up and down the road several times, I found the queue for this in Flinders Lane. This was designed by Jamie Durie (who’s of Sri Lankan descent like me) after his team were inspired by the trend which included forming of green spaces within urban centres. The lucky employees at Origin use this private garden in the sky to enjoy yoga, tai chi and other activities.
Myer Mural Hall
This was my fourth stop all the way in Bourke St. It is located on the 6th floor of the retail giant Myer. It is a huge hall designed to hold 550 people with walls decorated with large murals, depicting women through the ages, painted by artist Napier Waller. The murals which were painted at Waller’s studio at Fairy Hills in Ivanhoe and then brought to Melbourne took one whole year to complete. The dining room is significant because this is a rare and intact example of Streamline Moderne style department store dining room in Australia.
RMIT Storey Hall
This is a very striking example of Melbourne architecture because of how dominant the colour green is here. It is because it used to be called the Hiberian Hall. Irish Catholics felt ignored by the Protestant population in Melbourne because they were denied access to the largest public halls for meetings. So they built this hall in 1887 . It was used for pacificist and anti-conscription rallies during WWI and used as a commune during the General Strike of 1917.
The Pixel Building, which is named after its attention-grabbing pixellated exterior facade, is now where the former Carlton United Brewery used to be. This building of four storeys which was designed by Studio 505 cost a cool 6 million dollars. It uses wind turbines on the roof and employs a grey water recycling system with reed beds on each level. It aims to become Australia’s first carbon neutral office building.
Melbourne City Baths
In early Melbourne, municipal baths were necessary as private houses had little in the way of private bathing facilities. Built in the early part of the 20th century, this is a distinctive Edwardian Baroque building which was designed by architect JJ Clark. If you look at the signage at the City Baths, you will see on the exterior of the building that there were separate entrances for men and women. On the second floor, there’s a balcony which features historical photographs of times past and you can see the men’s pool from the balcony.
National Gallery of Victoria
The NGV was designed by Roy Grounds, an Australian architect. It was the first major public building to be constructed in Victoria in the fifty years following WWI and the first new art gallery to be constructed in Australia after WWII. It features an abstract ceiling of multicoloured glass by artist Leonard French, which really took a beating during the hailstorms. The entire building is surrounded by a moat. The water feature at the entry, where water flows down a glass screen, called the Water Wall is your first glimpse of interior art.