Thursday, 23 July 2009

Donkey Wheel? Why? - Melbourne Open House 2009

Ok ... on the spur of a moment, we decided to haul ass over to the city for Melbourne Open House 2009. We went last year and had such a great time clambering around on top of the Manchester Unity building, and there were certainly more buildings open this time round, and I made sure bladders were emptied and a bottle of water was packed in my bag in anticipation of long snaking queues.
We decided to start at CBD West - being mindful of time and the fact that there was probably more parking this end, which there was.
First Stop - Denmark house - billed as the "heartbeat of Danish culture" in Melbourne, I had high hopes of loads of danish design eye candy, of which there was some, but not enough to make it that memorable:
 Denmark house

I gather this operates as a Private club for Danish expats and Danophiles alike ... it does reek money of the stylish kind ... and the furniture and fittings are suitably indicative of that innate style that scandie's have for clean forms and textures:
What struck me the most was the wintry sun outside cool industrial window frames ... it was great seeing stylish people walking the streets with blue maps in hand and many with scarily serious digital slr's in hand or draped round necks ... I wanted to talk to all of them and have them over for tea ... this is the exact opposite of what I feel when I am traipsing through the shiny plastic halls of knifepoint!!
Next stop - the Donkey Wheel!! And why is it called the Donkey Wheel - I couldn't find an explanation anywhere and I forgot to ask the nice tall stretch of water on duty in the old ballroom space.
It used to belong to the the Melbourne Tramway and Omnibus Company and dates back to 1891 - this is apparently Gothic revival style, but I'm a bit of a luddite when it comes to Architectural Styles so it just looks like a really cool old building to me:
I think this would have been the most interesting of the lot. Only because there is still a real sense of history in its dilapidation. The basement areas are being developed as some kind of art space, so there are a few, lets just call them, installations lurking in the catacombs, including something that looked like globiles of my sensodyne toothpaste:
And yes there is a prismic effect with the glass tiles at the top, coupled with the slope of white tile below, it is meant to channel/funnel light from street level into the dingy areas below.
The Upstairs ballroom are is of course much lighter and airy ... not really sure what this space was used for. There's a sizeable kitchen and shower and toilet facilities as well as lots of ladders leading up to lofts ... which was of course off limits to the general public ... typical! ... bastards!
The highlight was using the old lift sans lift operator ...

We decided to give the Mission to Seafarers a miss as we really wanted to go to the T&G building, which on hindsight was a mistake. P went to the Seafarers with his Mum M (Hi Mum!) and he said it was pretty good. We went to T&G and saw the colour changing glass dome (big deal!) and some glass blocks (yawn!):
There was a modern take on light refraction going on in the atrium with the glass bricks:

And a water feature which provided a good opp for one of my shoe pics:

But we wanted to see the old, not the fucking new!!! No let me rephrase that, we wanted to go to parts where the general public don't normally have access to, otherwise what is the point!!
So as we walked past the Collins Street Baptist church (also part of the open house), we decided to recharge with a coffee and a biscuit (both pretty darn good with proceeds going to the church) in the glassed in foyer:
We took some time perusing the church itself ... it was strangely welcoming ... I would consider going to a church as pretty as this ... a few of what PT would have termed "Family" were also having a look and one of them gave us a lovely hello. Bless!
We tried to then get into the Substation - and it was the first long queue we had encountered and they had already blocked this off. So mental note - next year head straight to the Blockbuster events first!! Its the ones where you're taken in by a guide that have the longest queues. You had to put on protective garb for this one which adds to the time factor. Anyhoo, not having success with the Substation, we headed down to the Capitol Cinema and joined the line there. It was only about a 15 min wait but listening to that first volunteer who started the tour off with an introduction seemed interminable!!! Thankfully our other 2 guides were sprightly enough. But here again, its still pretty much a working cinema, so if you wanted to see the interior you just have to attend a screening at MIFF. However, they did show us some parts of the building that are not as easily accessible, and gave us insight into how things used to look, which really would have been pretty amazing:

But its the patterned ceiling in the main complex that is the star turn, and to think they were once illuminated by different coloured lights.


Temasek wrote:
Oh I thought this was someone giving me the answer to why its called Donkey Wheel!! Its sorta of an exhibition. You just get the programme and work out a schedule with the map. Most of the buildings have a tour of some description. Have a look at the website. Just had coffee with P. And yes he's good.
29 July
dan cope wrote:
I need help.. Is this an exhibition or are you just staring into buildings. How is P? Yes I know... x
28 Jul


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