Friday, March 26, 2010

Save the Windsor Rally

I was at the rally yesterday and there was a decent turn out. I'm terrible at guessing crowd numbers but maybe 150 people? Enough to fill the steps and crowd the pavement. Rod Quantock MC'ed, and various people spoke including Bob Brown. Who promised to make it a national issue. I also hope that The Greens make it an election issue. They came very close to winning the seat of Melbourne in the last election and I hope that if they could campaign on issues like this then maybe they would unseat Bronwyn Pike. Some of the liberal members also spoke but I am a bit cynical about their motivations, they were more focused on the corruption in the planning process and one man in particular seemed to be very obviously avoiding stating that he was against the proposal for The Windsor.

I am very against for a few reasons. I believe that a huge tower tacked on the back of The Windsor will ruin its appearance, the way the the sun shimmers over its facade will be lost and the grand hotel will sit uncomfortably in the shadow of a glass monolith.  I think the design itself is boring and completely insensitive to The Windsor, it speaks of an architect who wants to dominate a low rise area with a  statement building, not try and work sensitively with what is already there. The issue here is not simply about a single building but about good urban planning, about how buildings sit in relation to one another. Tall buildings in Melbourne's grid plan create wind tunnels and shade streets for much of the day. Lonsdale St beside the QV is a good example, the BHP billiton building funnels the wind along the street and keeps the street cafes in shade almost all day.  It's all a bit depressing. Melbourne has places for high rise buildings, like docklands and Southbank and the other end of the CBD, we need to retain low rise areas as well. Many cities have very successfully kept strict height limits, and these have led to very creative and inventive pieces of architecture. Anyway here are some pictures, I particularly like my one of the Madden Mad Hatter towering over the Windsor so I have made a new badge to replace my now defunct Save Lonsdale House Badge.

The relevance of the Alice in Wonderland characters is that Madden is the Mad Hatter (naturally). Brumby is the March Hare and Heritage Victoria is the Dormouse, asleep at the table. Alice represented the public, confused and treated with contempt.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

British Archive of Old Signs

Remember that old sign I posted a few weeks ago? Well I was reading in The Guardian about an archive of 'Ghostsigns'.

Painted signs were once common but have been replaced by printed billboards, and those that survive are fading fast, or being demolished during building work.
Project manager Sam Roberts has documented over 650 painted 'ghostsigns' around the country, with the help of interested photographers through the Ghostsigns Flickr group.
A flickr group seems like a good idea, maybe the Melbourne map of old signs 'Our Fading Past' should also have a flickr group. Thoughts?(Possibly there may be something like this already that I have missed!)

Some of the signs I have photographed...

Lt Lonsdale St, Melbourne

 Gertrude St, Fitzroy

Gore St, Fitzroy

Friday, March 19, 2010

Snapshot, Carlton.

Photos of a slightly damp Carlton Gardens. It is closed off now for the STUPID Flower and Garden Show, which is so commercial and all about selling boring patios and watering cans. I really don't see why most of the exhibits couldn't be set up inside in the Exhibition Centre, or the Exhibition Buildings. It is basically a trade fair. There is a good piece here from The Greens about it back in 2008 and the same points still stand. I ranted about it last year. It mainly makes me cross because it damages the gardens so much. A lot of the grass still hadn't recovered from last year and it is now being covered in bricks and pavilions. Plus it is a public space, so many people walk in those gardens every day, or sit and eat lunch. for people in the inner city these are our green spaces, we don't necessarily have backyards. The gardens are closed off from Wednesday 17th March till Wednesday 31st. I might work up a longer post about it later, or I might write about Chaumont, which is a proper garden festival rather than just a glorified gardening shop. Actually the fact that it is such a rubbish event annoys me too. Other festivals like the Food and Wine festival encourage creativity and celebrate really interesting chefs and whatnot, but the garden festival doesn't do that, it celebrates very mediocre mass market gardens.

Telstra building in a puddle.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Snapshot, Sydney

The old Police Court on Liverpool St in Sydney. It was designed by W. L. Vernon and completed in 1892.

Monday, March 1, 2010

'Garters and Petticoats' - Portraits of Victoria and Albert

A talk coming up at Melbourne Uni that might interest some of my readers.

Click the image to see the full size poster. You can also view the original post here:

I should say that I help run the fine arts network website and I recommend it to you if you have an interest in art history. It includes details of art history events (focused on Melbourne), new research databases, funding, conferences and journals.

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