Tuesday, June 29, 2010


If you were asked to list the great architectural cities of the world, which would you include? Chances are that Barcelona, Rome, Chicago, Istanbul or Beijing would get a mention. But what about Melbourne? For those of us too young to remember, it is surprising to discover that Melbourne was once internationally recognised for its Victorian (and other) architectural excellence.  Dishearteningly, many architectural treasures were demolished during the 1950s-1970s.  Some of these buildings had become inefficient, or even unsafe, warranting their demolition. However, a large proportion simply fell prey to a shortsighted view of progress. Dreary, boring, concrete office-blocks and carparks took their place.  Often these new buildings were themselves demolished after only a couple of years, adding insult to injury.

Beautiful Demolished Buildings (clockwise from top left): Scotts Hotel 444 Collins St; Colonial Mutual Life Building 316 Collins St; Federal Coffee Palace cnr Collins and King St

Other cities facing modernisation opted to build their business districts elsewhere, maintaining their unique heritage. This now pays dividends in terms of tourism and, dare I say, the morale of inhabitants who are surrounded by a daily sense of history and charm. How often do we mention the tiny ‘Paris End of Collins Street’ with praise when, once upon a time, that was most of the city? Of course it would be unrealistic and unfair to begrudge the people of the past for looking toward the future. Today we have the benefit of hindsight. Today we can explore harmonious ways of incorporating heritage with modern, efficient buildings. Today we are getting better at balancing preservation with progress – at least I hope.

In this blog, I aim to:

  • Spread awareness about balancing progress with preservation;
  • Celebrate surviving architectural treasures AND new buildings in Melbourne;
  • Discuss proposed plans for the city – exciting or ominous;
  • Reflect a sense of Melbourne’s unique style and inspire curiosity. 

Melbourne will never be ancient like Rome, nor exotic like Istanbul or Beijing. But as a Melbournian, I am passionate about the distinct and unpretentious style of the city. The architecture is diverse (Victorian, Edwardian, Art Deco, Postmodern, Green, and much more) and the city is vibrant with cafes, bars, galleries, laneways, boutiques, arcades, gardens and beautiful streets. Ultimately, it is this passion I hope to share. 



Eamonn said...

Hi there, excellent idea, and a great blog! Great start, keep up the good work!

GJ PARTY said...

Looking forward to walking around the city with you sometime soon to find new ideas for your blog!


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