A Melbourne Christmas

federation-square.jpg

Getting Federation Square for Christmas is probably only marginally more disappointing than getting a pair of socks.

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The Christmas tree in Swanston Street, with a couple of dead white blokes keeping watch just in front. If Melbourne loves anything (and it doesn’t), it’s statues of deceased chaps.  While Steve Bracks didn’t stay in charge long enough to get a statue, the executive of the Victorian Liberal Party machine can be seen on the corner of Bourke and Swanston Streets. Ouch, political.     

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Balloons in Federation Square. I’d suggest the balloons are trying to tell us something about the state of modern life, but fuck it.

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Posted in levity
44 comments on “A Melbourne Christmas
  1. philiptravers says:

    Glad I dont miss Melbourne much. A few people here and there, but Melbourne is now like the blubber found when whales swallow too many balloons!?How is the pigeon population!?Joined the Black Dog yet!?

  2. anthony says:

    I’d suggest the but is missing a t.

  3. Paul Burns says:

    Never having seen Federation Square in
    th flesh, so to speak, soes it work?
    Is it Great Art or an Architectural Mistake?

  4. Bukko in Melbo says:

    Now if they could only wrap the rest of the place similarly. And leave it that way for the rest of the year… It would be the gift that one never wants to unwrap.

    And Paul, Mrs. Bukko and I refer to the edifice as “Fred” Square. As in Fred Flintstone. I’m dating myself here, but in the 60s cartoon show, the intro showed Fred at work on his dinosaur, using it like a steam shovel to dig in a mine pit. The background of paleolithic cliffs and stones looked a lot like teh Fed.

  5. CK says:

    Can’t they fit the statues with some sort of voice replay thingamabob? “Oy, you! Get a haircut!” “Bloody louts.” “Get off the lawn!” That sort of thing.

  6. exilemerc says:

    The balloons are saying “what would we know about modern life? Do we *look* like a plastic bag blowing in the breeze to you, Einstein?”

  7. Dead White Bloke says:

    Where’s my statue?

    I don’t like this. I don’t like it one little bit.

  8. TimT says:

    To this day I have a number of items of clothing in my wardrobe that were bequeathed upon me from my aunts or my mother. Can’t say socks are included in that list, but I’d much rather my aunty give me a pair of socks than Federation Square. Great pictures, tho!

  9. philiptravers says:

    The R.S.L. even rejects the Advance Australia Fair anthem played by rock groups aka Jimi Hendrix Star Spangled Banner,times and country change but not the R.S.L. that must have a few rock fans.Off subject, I suppose, those subjects of the British Commonwealth as subject.Missing a t!? What is that about!?Rifle,goat or wearing blue jeans!?

  10. Paul Burns says:

    Architectural Disaster 4; Great Art 0.So far.
    Have i got it right?

  11. gummotrotsky says:

    It’s not the architectural disaster that the revamp of RMIT’s Storey Hall was. Personally, I think it doesn’t look too bad from the outside. Inside the NGV part is another story altogether – impossible to get your head around the layout and where the exits are.

  12. John Greenfield says:

    I enjoy visiting Melbourne for bars, clubbing, eating, and shoppong, but I would rather stick hot needles in my eyes than Xmas there. Quelle horreur!

  13. Katz says:

    No, it works for me. I wasn’t too keen on it at first, but I have grown to like it.

    Melbourne is flat and windy. The public areas of Fed Square are protected and knolly. And and Fed Square marries very successfully the Southbank precinct with the great sporting and entertainment precinct about a km upriver.

    Melburnians flock to Fed Square unlike to any other public space at any other time in the history of the city.

  14. TWOP has covered Fed Square before. Seems to polarise people very strongly. It’s too “Perth” for me. I hate it.
    http://perthworst.wordpress.com/2007/11/17/cultural-cringe-vs-fed-square/
    It is not improved by the wrapping either. You’d need Christo to get it to work I think.
    I think we have a worse political bronze though.
    http://perthworst.wordpress.com/2007/11/25/short-arm-syndrome/

  15. TimT says:

    It’s easy to flock to something that’s right next to Flinders Street Station and on the corner of St Kilda Road. Trouble with Fed Square is it sticks out like a sore thumb. The buildings it shares that corner with – Flinders Street Station, Young and Jackson and the Cathedral – are all in their own ways examples of Edwardian elegance. Fed Square should have been designed to fit in with this, or at least contrast in a pleasing manner. Instead, it was designed to look different and new, and is a consummate failure, architecturally.

    At least, I think so!

  16. RobWindt says:

    The architecture and social spaces leave me cold, the interior is confusing and the whole shebang hangs over the railyards leaving insufficient clearance for stacked container transport, in short it’s a committee triumph

  17. joe2 says:

    What better expanse could you find than this for a demo meeting place?

    In Autumn when the only decoration is a few leaves and people.

  18. adrian says:

    As a Sydneysider I can appreciate that FS, is at least an attempt to do something different, and I think it partially succeeds.

    In Sydney we only seem to get the one architectural style – Meriton apartment. It does however have a sub-style, Meriton supa size shopping centre. How to ruin an intrisically beautiful city.

  19. switchbacks says:

    Architects are usually ETFAFTOG.

    Thats Entirely Too F’in Arty For Their Own Good.

    At least the 2 that I dated were 😀

    If you think Fed Square is bad, check out the new Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. My girlfriend reckon it was about 4 years overdue and millions over budget, for what essentially looks like a fine victorian era building thats been hit with Optimus Prime…

  20. joe2 says:

    Hell, switchbacks, do not be so hard, it must have taken an extra 4 years to build that reproduction “fine victorian era building” to match that modest, up to date building, at the back.

  21. Helen says:

    Fed square is surrounded by a large area of paving of some attractive natual stone, sandstone or the local hornsfeldt or something creamy-browny-coloured. Instead of flat paving with steps, there is a natural and irregular slope, as if you are walking over a weathered sandstone outcrop somewhere near the sea. I love this, think it’s beautiful, but I think it’s very hard on people with disabilities, so I’m very ambivalent about it.

  22. Helen says:

    (2):

    A man came to the market where my SO sells t shirts on Saturday. SO didn’t see him because he came in while he’d dashed out for a quick lunch or to the bank, leaving the teenager helper he’d hired in charge. Teenager helper informed him that a man dressed in g string and bra and Santa hat – and nothing else – had come in and was swearing and very abusive and scary. A visitor to the market had ended up punching him because he wouldn’t stop his foul language after being asked (there were a few little kids there and they were getting pretty intimidated)

    Tonight we found an item in the news that the man had run off the the Nicholson street housing commission flats and had an altercation with police, who sprayed him with capsicum spray. He then jumped off a 14th floor balcony. There is a police enquiry pending now.]

    Back home, and our hot water system has just up and died. They won’t fix it, because it’s over 10 years old, and you know it’s just impossible to make appliances that can be repaired. So it’s $1400 tomorrow thanks very much.

    And on Pandagon, I’m reading about how people saying “Merry Christmas” is turning into a nasty little are-you-Christian-enough (or are you American enough) check, and people who don’t respond with a suitably Christian reply may just get their heads bashed in.

    And there’s an article in the Age on escalating consumer debt, because after all, Xmas is about shopping.

    Yeah, happy Christmas.

  23. David Tiley says:

    Fed Sq – weird, intimidating, pretentious architecture based on some dumb theory about sedimentation, federation and how we are best represented by Kimberley sandstone. But as soon as the people arrived, it turned out to be terrific. Now I think it is completely lovable. And while it may be in a great place to be a centre, that verandah thing outside the Gas and Fuel corporation was deserted. But then the Gas and Fuel looked like a twenty story piece of overcooked liver stood on its end.

  24. mbahnisch says:

    Speaking as someone who goes to Melb about once or twice a year at most, I quite like it. I can’t remember what used to be there before…

  25. CK says:

    Helen, I loathe and detest Christmas and all its commercial faux cheer and fake family facetiousness.

    I’m with you. It’s a plague.

  26. Ambigulous says:

    What was there before MarkB: two ugly office towers (Gas and Fuel), vast expanses of railway tracks. They say the promise “to cover the Jolimont railyards” weas a perennial State election campaign promise, always unfulfilled.

    Fed Square: pretentious, moi?? Barry Humphries nailed it: “It’s interesting to see what you can do with some crumpled kero tins and some old linoleum”. But people DO flock there, and I like the uneven, rocky surface, sloping down; and the very ample wide spaces betwen the buildings.

    I still think it’s ugly. But then I’m a bumpkin, and what would I know about the architectural achievements of my betters???

  27. TimT says:

    With the wide outdoor screen, the ACMI cinema, the bars, and the various gimmicks dotted about everywhere on its location, Fed Square is easy entertainment. But the people that do flock there are largely no different from any other inner-city crowd of passers-by – I’ve never really noticed it having its own community. A large portion of the visitors, in fact, would be drunkards from Young and Jackson, diagonally opposite.

    It’s interesting to hear that ‘the promise “to cover the Jolimont railyards” weas a perennial State election campaign promise, always unfulfilled’ I can see one of the interesting things about the Square’s design would have been to fit in with the industrial character of parts of Melbourne, including the railyards – so the high-tech digital messages on the walls, the grey metallic sheen, and the self-conscious chaotic placement of the buildings. Trouble is, I would have preferred a decent sighting of the railyards! Industry shouldn’t be hidden, much less turned into a faux, touristy parody of industry; it sucks the life out of a city.

    Argh, I’m curmudgeonly about it all right!!!

  28. Katz says:

    t’s easy to flock to something that’s right next to Flinders Street Station and on the corner of St Kilda Road. Trouble with Fed Square is it sticks out like a sore thumb. The buildings it shares that corner with – Flinders Street Station, Young and Jackson and the Cathedral – are all in their own ways examples of Edwardian elegance. Fed Square should have been designed to fit in with this, or at least contrast in a pleasing manner. Instead, it was designed to look different and new, and is a consummate failure, architecturally,

    Originally the plan called for two “shards” that were supposed to reflect, mimic, or “marry” to the two spires of St Paul’s directly opposite. But the “shards” were axed when some Anglicans bestirred themselves to decalre that said “shards” were a studied insult to Anglicanism, that is, to organised religion, that is, to God.

    The shards went, and the Anglican Church has not been heard from ever since.

  29. Darlene says:

    The pigeon population is huge, Philip. You know what I really hate; those blasted horses. They stink up Swanston Street something shocking.

    Thanks, Anthony, I think you’re right, but what can I say but butt.

    Paul, I like the insides of Fed Square (e.g. Australian Centre for the Moving Image), but the outside looks like a gigantic roast waiting to go into the oven.

    Fab idea, CK. Indeed there were some yoofs skateboarding behind the tree when I took that picture. The statues could say, “yoofs, when I was your age I was getting lost in the outback, so get off those skateboards and go bush”.

    exilemerc, tee hee, good one : ).

    Just wait “dead bloke”, you’ll get your statue. As long as you’ve got dangly bits and you’re dead, you’ll get a statue.

    RMIT Storey Hall is just ugly and weird. Yikes.

  30. Darlene says:

    So I take it Johnno G won’t be joining Melburnians for Christmas. Melburnians all go, “owwwww” or something.

    Katz, you’re right about Melburnians flocking to it. There’s always something on a Fed Square.

    You’re right about the paving, Helen, very unfriendly to the disabled (and no doubt pissed footy fans). Helen, I heard about the guy and his sad death. My first thought was that he was probably a mentally ill person. Yes, another dead mentally ill person (perhaps). What a last few hours he had.

    Frankly, it’s a relief just to ignore Christmas or at least the crap aspects of it. Julie Zemira was quoted in the newspaper yesterday as saying that her favourite Christmas day was the one where she just watched DVDs and cooked herself Italian.

    There’s nothing worse than consumerist boozed-up celebrations and forced frivolity and togetherness.

    I love Melbourne, Mark. Every so often I get a “I should move back to Brisbane” feeling, but whether I ever will or not, I don’t know.

    David, still don’t find Fed Square lovable, but it grows on one (kind of like a wart).

    “Fed Square: pretentious, moi?? Barry Humphries nailed it: “It’s interesting to see what you can do with some crumpled kero tins and some old linoleum”.”

    Thanks for citing old Barry, Ambigulous. Great quote.

    “Originally the plan called for two “shards” that were supposed to reflect, mimic, or “marry” to the two spires of St Paul’s directly opposite. But the “shards” were axed when some Anglicans bestirred themselves to decalre that said “shards” were a studied insult to Anglicanism, that is, to organised religion, that is, to God.

    The shards went, and the Anglican Church has not been heard from ever since.”

    Interesting stuff.

  31. John Greenfield says:

    CK

    Oh poor love. Can I give you a hug?

    Darlene

    Did you read my post on your Nancy review? And where is your blog?

  32. via collins says:

    Another big thumbs up for the Fed Sq complex.

    Fed Sq, and the entire Birrarung Marr/north side of the Yarra “spritzing up” instantly created a myriad of new views of the city.

    Sight lines that had previously been blocked by ugliness opened up, wide spaces let the imagination breathe, and I lurve the crazy paving that rolls all over the square.

    The fact that it drove Bolta to distraction was sheer cream….

  33. Andrew says:

    I’m looking at it right now from my office window – nice birds eye view. It looks just as ugly from this view as on the ground. What an incredible cock-up. It’s going to date dreadfully and looks completely out of kilter with the wonderfully art deco Flinders St station and beautiful cathedral across the street.

    Mind you – it’s better than the ugly office buildings that used to be there (the gas and fuel offices). It’s just a shame they didn’t make it more attractive. Lots of ugly stone and wierd crazy shapes – what’s wrong with lawns and gardens?

  34. CK says:

    “…what’s wrong with lawns and gardens?”

    Exactly Andrew. Just another example of plant racism from our pampered, latte sipping elites.

  35. Darlene says:

    Well, as something said, Fed Square does polarise.

    It will date, I agree. The cathedral is quite beautiful. Beautiful hymn singing as well.

    Of course, there’s a beautiful park just on the other side of the Yarra to Fed Square.

  36. Klaus K says:

    “what’s wrong with lawns and gardens?”

    There may be concerns with water use: lawns especially are very thirsty. I am always wary of the lack of vegetation or other shelter because in full summer sun, such places can become very unpleasant.

  37. Darlene says:

    “Exactly Andrew. Just another example of plant racism from our pampered, latte sipping elites.”

    Tee hee : )

    At this time of the year surely the latte sippers are cracking open the chardy instead.

  38. Paul Burns says:

    Andrew, Ck,
    You have to mow lawns and weed gardens.

  39. Nabakov says:

    While it’s true Fed Square does look like a poorly camouflaged Balkan munitions plant, it does have some good stuff in it. The Edge is a great performance space, NGV Australia does some very clever things with natural light and exhbition spaces and ACMI has some of the world’s best projection booths and its underground gallery reminds me of a zen nightclub. The piazza also works well tho’ it’s a shame they didn’t orient it on the river.

    But yes, overall the sum of its parts is greater than the whole.

  40. Ambigulous says:

    Si, piazza bellissima!
    La plaza es muy muy buena por los turistos y mucho mas.

    Salute to the Russian Fleet, Admiral Nabokov! How is the Tsar? Feeling better after that little head cold?

  41. Darlene says:

    A zen nightclub? Cripes, don’t think I ever went to one of them when I was a young ‘un. Perhaps the sound of The Angels was drowning out the zen. Good summation of Fed Square, Nabakov. Love ACMI and NGV etc

  42. Darlene says:

    Right, JG, I am reading your thoughts on “Nancy”.

  43. The Rockstar Philosopher says:

    Fed Square is AMAZING! The inside can be a little confusing, but that’s only because there’s several different buildings in there (which you can’t really tell from the outside). Once you get to the right bit, it’s easy (it’s the finding the right bit that’s hard).

    When it was being built, I was thinking “OMFG, what is this monstrosity?”, then one day someone pointed out it was finished, and I thought “Wow, awesome”.

    It’s different. It’s of it’s age. Tim T mentions the Edwardian buildings; if fed square was Edwardian, it would just be pastiche (and isn’t the cathedral gothic?).

    Can’t people remember the G&P buildings?

  44. darlenetaylor says:

    No, TRP. I was raised in Brisbane. No memory of the old buildings.

    Should look for some photos on the interweb.

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