We caught the West Coburg tram to the top of the city and walked a new public housing building, Elizabeth Street Common Ground. CG is funded by Federal, State and Local Governments, developer GroCon and comprises studio flats and family flats. The studios are for the chronically homeless, etc etc etc. They were absolutely great. Rental for Centrelink benefit recipients will pay about $150 pw, working poor, $190. This includes all services. It meant to be long term accommodation, not short term emergency.
We saw three different studios. They were nicely decorated with all the basic features including hydronic heating and ceiling mounted cooling fans. The building has a central ventilation core and fresh air flows into each flat. All had balconies of varying standards, some with great city views.
My left side thinks it is a wonderful project that will benefit the less fortunate in our community for many years to come.
My right side thinks, I have worked hard all my life to get what I have and they get handed it on a platter.
City of Yarra has a strong involvement in the project and our two genial guides for our group of ten were Yarra employees. The building is far from finished and I wonder if the opening date in August will be met. Regardless, the project is ahead of schedule and under budget. Although the lifts were working, they did not have proper controls and so each required a driver with an intercom.
On the way there I snapped these two houses. The first just looks overwhelmed by the modern buildings surrounding it. The second looks very old, pre Victorian.
One of the views from Common Ground, followed by one of the children's play area on the roof. The building has an extensive roof top garden and other resident public areas.
Our next stop was to be the marvellous Gothic ANZ bank in Collins Street. I have been to the currency exchange in the building a couple of times of late. I just gaze at the interior in wonderment. For obvious reasons, we gave it a miss.
This one should be less popular surely. It was busy enough, but no queue. It is the Jamie Durie designed staff rooftop garden for Origin utility company employees in Flinders Lane near Elizabeth Street. It's a great staff facility.
Next was to be Council House 2, a purpose built environment friendly office building, but mile long queues there too. We took a break for lunch at the French Deli in Bourke Street. Delicious baguettes but very slow service.
Dare we try for another building? This one sounded interesting. Donkey Wheel House in Bourke Street at the corner of Spencer Street. It was the Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board head office. It was recently bought by this organisation, but for fifteen years after it ceased to be the MMTB head office, it was a private dwelling and fitted out as such. Most of the living area was in the basement. We climbed three levels of stairs, bearing in mind very high ceilings and wished we caught the lift. The building's owners are the Donkey Wheel organisation, a charitable trust I believe.
This was the children's play area. The builders are moving in today to begin restoration. Behind me were a few smaller rooms and as fire proof concrete bunker for important tramway records. I have a feeling this was a ballroom.
A room leading off the last one. This room was where much of Melbourne's tramway system was designed.
The architects stayed warm, well maybe not give the area this was supposed to heat.
Nice view of
The basement was a rabbit warren and spooky.
Going down. We decided to catch the lift down to the ground floor and pushed the call button but nothing was happening. No movement of the pulleys and cables above the lift. We waited. An old gentleman joined us and we all waited. Then a younger woman joined us and we all waited. The woman was clever. She said, the lift is not here is it? She slid the two doors open and there it was waiting for us. It took us down with an abrupt stop at ground level.
The building has a very nice scale to it.
So, three out of fifty nine open buildings. We didn't see a lot for the day, but what we did see was interesting. One place I would love to see is the underground substation in Russell Place. But on Saturday at least, people started queuing at 7am for a 10am opening. You can't complain too much when things are free and people have volunteered for the day, but I would really like to see a booking system for the more popular tours.