Today saw the inaugural Melbourne Open House. Based on the successful annual event in London, the Melbounre Open House featured 8 buildings within easy access of Fed square.
- Council House 2
- Melbourne Town Hall
- Capitol Theatre
- Capitol Theatre
- Manchester Unity Building
- Plaza Ballroom, Regent Theatre
- The Chapter House, St Paul's Cathedral
- St Paul's Cathedral
- The Labyrinth, Federation Square.
I queued for 90 mins to get into the Manchester Unity Building but it was worth it. Firstly we were taken to the roof terrace where we had great views over the Melbourne skyline and the tower of the building itself. Manchester Unity was designed by Marcus Barlow in 1929-32 and takes it's inspiration from Raymond Hood's Chicago Tribune Building.
The highlight was the Boardroom housing a huge table, the largest in Australia, topped with a thick sheet of Lalique glass.
Next I went to the Plaza Ballroom, beneath the Regent Theatre in Collins St. It is a large space so there was no queuing to see this amazing space. It dates from around 1929 by Cedric H Ballantyne but is not a style that I particularily like. Too ornate. I can appreciate it for what it is. The colours on the ceiling are incredible but it doesn't excite me like other buildings of this period.
Finally, I headed over to the Capitol Theatre, now owned by the RMIT University. Walter Burley & Marion Mahoney Griffin's 'crystal cavern' dating from 1921-24. In the foyer and canterlevered canopy over the street, it is a triumph of the square but inside the main auditorium it is a mass of geometric triangles and spikes. Originally light by thousands of coloured lights it is rare to see it lit up these days. It wasn't lit today but it is still a very impressive space.
I'm looking forward to a bigger and better Melbourne Open House in 2009.