Alexandra Lange
Architecture & design critic

Instagramming Around Australia

It’s been quite a while since architecture made my jaw drop. But it did, literally, as I walked down Swanston Street in Melbourne ten days ago. There, in the space of a few blocks, is a collection of buildings so bright, so prickly, so merchanical, so textural that they create their own context. RMIT University, a school of design and technology, has spent the last 20 years hiring local architects to design academic buildings of a type hard to imagine on any of the campuses I’ve studied on. The first on Swanston was Building 8 by Edmond & Corrigan completed in 1993. Its plastic, pastel interiors were described to me as being modeled on an Italian hill town, like the university work of Charles Moore. Its exterior, with tile patterns and palm tree cutouts, part of the diaspora of the ideas of Venturi & Scott Brown, with whom Peter Corrigan studied at Yale in the late 1960s. Edmond is Maggie Edmond, whom Wikipedia says is “probably the nation’s foremost female architect.” Building 8 was joined in 1996 by Storey Hall by ARM Architecture, then in 2011 by Building 22, also ARM. Across the street, a spiny commercial tower calls to the latest edition, Lyons’ Swanston Academic Building, which opened last year and is variously known as the Pineapple, the Porcupine and the Cheese Grater. My own photos of all of these, plus the Cheese, Sean Godsell’s willfully monochrome (yet still ornamented) RMIT Design Hub are in the slideshow below.