Last Sunday

The Melbourne Design Festival is on at the moment, and as part of it, last Sunday there was an ‘Open House’ day when members of the general public could get to see inside some of Melbourne’s favourite pieces of architecture, such as the Manchester Unity building.

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So Tiny and I got all excited, and cycled into the city to do a little sightseeing, before he headed off to work, and I went back home to work on my latest writing project (a research report on one of my ensembles). We figured we’d spend a couple of hours checking out some inspiring architecture, having lunch, and hanging out the way normal people who have proper weekends do.

I was particularly keen to see inside the Russell Place Substation. We arranged to cycle past that one first. To our horror, there was a queue snaking its way out of Russell Place and into Bourke St. “Let’s go straight to the Manchester Unity Building,” Tiny suggested, so we cycled directly there.

But the queues were even longer. In fact, it was quite bizarre – the majority of people queuing were teenage girls. Why are teenage girls so interested in the Manchester Unity Building, I wondered? But no, it turned out they were queuing for some under-18s gig at the Hi Fi Bar (on Swanston St), opening shortly. Once we rounded the corner into Collins St, we saw a crowd of (Gen X and above) people wearing overcoats and gloves (instead of mini skirts), and carrying copies of The Age. Suffice it to say, this was our crowd…

But that queue was even longer…

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We didn’t do any sightseeing in the end. We had lunch, and marvelled at the idea that all these people felt so free with their Sunday time that they could spend a couple of hours standing in a queue and think nothing of it. Unlike the pair of us, who were on Tight Schedules….

So we contented ourselves with following the Characters and Spaces tour in the Festival guide, which was well worth checking out. We liked this wall at the back of the Centre Place arcade, with its evenly spaced Helvetica characters that spell out “We live in a society that sets inordinate value on consumer goods and services” – an odd statement to find in a shopping arcade, to be sure.

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And we peered away happily at the detail in the mosaic on the facade of the old Newspaper House building – it contains such prosaic things as lamp-posts, and telegraph poles.

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I like this view I took of people walking through the arcade.

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But next year we will go online and book a time to visit the open houses. And hopefully not be quite as busy.

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