|Southern Cross Station. Photo ©Darren Bradley
In fact, I really didn't have much time to take photos at all. My day job got in the way and I spent most of my time sitting in an office and various conference rooms in several Australian cities. In case you're curious, conference rooms in Australia look just like conference rooms in America. I didn't bother to photograph any of those.
|Photo ©Darren Bradley
But I did have a couple of days in both Melbourne and Sydney to see the sights and spend time with friends. I'll post a few entries about that over the next couple of weeks. First up is Melbourne, where I spent the first couple of days after my arrival.
|Another view of the Melbourne Museum - Looking towards the main entrance this time. I liked those crazy wings overhanging the plaza, and covering the Forest Gallery (previous photo). Photo ©Darren Bradley
I am familiar with Australia but had never been to Melbourne. Everyone told me I should go. "Lots of great architecture to see there!", said just about every person who's ever been there. "The most European city in Australia!" and "Best food and coffee scene in Australia" are the other two facts that everyone seems to know and recite whenever the age old topic of Sydney vs. Melbourne comes up. I made a point of testing all of those claims thoroughly. This will be about the first one, though: architecture.
There's no doubt about it- there's lots of modern architecture in Melbourne. You'd be hard pressed to find very much of it built before about ten or twenty years ago, however. There's very, very little mid-20th century modern architecture there. Before somebody writes me a note to tell me about this or that building, let me say that yes, I know there is some - including some great towers. But still, it's relatively little compared to other cities of its size.
|The Royal Mail House (1963) stood out as one of the rare modernist high rise towers in the central business district of Melbourne. It's a beauty. Photo ©Darren Bradley
I've been told it's because Melbourne was much more conservative than Sydney in that regard. Yes, there are beautiful modernist homes in and around Melbourne, and there were fantastic architects working there in the post-war period (Roy Grounds, Peter McIntyre, and Robin Boyd are three that come to mind). And they did fantastic work. But they were limited to private homes, for the most part, and did very few large projects (I guess Roy Grounds is the exception to that rule... more on him later).
Anyway, I didn't have a car and really only explored the central business district (the Aussies call their downtown core of all their cities the CBD). And there, I was hard pressed to find much modern architecture built before about 1970. But there were a few things. Here are some of the examples:
|I figured if I was going to find mid-century modern architecture anywhere in Melbourne, the local university would be a good place to start. I was right. This building is apparently by the former staff architect on campus during the 1960s - Rae Featherstone. Thanks to Rohan Storey for the info. I couldn't find anything on him. By the way, the University of Melbourne is "Australia's Most Prestigious University". Photo ©Darren Bradley
|Converted church near the apartment I rented in East Melbourne. Photo ©Darren Bradley
|Modernist apartment building from the 50s or 60s, most likely. Seems well cared for. I just found it while walking one morning. Photo ©Darren Bradley
OK, last one for now (but plenty more soon!). I walked over to the Olympic Park, site of the 1956 Summer Olympiad (which actually took place during our winter because of the hemisphere thing - little trivia for you...). I figured "1956... Olympics... must be a fair amount of modernist architecture over there." Nope. The Australian government refused to pay for the games so re-using existing facilities was the name of the game. Apparently, there was only one purpose-built structure for those games- this swimming pool:
Enough for now. Part 2 of Melbourne tomorrow or whenever I get a chance to write it.