South Australian Insurance Building - 483-485 Collins St. MELBOURNE [Walking Melbourne Building Information]
Walking Melbourne

South Australian Insurance Building: 483-485 Collins St, MELBOURNE

South Australian Insurance Building
South Australian Insurance Building

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Building Profile

Name : South Australian Insurance Building


Address: 483-485 Collins St

Postcode: 3000

Construction Details

Built: 1888
Original use: Office
Current use: Office

number of floors : 5

Built in the Victorian period in the Neo-Gothic style

Notable features

A solid academic gothic facade. Floors treated uniquely, with smaller windows in proportion to height for brooding effect. Top level arcade and prominent dormer windows notable. Decorative gargoyles have since been removed from the parapet.


The South Australian Insurance Building was built in 1888 to a design by architects Oakden, Addison and Kemp, and was formerly known as the New Zealand Insurance Company building. The New Zealand Insurance Company erected the building as their Melbourne office. It cost approximately £20,000 and the builder was C Butler. The New Zealand Insurance Company was founded in Auckland in 1859 and by 1888 had many branches and agencies around the world. The South Australian Insurance Building comprises four storeys plus an attic and basement. The facade is designed in the Venetian Gothic style, a style that was introduced in Melbourne the 1870s. An early notable example, since demolished, was the three storey Allans & Co Building in Collins Street of 1876, by architects Terry and Oakden. The facade of the South Australian Insurance Building draws on colour as well as form for its effect. The extensive use of red terra cotta tiles gives contrast to buff coloured terra cotta mouldings and ceramic tiles decorated with fleur de lis. The ground floor is composed of three large arches formed from polished Scottish granite, with grouped columns standing on Malmsbury bluestone plinths. The upper floors, all with polished granite columns, form a picturesque composition, the top floor being an arcade of twelve pointed arches beneath a cornice. Three dormer windows puncture the attic storey, and the peak of each gable is decorated with chequer board tiles. The main significance of the building lies in the facade. Redevelopment of the rear of the building in the 1980s reduced the depth of the South Australian Insurance Building to approximately 11.5 metres.

Architect: Oakden, Addison & Kemp

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