Marvellous Buildings of Melbourne

We tend to forget that Melbourne is only 179 years old. Founded by colonial settlers on the traditional lands of the Kulin nation, the new city’s great good fortune came about not only  from the gold that fueled its growth, but also from the vision that drove its planners.

They built Melbourne according to a thoughtful design that created wide boulevards and verdant parks. The grand buildings that lined these boulevards were an expression of the city’s wealth, and represented the most impressive architecture of the day. “Marvellous Melbourne” as it came to be known, expanded rapidly to become by 1890, the second largest city in the British empire after London.

Within the grid laid down by the founding fathers, Melbourne’s skyline has since changed dramatically and ever more rapidly. The old heritage buildings that remain are now nestled  between skyscrapers. Victorian architecture stands side by side with a profusion of architectural styles that have been in vogue over the years – including Colonial Regency, Victorian Italianate, Art Deco, Neo-Gothic, Internationalist, Modern, and Post-Modern.

Melburnians and tourists are fascinated by this array of architecture and seize opportunities to explore the buildings in this city. One of the best opportunities is Open House Melbourne, when the month of July is dedicated to the exploration of Melbourne’s design and architecture. In one weekend event, 100 buildings are thrown open to the public. Thousands rush from building to building. Hundreds queue for hours waiting patiently for entry. Access to some buildings is restricted because they are working offices. There are even buildings restricted to only 10 people in total because they are so susceptible to damage. Hundreds of people enter ballots for a rare tour of these restricted buildings.

WomanGoingPlaces  took part in this event to bring you images of some of these buildings in our video presentation. We photographed a range of architectural styles  including the Manchester Unity building, an extraordinary example of Skyscaper Gothic built in 1932; the Windsor Hotel built in 1883, the oldest hotel in Australia; the 150 year-old Treasury building where the gold bullion found in the goldfields of Victoria was stored; the gorgeous Block Arcade of 1892; Harry Seidler’s 1988 building with its enamel mural by Arthur Boyd at No.1 Spring St. that heralded the European Modernist style in Australia; and Federation Square that recently won recognition as the 6th best square in the world.

Our access to buildings also enabled us to photograph aspects of Melbourne’s skyline of which most people are unaware and cannot observe as they hurry along the streets on their daily routine.

Even if you missed Open House this year or did not get to see as many buildings as you would have liked, you can still continue to visit many buildings. The Open House Melbourne printed program provides extended information on each building including its history, architectural features, significant stories, location and interesting facts. It is a valuable resource that has a life outside of the annual event weekend as it allows you to create your own Melbourne architectural walking tour year round. (See link below)

Marvellous Buildings of Melbourne photographer – David Zycher

Editor of video & post writer – Augustine Zycher

Music – Albare ‘No Love Lost’ from the CD  ‘The Road Ahead’

See the Gallery for the names of the buildings in the video.

For a map of where all the buildings included in Open House Melbourne are situated go to




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