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St Kilda Town Hall

Walking along Carlisle street this arvo, I was somewhat shocked to see this:


Will they ever be done with that building. This time, the '60s offices that Ashton Raggat McDougall so carefully stitched into in 1992 have been blown away, allowing the council to build right up to Carlisle Street.


This image, either by John Golings or Trevor Mein, was published in Architecture Australia in 1995, in an article that describes the complex as a 'paradigm of palimpsest.' There have not been many decades since the building was erected in 1888 that have not seen alterations and additions.

The not-that-old makes way for the new. Williams Boag's $21M extension:

View from Carlisle Street

View from corner Carlisle Street and Chapel Street

Williams Boag's building attempts to hook onto ARM's 1992 building (which went to great pains to meld into the '60s building). So we end up with a twice-filtered version of the demolished '60s block. Now that's respect. The '60s building was lucky enough to have been built in the '60s and didn't need to ape the old - it focussed more attention on getting the bulk and scale right.

ARM went to town on the richness of the architectural history of the town hall and library, borrowing from Aalto when connecting to the '60s offices, and elsewhere incorporating elements from James Stirling's PoMo Neue Staatsgalerie, Richard Serra's Tilted Arc, and a Philip Johnson ceiling.

The vertical slats of the older two buildings are continued in the new, but they look pretty regimented and sober here. The '90s and '60s walls curved around a bit so that the shadows and rhythms of the slats changed along the length of an elevation. The new civic building is a lot more conservative and square, it looks llike a tight fit, like it doesn't have any space to spare for a curve.

The Port Phillip council bureaucracy must be expanding at a rapid clip to need a building of such a scale that it dwarfs the existing elements. Maybe they are expanding the planning department?

Anyhow, I hope that aren't really going to paint the bright green Tilted Arc ramp dark grey.



  • Sean
    edited January 1970
    this is a horrible retro design with little to no redeeming value.
    I much preferred what was already there, at least it didn't stick out like a sore thumb from the main road and ruin what is a great urban streetscape.
    What is more is that this area was screaming out for open space. They have taken a carpark, undergrounded it and built on top of it. Instead, they should have taken a the approach of setting the building back from the street, created a green space and put a building behind it.

    wake up architects. this is 2007, not 1956.
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