Light Industrial

Look, it’s art!

Alexander Knox has been commissioned by the City of Melbourne to turn the “I’m-sure-it’s-got-a-lovely-personality” Royal Mail House into something more striking. This 1967 structure is rapidly becoming one of Melbourne’s Ugliest Buildings since we’ve been tearing down everything else that displeases us, so it’s probably feeling in need of a bit of love. Knox‘s work uses lightboxes to produce moving colours across the face of the building.

According to the City Of Melbourne website, “The imagery, produced from abstracted video footage of the city’s light, colour and movement acts as a mimetic device, echoing and feeding off its surrounds. The striking installation becomes an integral part of the night scape, complementing the floodlit surroundings, creating an organic synthesis of movement and light. The title of the work is inspired by Lewis Carroll’s poem Phantasmagoria in which the author draws an insightful parallel between ghost and ourselves.”

I have no idea what that means, but who cares – it’s shiny. Here’s some more pics:

Ever wondered what this building replaced?

Yeah, who wants one of those? While we’re looking at dead hotels, here’s the vestibule of The Federal Hotel, south-west corner of Collins and King Streets.

And finally, The Happiest People In The World Ever have gathered in the dining room of The Menzies Hotel, formerly on the corner of Bourke and William Streets.

Historic images all come from the forums of Walking Melbourne. Alexander Knox’s maxims of behaviour can be seen on Royal Mail House, corner of Bourke and Swanston streets, from dusk each day.

11 Responses to Light Industrial

  1. Narrelle says:

    I saw the Royal Mail House lit up last night, on the walk back home from drinkies in a nice little 70s retro bar, the name of which I’ve forgotten. Something about recording equipment.

    Anyway, I saw the coloured lights and I mainly thought: “How adorable. Someone is trying to make that building less hideous by highlighting it in primary colours.” The sheer optimism of it, in face of all the odds, was somewhat endearing.

  2. Sam says:

    hhmmm, I’m afraid I’ve always liked this buidling – except for the more recent orange bits up the side and along the top. Speaking of lovely conversions, though, did you ever wonder what the Safeway on Smith St used to look like?

    yes, Fitzroy’s own Ikea!

  3. outlandinstitute says:

    Monster Furnishing Arcade! For all your Monster Furnishing needs – Melbourne’s Monster community has always been so organised, hasn’t it? Odd building though – all the windows seem to line up with floors… And where’s the rooftop car park?

    As for Royal mail House, I read someone else saying they liked it, referring to it’s “60s pop-art appeal”. I’ve can see what they’re referring to, in a way, but it still ends up a bit too concrete-y for me. Perhaps if the shop level still looked like this I’d like it more:

    That shop is called “Telepost”, but at first I thought it was called “Teleport” – remember when we used to have all those teleport shops all over the country? You’d get to Perth in a blink of an eye, but if a fly got in with you by mistake you’d never hear the end of it…

  4. Sam says:

    Fantastic – much better than subways etc, and if we still had snazzy silver phone boxes everywhere we wouldn’t need mobiles with over priced and over complicated plans… though if they brought back the teleports that would be a good thing too.

  5. Tim says:

    Nice buildings. Coincidentally, I’m just reading A City Lost and Found: Whelan the Wrecker’s Melbourne by Robyn Annear. Loads of entertaining stories about places that are no longer there…

  6. Anne-Marie says:

    I worked in there for 2 years, but it wasn’t pretty then…..

  7. outlandinstitute says:

    Tim: Which book is that? I remember seeing a great/depressing coffee table book of Melbourne buildings that no longer exist, but that may be a different one.

    Anne-Marie: What did you do?

  8. Anne-Marie says:

    That was the Moomba years. City Of Melbourne had the floor just above the wavy bit.

  9. Janet says:

    All of Robyn Annear’s books are interesting. Bearbrass, her first book on Melbourne before it became Melbourne is good. So are the two Radical Melbourne books by Jeff Sparrow and Jill Sparrow.

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