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5 Hidden Architectural Wonders Of Melbourne

Stepped in history, the streets of Melbourne play host to architectural delights from every era, among them a solid crop of internationally recognised beauties. But what about the ones you haven’t heard of before? Here are five Melbourne architectural wonders awaiting your discovery. Archilovers rejoice!

#1 Library at the Dock – Victoria Harbour

An eye-catching part of Victoria Harbour’s development is ‘Library at the Dock’ – a library and community centre for the modern era. The work of Hayball and Clare Design, it’s sustainably-constructed and super light, as the country’s first public building to be crafted from cross laminated timber (CLT). Here, they created solid panels from layers of timber, resulting in a lightweight structure that could sit right on the water with zero disturbance to the 75-year-old wharf below.

#2 Victoria University Queen St Campus

There’s no doubt Victoria Uni’s Law School building is fittingly impressive for studious pursuits, its heritage-listed facade presiding grandly over Queen Street. Originally used to house official records, this 1900-built beauty bears that classic French Second Empire style, and historic features like an elaborate marble staircase, a collection of zinc gargoyles, and stately Corinthian columns can still be seen today.

#3 Nicholas Building – CBD

Sitting amongst the diverse structures of Swanston Street, the Nicholas Building is one of Melbourne’s underrated Art Deco icons, designed by influential architect Harry Norris and knocked up in 1926. A huge name in the 1920’s, Norris drew much of his inspiration from buildings he’d seen overseas, and you’ll spy lots of his work across Melbourne. Featuring nine levels of offices and a vaulted retail arcade with Renaissance styling, the Nicholas Building is chock full of architectural gems; from colonnades and heavy cornicing, to Ionic pilasters and lead-lighting.  

#4 Grossi Florentino

Culinary institution Grossi Florentino is as famed for its food as it is for the building it’s housed in; a heritage space that boasts some truly remarkable features. Much of the Bourke Street spot’s current styling is thanks to a hefty 1930 refurbishment, during which renowned artist Napier Waller was commissioned for the series of Florence-inspired murals you see today. Other carryovers from that era include Picton Hopkins’ lavish ceiling plaster work, and the hand-forged wrought iron lighting that Emilio Gavotto crafted to grace the walls.

#5 Abbotsford Convent Breezeway

Amongst a sprawling collection of buildings that’s brimming with history, The Abbotsford Convent Breezeway is a nod to the present. The work of Jackson Clements Burrows Architects, this 2013 addition is effectively a short-cut between buildings, though thanks to clever design, it also celebrates the existing, disused structures. The contemporary, timber-and-steel tunnel uses vertical battens to either hide or reveal glimpses into the decrepit interiors along each side, as you’re pushed through.

Image source: Victoria Harbour, Wikimedia, Nicholas Building, Jacksons Clements Burrows, True Local, Broadsheet. 

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