Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Lonsdale House

Planning Minister in State Government is a difficult job. The Minister gets hated by many people and I am now a hater too.

I think it was Sunday when I was travelling down Swanston Street in a tram and I noticed graffiti on the eastern wall of Lonsdale House. How brave are the bad lads who risk life and limb by hanging down from a roof to paint their idiotic illegible nonsense on sides of buildings.

It occurred to me that I had never seen graffiti on Lonsdale House before. Why suddenly now? The answer came the next day when I learnt that Planning Minister Justin Madden has approved the demolition of what is a wonderful art deco style building.

It is an old tactic used be developers. Allow a building to become an eyesore to the extent that the general public will be pleased to see it knocked down. Just watch how much worse it will quickly become.

Regardless, it is a done deal. Lonsdale House is to be demolished unless their is a huge wave of public opposition. God, we have few enough old buildings left, let alone an Art Deco example. What a shame to get rid one more to be replaced with something that no one will protest about when it is demolished in thirty years time.

Madden, you are a soulless prick.

Photo courtesy www.melbourneheritage.com


  1. Anonymous12:32 am

    Strange I thought Melbourne took pride in preserving it's historic buildings. Somebody must be greasing the Planning Ministers palm.

    Bring back the Green Ban's I say.

  2. Architects and engineers seem to be able to create all sorts of modern useful buildings whilst maintaining historic facades. Maybe that could be an option here if the existing building cannot be put to use?

  3. Funny how my ramshackled little single bedroom terrace house in Carlton is about to drop it's facade into the street, but the heritage listing means there's very little than can be done to preserve it, short of hugely expensive underground-works which are the sole responsibility of the owners (sis and I), yet a gorgeous bulding like this is allowed to fall into disrepair allowing its unceremonious demolition.

    Often our state government ought to be ashamed of itself. Here's another prime example.

  4. A girlfriend told me about this yesterday, and in the subsequent email chat, we agreed that there must be a huge amount of money lining that man's pockets. When you look at what he's done so far, there have been quite a few dodgy sounding deals and agreements. This is icing. And shitty brown icing at that.

  5. If it sounds like shit, and it looks like shit, chances are, Madden's career as a State destroyer is shit.

  6. Yes yes Anon. Where is Mundy when you need him.

    Victor, I have seen some really silly attempts at facadeism but if done well, I am ok with it. My preference would be to gut the building internally and work within its outer walls.

    The odour of ratus Raelene? Well, that would be novel. I need to do some more reading on it.

    Rob, Madden certainly doesn't seem to keen to be liked. Of course, as usual, it is about votes and no doubt those who hate what he is doing don't live in swinging electorates.

  7. Mutant, many countries do assist owners' with financial help to maintain heritage buildings. Does not seem to happen here. I will watch media for a house collapsing in Carlton.

  8. I'll be sure to wave when that happens, considering my bedroom will - from that point on - be open to the street and the lovely news crews!

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  10. Anonymous3:58 pm

    This building is familiar but I can't quite place it. Is it at the top of Swanston Street, near RMIT? In any case, I agree it shouldn't be knocked down. If it's where I think it is, that part of Swanston Street has some lovely old buildings. Vik.

  11. Mutant, I'd better move my stalking up a gear so I am there when it happens.

    Jayne, I can't help but think the announcement of the demolition of Lonsdale House was linked to the announcement of a tower behind The Windsor.

    Surprise Vik. Lonsdale House is in Lonsdale Street. Weird hey. It is between Swanston Street and Myer. The photo does not show it, but Lonsdale house and trim is painted in green. The building next door is staying as is the Myer facade.

  12. Need to qualify that Vik. The words Lonsdale House are painted green and the darker line trim painting. I will take photos tomorrow.

  13. Anonymous10:45 pm

    Ah ok, now I can place it - fancy Lonsdale House being in Lonsdale Street!! I've been away from good ol' Melbourne town for too long...I'm forgetting the haunts of my youth! Vik.

  14. Yeah well, funny old white woman in northern Japan in year 2020 needs to remember her roots. Ok, you may have lived in St Kilda Road long before we thought of it. What's your point?

  15. Anonymous12:53 am

    2020? Old? I don't think so! Vik.

  16. Course Vik, you are only young...ish. 2025 then.

  17. I feel that Lonsdale House, whilst a nice building, is not an especially good example of Art Deco in Melbourne.

    However, I believe that it forms an integral part of the Lonsdale streetscape and for that reason should be retained. It's replacement with a modern building - no matter how elegant and well-designed - will ruin the continuity that currently exists.

    I have written a review on my blog here if you want a full explanation of my views: http://blog.adonline.id.au/lonsdale-house/

    I will be sorry to see Lonsdale House disappear.

  18. Thanks Adam. I had already read your say. It is all about streetscapes. A chunk goes here, a chunk is replaced there. Before you know it, nothing is worth saving bar an outstanding building and even then, we have lost so many.