Docklands, a large new development just west of the Central Business District, is a big space full of big buildings that hopes to attract tenants—–residential and commercial alike—in part through design. The Webb Bridge by Denton Corker Marshall is meant to mimic an aboriginal eel trap and is a fine addition to the neighborhood.
The tight, trendy, and often gritty laneways like Croft Alley attract enough of a crowd that their seedy origins never really cause much of a problem. A bar at the end of Croft Alley, the Croft Institute, is a humming watering hole and an exemplar of the city’s laneway culture.
On the other end of the high-design, high-budget spectrum, Southern Cross Station designed by Grimshaw Architects, is all swooping roofs and open space. Rather a nice spot to get stuck should your train run late.
Federation Square, a giant public plaza on the banks of the Yarra, manages to be both very high public design and a space where Melbourne actually gathers. The complex of buildings, by LAB Architecture, was the firm’s first built work.
Vault is perhaps Melbourne’s most reviled piece of public art. Rechristened the “Yellow Peril” when it debuted downtown in 1980, Ron Robertson-Swann’s work has moved twice since then. Now it resides outside the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art.
Cheaper rents and a populace with a rather lively sense of discovery have helped catapult Melbourne’s previously disused laneways to the fore of the city’s life. Now, an average afternoon stroll through the Central Business District requires a quick dodge into a passageway like Centre Place for a quick coffee or a bit of people watching.
Melbournians take their food and drink as seriously as their design. Cafes, bars, and restaurants that pay as much attention to what’s on the menu as what surrounds it abound. Liaison Cafe has a friendly, well-executed interior tucked away on tiny Ridgeway Place. It’s on the bottom floor of the geometric Monaco House by architects McBride Charles Ryan.
The headquarters of ANZ Bank are one of the big commercial anchors of the Docklands neighborhood. Its riverside location and large campus make it a fine addition to the rapidly developing part of town.
The Cathedral Arcade holds loads of Melbourne's shopping, including a delightfully unusual vintage store called Alice Euphemia. That's the shop where I scored my copy of the Melbourne Design Guide, which served as my tourist bible while I was there.
Our photographer Joao Canziani always has a knack for spotting colorful locals. Here's a portrait he took on the street of a man called Bruce Rook in Chinatown. Melbourne prides itself on a more eclectic, forward-looking sense of style than its beachy cousin Sydney.
The Citylink Freeway has all manner of massive sculpture and public art along it. This sculpture, which welcomes drivers to Melbourne, is by the architecture firm Denton Corker Marshall and went up in 1999.
One of the most beloved buildings in all of Melbourne is the State Library of Victoria. In 1853, architect Joseph Reed won the commission to design the building. Perhaps most famous and lovely is its La Trode Reading Room. It also houses the armor worn by Aussie folk hero Ned Kelly.