There’s a terrific little exhibition on at the City Gallery, off the Melbourne Town Hall at the moment. It’s called ‘A History of the Future’ and it’s on until August 12.
I’ve always been drawn to things that didn’t happen. While I tut-tut at ‘what-if’ and speculative histories, deep down I enjoy them. This exhibition displays the plans of grand dreams that planners and architects have had for Melbourne that weren’t even built- and in most cases, I’d have to say “….and a good thing they weren’t, too”.
So there’s a giant hand-shaped building planned for what is now ACMI, between St Pauls and the Forum, with its index finger pointed skyward. “Nothing remotely like it in all the world!” proclaims the plan. That’s for sure. The finger nail of the index finger would contain an observation deck, while the thumb could contain a restaurant. “The hand is particularly beautiful from its palm side, conformed thusly with three fingers clasped and one pointing heavenward, it symbolizes nothing specifically, but many things generally.” Unlike a middle figure pointing heavenward.
There’s several plans for pedestrian walk-way elevated above the footpath, with escalators running up from road level. Or Robin Boyd’s plan for Bourke Street on five levels, the bottom consisting of public transport, then two levels of car parking, then finally cars going east and west.
For grand buildings, there could be a huge pyramid built beside the State Library (not unlike the one at the Louvre) or – most topically- a plan for the Queen Victoria Market in the 1970s that would have seen it enclosed completely, with a highrise government building erect on the Victoria/Therry Street corner. It doesn’t sound all that much different to what is being proposed by the City of Melbourne right now.
It’s a fun little exhibition, so spend a spare half-hour looking through it the next time you’re in town. It’s free and opening hours are Mon: 10am – 2pm ; Tue – Friday: 11am – 6pm and Sat: 10am – 4pm (closed Sunday) For a taster, here’s a slideshow: