Open House Melbourne 2015

08/11/2015 at 2:50 AM (Architecture, Buildings, Events, Melbourne, Photography) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Well, it’s been a long time since my last post. I’ve been busy travelling on the weekends & reading less on my commute but this does mean I’ve built up an arsenal of photos.  Anyway on a cold blustery winter weekend, I had my boyfriend accompany me to the 2015 Open House Melbourne. I don’t repeat buildings I’ve previously visited so I managed to make it to 10 new venues this time.

Melbourne Cricket Ground 

© Sarasi Peiris

First on the agenda was the Melbourne Cricket Ground Tour at 10 AM. While it also included a walk to external spaces of the Tennis Centre precinct and AAMI park, the tour didn’t quite meet my expectations as it was meant to also include visits to the player change rooms, pitch and the long room. We did get to stand in the members reserve section to take photos though. Apart from that, the tour attendees were provided insight into the logistics of running events at the MCG and treated to some interesting trivia including the etymology of the phrase “hat trick”. After I returned home, there was an email apologising about the tour having changed from the one originally advertised but I guess we did attend for free.

DesignInc

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© Sarasi Peiris

We only left the MCG at a quarter to eleven so I decided to fit in a couple of CBD buildings. The second building I visited was an open plan work space utilised by an architecture and design firm, DesignInc. It is located within the former GPO building but access was interesting as it required entry through a lane I previously didn’t even know about, Postal Lane. There is also an external courtyard and greenery through the use of plants was a defining feature. The studio explained how they had to work with H & M to preserve the heritage features of the old GPO while also allowing it the functionalities of a retail space.

Council House 2 (CH2) 

© Sarasi Peiris

After walking down one more block, we lined up in the queue for the 10-storey Council House 2 (CH2) as it only took 20 people every 20 minutes. A man walking past commented, “What are you lining up for? breakfast? “. He was a bit off the mark given it was almost 12.30 pm at that point. After viewing a presentation featuring how green technologies were incorporated into the office design which you can see more of here, we were able to make a trip to the rooftop garden using a combination of the lift and several flights of stairs.

Government House

© Sarasi Peiris

Next on my itinerary was Government House, the largest residential building in Australia, which served as the official residence of the Governor of Victoria after it was completed in 1876. The House which was designed by architect William Wardell now is also used as a venue for constitutional, ceremonial and community events. The 11 hectares of gardens which has survived its original design by Joseph Sayce in 1873 was later subject to several  improvements by William Guilfoyle through the use of exotic varieties of plants. Ceremonial trees planted by various members of the royal family line the main drive because foreign dignitaries can often be guests of Government House.  

Luna Park

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© Sarasi Peiris

Lucky last was our 3.30 PM behind-the-scenes tour of Luna Park. I would have squeezed in another building but the boyfriend was really hungry so we stopped to refuel him. This tour led us to through a secret door which held the old Scenic Railway which is 102 years old, to the inside of the restored 100-year-old Carousel and through the tracks of the Ghost Train, which was previously called The Pretzel. We were also taken to a newly built open-floor function space which provided a good view of the park and even beyond to St Kilda beach. My highlight was learning that the taxidermy dog in the Ghost Train section was donated by an old lady who wanted her beloved pet immortalised as a ghost.

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© Sarasi Peiris

Given this was the last year the horses were to be stationed at the operational headquarters of the Mounted Police in Victoria, this large stable building drew in a large crowd and hence created a long wait; I lined up at 10.05 AM and got in to the tour at 11.15 AM. The police in Victoria have used horses since the Military Mounted Police rode into the colony in 1836 and the establishment of Victoria Police in 1853 brought several mounted units together and created a cohesive whole. Horse and rider numbers increased until they reached a peak period in early 1900 with 211 stations but the introduction of the motorcar brought about their gradual decline and downfall. The best part of the tour was watching the horses demo playing soccer.

Argus Building

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© Sarasi Peiris

This building was originally designed as a home for the Argus newspaper between 1924 and 1926.  During its burgeoning period, 700 staff members occupied this building. After the newspaper closed in 1957, the place was used for several purposes which unfortunately resulted in permanent changes to the original facade, interiors and central light well. It is now home to the CBD campus of the Melbourne Institute of Technology. The only original interior that survived is the restored former Advertising Hall.

Hotel Windsor

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© Sarasi Peiris

This hotel designed by architect Charles Webb used to be called The Grand but was renamed The Windsor after His Royal Highness Edward, Prince of Wales visited in 1920. It is the only surviving example of an opulent 19th century luxury hotel in Melbourne. When first constructed and it opened its doors in 1883, it was one of Victoria’s largest hotels. It is also a precursor to all the following grand hotels: The Savoy, London; The Ritz, Paris; Plaza, New York. Unfortunately self-guided tours only granted access to the Grand Ballroom and the majority of the lobby.

Eildon Mansion

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© Sarasi Peiris

Given most of the Route 3a and 16 trams weren’t operating or were subject to delays, the only way I was able to get to this Renaissance Revival style mansion which was built in the 19th century, was by taking the Route 96 tram. This mansion was owned by Mr Ferit Ymer from 1951 where he and his wife raised their six kids while also running a boarding house between the 1950s and 1980s. Accommodation was specifically created for singles, couples or new immigrants to Melbourne. However in later years this business declined and the clientage started to become backpackers after extensive restorations by two of the owners sons in 2004. Now it is home to the Alliance Francaise who had organised lots of fun activities for the day including a French breakfast, scavenger hunt for parents and kids and free 30-minute French lessons at set times throughout the day.

Esplanade Vaults

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© Sarasi Peiris

When the new cable tramway replaced the old horse-drawn omnibus on St Kilda’s Upper Esplanade, the roadway had to widened to allow for the tram tracks. This enabled 10 shops with arched ceilings and verandahs to face the Sea Baths on the Lower Esplanade. The shops sold merchandise suited to a seaside locale such as ice-cream, confectionery, fish & chips and swimwear and a projector displayed old photographs depicting such scenes inside the vaults. Tea rooms were also part of the shops. However while the tramway became a success, the shop verandahs were removed in the 1950s and the vaults bricked up when Jacka Boulevard needed widening in the 1970s.

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Sand Sculptures – Storyland

08/02/2014 at 4:58 PM (Art, Books, Photography) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I attended the annual sand sculpture exhibition in Frankston this year too which was themed after Penguin book titles for kids.

The sculpture below greeted me at the entrance letting me know I was entering Storyland.

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As I walked around, I saw the sculpture below of Postman Pat and his van. Although Postman Pat started as a British animated television series for children, over 12 million books about him have been sold. Postman Pat is about the adventures of the postie as he goes about delivering mail.

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Next there was a sculpture of Charlotte’s Web. It is a novel for children written by E.B. Williams and illustrated by Garth Williams. It is a story about a pig called Wilbur and his friendship with an intelligent spider called Charlotte.

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Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

The sculpture below was unfamiliar to me but I thought the design was spectacular. It depicts the Flower Fairies, based on the books and illustrations of Cicely Mary Barker. The children in her illustrations are modeled on students who attended her sister’s kindergarten.

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Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

I was familiar with the below sculpture as I had previously owned a Little Miss Sunshine T-shirt. The sculpture is a tower of Mr. Men and Little Miss characters. All of them have self-descriptive personality traits.

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Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

Below is a sculpture of Where the Wild Things Are which was originally written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak. If you’ve not yet read the book or seen the movie, it is about a boy called Max who retreats into a world of imagination after he creates havoc at home and is sent to bed.

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The sculpture below is of Ferdinand, the bull. This bull prefers to smell flowers rather than fight. The children’s novel about him was written by Munro Leaf and illustrated by Robert Lawson.

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Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

The next sculpture made me feel sentimental because I used to watch Angelina Ballerina cartoons having once been a ballet kid. Angelina Ballerina was created by writer Katherine Holabird and is illustrated by Helen Craig. It is about the adventures of a mouse who dreams about becoming a prima ballerina.

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Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

The interesting sculpture below pays tribute to The Discovery of Dragons which is authored and illustrated by Graeme Base. It is written as a series of tongue-in-cheek letters from “discoverers” of dragon species in the world and features European, Asiatic and Tropical dragons.

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Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

The picture below features several characters you might recognise from the books of Beatrix Potter including Peter Rabbit. He was named after a pet she used to have called Peter Piper.

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Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

The quality of the picture below is not up to par so I apologise. It features the story written and illustrated by Eric Carle, about The Very Hungry Caterpillar who ate his way into becoming a beautiful butterfly.

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Next we see homage has been paid to the tales of Pippi Longstocking, the children’s series by Swedish author Astrid Lindgren. Pippi is a feisty nine-year-old girl with unconventional ideas and superhuman strength who takes her neighbours on adventures.

Pippi

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

The sculpture I came to next brought Narnia to life through the medium of sand.  Here we see a representation of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the fantasy novel by C.S. Lewis.

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The next exhibit had me puzzled until the display informed me this showed Hairy Maclary. So it turns out New Zealand author Dane Lynley Dodd writes a children’s series about a fictional dog and his exploits against an opponent cat.

Hairymclary

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

The sculpture below portrays Jumanji. Before the movie, there was a book which was written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg. For those not in the know, it is about a magical board game.

Jumanji

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

The sculpture below should be easily recognisable to anyone who watched the cartoons about him. It shows Spot the Dog and his friends. The books about Spot were written by Eric Hill.

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I loved the next sculpture because it showed a book I loved and adored as a child, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which was written by Roald Dahl. The story was inspired by the writer’s experience of chocolate companies during his schooldays.

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Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

The next sculpture was interesting as it was based on a video-game rather than a book. I guess Angry Birds represents the childhood of the present.

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Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

Fortunately the next sculpture was more in my element as it was based on a fantasy book loved by children and adults, the story of the bespectacled boy wizard, Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling. The level of detail in the caricature of the characters was amazing.

HarryPotter

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

Harry Potter

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

Harry Potter

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

Having seen the exhibitions for Toytopia, Creepy Crawlies and now Storyland, I can’t wait for the upcoming theme for the sand sculptures next April: Friends, Foes and Superheroes.

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Open House Melbourne 2014

07/28/2014 at 12:56 PM (Architecture, Photography) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Last weekend was Open House Weekend 2014 which meant I was in for long trips and waiting in queues if I were to make my destinations. Armed with camera, water bottle, some fruit and a big book, I started my adventure of exploring the buildings in my city and their history. While I waited in line for an hour sometimes, I made great progress with my book while snacking on mandarins. On my third Open House journey I was prepared and succeeded in making it to 10 buildings so you can see the results of my efforts of traveling across Melbourne below.

Victoria Barracks

Victoria Barracks

© Sarasi Peiris

This year, I was lucky enough to win the ballot for Victoria Barracks. It was constructed in 1856 on land regarded as unusable swamp and has a long history of defence activity. The headquarters for the Imperial Army and Victorian Military Forces were located here in colonial times. After Federation, strategic decisions took place here, for the Boer War, World War I and II and the Korean War, in the War Cabinet Room which still looks as it used to be, with seats preserved from the time of Robert Menzies until the defence administration was moved to Canberra in the 1950s. Heritage buildings here include an original bluestone soldiers barracks, a former military hospital, The Barracks Heritage Centre which used to be a guardhouse, the Staff Sergeants Quarters built in 1858 which became the first RAAF headquarters in 1921, the armoury and ordnance buildings from 1860 and the basalt ‘Keep’ which became a wine cellar. There is even a chapel which gave accommodation to married couples in the military forces.

Parliament House

Parliament House

© Sarasi Peiris

My next port of call was Parliament House for which there was a 1 hour wait and an evacuation to the rear entrance due to a protest rally. Plans for Parliament House were drawn in November 1855. In 1856, construction first commenced for the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council Chambers. In 1861, the Parliamentary library came into existence. The Vestibule and Queen’s Hall were built later in 1879. Designed by architect Peter Kerr, the original plans have yet to come to fruition because a dome should be sitting on top of the Vestibule.

German Lutheran Trinity Church

Stained Glass Window in german Lutheran Trinity Church

© Sarasi Peiris

This church pays homage to the Gothic Revival movement and designed by architect Charles Blachmann. The church is built of bluestone and was constructed by Heinrich Goedecke, a gold rush era migrant from Germany. The magnificent stained glass windows are striking and depicts biblical stories. Surprisingly, the ceiling of the Lutheran church resembles the inverted hull of a ship which is not a typical feature of German churches. The altar is  in the middle of the sanctuary and forms half of a decagon.

No 1 Spring Street

Shell Mace sculpture

© Sarasi Peiris

In the exterior plaza, I am greeted by the sculpture Shell Mace designed by Charles O. Perry who has designed other objects of art such as a collection of jewelry and silver for Tiffany, chess sets, and puzzles. The floor plates in the shape of a shell, acknowledge the original tenants, the Australian head office of Royal Dutch Shell. The building was designed by Harry Seidler, an ambassador of European Modernist architecture in Australia. In the foyer, an enamel mural by Arthur Boyd based on the painting Bathers and Pulpit Rock occupies an awkward space close to the ceiling. Meanwhile in the office on level 15 which houses the Department of Planning and Infrastructure, the windows overlook a magnificent panorama of the city gardens, MCG and the Yarra.

St Patrick’s Cathedral

St Patrick's Cathedral

© Sarasi Peiris

This church is considered one of the largest Gothic Revival churches and is the largest building of its style in Victoria. It looks like the ancient, medieval cathedrals in England and is perhaps due to the influence of the architect William Wardell. In the church, the altar mosaics and the eagle lectern made of brass were built in Venice. The cross on the main spire was a gift  from the Irish government.

Limelight Studios and Salvation Army Heritage Centre

Limelight Studios and Salvation Army Heritage Centre

© Sarasi Peiris

The Salvation Army purchased Attic Limelight Studio when the YMCA became unable to maintain the premises due to foreclosure. Afterwards Captain Joseph Perry used it for a while as a photographic studio. Under the encouragement of Herbert Booth, Perry started to produce motion picture films and gave birth to the Limelight Department. About 400 films were made here until 1909. The most well-known production made here was ‘Soldiers of the Cross’. The studio still remains preserved and now houses the Salvation Army Heritage Centre.

Melbourne Synagogue

Melbourne Synagogue

© Sarasi Peiris

Built between 1928-1930 influenced by Nahum Barnet, it has a beautiful interior design with leadlight windows dating back to the 70s. The twentieth century Baroque classicism shows in the ornate exterior with its Corinthian columns in the entryway. It often is referred to as the Cathedral Synagogue. The congregation reached full membership in 1946 after some 15,000 European Jewish migrants came to Australia.

Australian Tapestry Workshop

Australian Tapestry Workshop

© Sarasi Peiris

The Australian Tapestry Workshop was established in 1976 and uses the same techniques employed in Europe since the 14th century in the creation of contemporary, hand-woven tapestries. It employs weavers who are trained artists so works of art that are unique can be created instead of a reproduced design which is weaved. More than 400 tapestries have created here including in collaboration with international artists. Tapestries are woven using fine Australian wool which is dyed onsite to a palette of 366 colours.

Portable Iron Houses

Portable Iron Houses

© Sarasi Peiris

These portable iron houses are pre-fabricated homes migrants brought with them when gold was discovered in Victoria in 1851. There are three preserved houses: Patterson, Bellhouse and Abercrombie. Patterson is still located on its original site, Bellhouse was saved from demolition in Fitzroy and Abercrombie was rescued from North Melbourne. These houses were a common sight during the 19th century but now are quite rare.

South Melbourne Town Hall

South Melbourne Town Hall

© Sarasi Peiris

When it opened in 1880, this splendid building, designed by Charles Webb, housed a courthouse, a firehouse, a post office, a library and a council office. It is located in Emerald Hill which was a site of significance for indigenous communities ahead of European settlement. Currently the Town Hall facilities are mainly used by the Australian National Academy of Music but the rooms I got to view included the Council Chambers, the Mayor’s room, the auditorium and the Ballantyne Room which was gifted a beautiful chandelier.

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Jan 30 2013

01/31/2013 at 10:29 AM (Uncategorized) ()

Charming petals

Charming petals

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Jan 29 2013

01/30/2013 at 10:21 AM (Uncategorized) ()

Park Gazebo

Park Gazebo

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Jan 28 2013

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Jan 28 2013

Berry touch

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Jan 27 2013

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Jan 26 2013

Wisp of blue

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Jan 26 2013

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Jan 26 2013

Snake in the Tidal River Overlook track at Wilsons Prom

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Jan 25 2013

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Jan 25 2013

Exquisite macarons at the Lindt cafe.

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Jan 24 2013

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Postcard Berwick

Postcard Berwick

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