Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Victorian State Offices by night, from the corner of Spring and Macquarie Streets.
1 Macarthur Street and 1 Treasury Place.
Designed by Yuncken Freeman.
Modern style?
From Treasury Place.

I can't decide what I think of these buildings. I definitely prefer the old treasury, but there is something alluring about them, no one else seems to agree. In fact people seem to think my newly discovered fascination in this architecture of the 1960s is a bit loopy.
Maybe it is the contrast to my study area of Baroque gardens.
Maybe it is the regularity, always satisfying. In the case of the Victorian State Offices and Premier's Office above the windows were actually designed to reflect the proportions of the neighbouring 19th century buildings.
I think it is also the fact that 1960s architecture photographs well, the designs themselves are all about light and shadow and repetitive pattern. My interest developed in a round about way. I read about a competition in Vogue magazine for fashion snaps. I'm not really particularly interested in fashion photography, but after having been to a few fashion shows with the 1960s inspired fashion of 2007 I started thinking about whether the clothes reflected the architecture and was playing with an idea to take photos of the outfits in and around the architecture of the period. I never did it but it started me thinking about the era, one I had previously disliked a lot, and I began to take photos of it.

This is one of the photos I took early last year of a building on Bourke St between Elizabeth and Queen is a case in point.

I had barely noticed this building till I set out on one of my taking photos afternoons. It is a rather innocuous side of a not particularly remarkable building, but when photographed in black and white patterns emerge. The regular white tile square columns are punctuated by the dark shadow on their thin side. Black circles (light fittings?) dot the ceiling.

They also emphasise one-point perspective, this is obvious in the photo above and the photo of 1 Treasury Place. Maybe that is also appealing to someone like me who spends so much time looking at set designs. They use the same repetitive form to exaggerate the depth of space.
But maybe comparing set designs for a Baroque festa in Vienna in the late seventeenth-century with modernist Melbourne architecture is starting to go a bit far.
Set Design for Il Pomo d'Oro, by Ludovico Burnacini, 1667, from the edition held in the Museo Teatrale alla Scala.


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