A misguided bolt out of the blue

Everyone’s favourite neo-con commentator has taken a break from denying climate change to today take aim at Melbourne’s modern architecture. Obviously still basking in the post-coital glow of his recent vacation (if only it was permanent) Bolt waxes lyrical about some of the landmarks he has recently visited.

So I’ve just flown back from marvelling at the Coliseum in Rome, Schoenbrun Palace in Vienna and the Duomo in Milan with its hundreds of extravagant spires, each topped with a statue. The taxi from the airport is now taking me past Melbourne’s latest laughable attempt to build a landmark of its own – this time the Southern Star observation wheel.

Whilst I agree with his comments (I’m still feeling a little dirty) on the giant ferris wheel,  his comments regarding some of Melbourne’s more modern buildings are true to his neo-con roots.

We once could build pretty, of course, but trace our decline. We’ve gone from the elegant Exhibition Building to the barren barn of exhibition space that’s Jeff’s Shed. From the stately Flinders St station to the wave-roofed gimmick of Southern Cross station. From jewelled Regent Theatre to the scraped-bare sterility of the new Melbourne Recital Centre, yet another building ruined by our modish determination to make our public architecture reflect the barrenness of Australia’s deserts.

Sorry Andrew, but I think you may be getting the Melbourne Recital Centre and the Australia Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) mixed up – I would hardly call Melbourne Recital Centre sterile. In fact it’s one of Melbourne’s most exciting buildings of recent times. And even ACCA is one of the prime reasons why Melbourne is considered at the forefront of design in the world. And has Mr Bolt actually used Flinder Street Station of late? It’s in a sad need of a serious makeover and don’t ask me what happened when they closed the toilets for renovations last year. Hardly an architectural icon.

But how could a Herald Sun article miss out on attempt to have a cheap shot at Federation Square. I’m pretty sure they campaigned for the removal of the “shard”.

But it’s also true that on the few times Melbourne now tries to build beautifully – monumentally – it fails. Take Federation Square, all surly elbows and cringing in camouflage colours – just the building for a generation of neo-barbarians with lip rings and bum antlers.

Whilst it had its early issues, Federation Square is slowing becoming one of the best public spaces in Melbourne, if not Australia. Maybe he forgets the masses of people that constantly turn out for events within the public plaza on a weekly basis. Where else would they go for such events? Complimenting the plaza, is the brilliant NGV Australia, Atrium and ACMI.

I’m sorry Andrew Bolt. but if this best you can do on your first day back from holiday maybe you should stick to your old themes of climate change, queue jumping and Kevin Rudd bashing because your attempt at criticising Melbourne’s thriving architecture scene has fallen flat on its face.

Advertising architecture – update #1

I managed to have a quick look at the Advertisements for Architecture exhibition at Federation Square only moments before it was pulled down. I was impressed at the variety of responses that were on display and have included some of highlights for your viewing pleasure.





Also really liked the displays for the exhibition. I’m not sure if they were custom made for the exhibition or belong to Federation Square but they were impressive nonetheless.




Whilst killing some time before a screening at ACMI at Federation Square last night I took in “Volume”, an installation by UK-based United Visual Artists, known for their work with U2, Massive Attack, The Arctic Monkeys and Kylie Minogue. “Volume” forms part of Federation Square’s annual winter festival and celebration of community life centred around light. The installation involves a forest of LED columns that respond to human movement through changes in light combined with a soundtrack arranged by Neil Davidge and Robert Del Naja of Massive Attack. It’s been in action since June 4 2009 and will close on July 4 2009, so if you haven’t had a chance to experience it, time is running out.