Austral Buildings: 115-119 Collins Street, MELBOURNE
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Building ProfileName : Austral Buildings
LocationAddress: 115-119 Collins Street
Construction DetailsBuilt: 1890 - 1891
Original use: Office
Current use: Office
number of floors : 5
Built in the Edwardian period in the Queen Anne style
The Austral Buildings is of architectural significance for its innovative design, which marks a shift from the mannerist urbanity of the 1870s and 1880s to a more picturesque and expressive style of the early decades of the 20th century. The Austral was one of the earliest examples of the English Queen Anne Revival style in Melbourne, and the use of red brick in particular was innovative and must have marked the building as very modern when it was built. The Austral Buildings is of architectural significance as an early work of Nahum Barnet (1855-1931), and displays the kind of innovation that was to make him one of the most important designers of commercial buildings in the Federation period. The composition and exposed brickwork of the facade hint at his later works, such as the Auditorium Building, and reflect his view, adopted by many other architects in the early decades of the 20th century, that materials should express the colour and harmony of nature (hence red brick rather than render or bluestone), and that designers should pay more heed to local climatic conditions, freely adapting styles rather than simply copying given styles (hence the muted eclecticism of the Austral Buildings).
The Austral Buildings was designed in 1890 by the noted Melbourne architect Nahum Barnet for Alexander McKinley, publisher of Melbourne Punch, and constructed in 1891 by J. and J. Baxter as shops and professional offices. The building consists of four storeys plus an attic storey and was built of red brick with cement banding. Ground floor elliptical arches support oriels on either side of a recessed central bay that features mannerist elements, the whole capped with a mansard roof. The ground floor rolled-bronze shopfronts were added in 1909 and 1929. An additional studio, the East Studio, was added probably in the 1920s.Architect: Nahum Barnet
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