Back in the 1970s and early 80s the space race was inspiring a new trend in commercial architecture - the "space frame" - structures consisting series of geometrical interconnecting metal rods.
Used by space stations and space shuttles for things like solar panels, architects began realising that the same technology could be applied as a great way of providing natural light, airiness as well as to show some functional structure to make buildings look "space age".
Melbourne has some great examples of this legacy and I thought I'd show some of my favourites here just to show the cynics that I am not just a fan of high Victorian architecture.
Note that some atriums of buildings look similar to space frames (ie Rialto Towers), but aren't actually.
And please, if you know of any others that I have missed, please post them on this thread.
So here we go, in no particular order:OCE House, 616 St Kilda Road
This building has a very small but prominent space frame for the entrance awning which contrasts with the 80s concrete office block.Illoura Plaza, 424 St Kilda Road
This huge atrium encloses the space between an 80s building and the 1970s "Illoura Plaza". It is framed with exposed space frames on the front facade and entrance awning.Victorian Arts Centre, St Kilda Road
Probably Melbourne's best known space frame this one is unusual as it is purely decorative and doesn't support any glass or any other structure.
The space frame was a compromise to achieve the spire form from the earlier architectural concepts.Melbourne Central Office Tower, Elizabeth Street Facade
Kurokawa's original concept for the Melbourne Central office tower and shopping centre was one of the most extensive examples of space frame architectural application in the world. It was also one of newer sets of space frames built in Melbourne.
The biggest conical frame served a practical purpose to provide cover over Coops Shot Tower.
The external glass canopies provided light, air and protection from the elements for office tower workers.
The design of the shopping centre was unfortunately modified just 10 years after it was first built and one of the most prominent decorative space frames unfortunately removed - a geodesic dome on the corner of Swanston and Lonsdale.Bourke Street Mall, South side
The south side of Bourke Street Mall features two prominent space frames as awnings.
One is in front of several 1920s commercial buildings:
And another an awning on an infill shopping centre built in the 1980s. Collins Place, Collins Street
Collins Place has one of Melbourne's best examples of a functional space frame.
The atrium and entrance awning is framed by the twin towers, integrated into the design.
The front entrance with glass canopy:
Looking up at the front canopy:
The atrium canopy which also features decorative tensile shades:Optus House, Collins Street
This is a new awning placed on a 70s building to form a podium which hides a very small set of space frames.Building, cnr William & Collins Street
Not sure what this one is called, but in between the taller and shorter office tower there is a suprise space frame glass atrium. You can see it here through the dark windows to the towers behind it.Bourke Place, Bourke Street
Bourke Place is perfect for a space frame. The building itself from many angles looks like a giant space shuttle preparing for take off. The glass awnings at street level, while not spectacular, use space frames.Southern Cross Station, Spencer Street
The grandaddy of them all, just to prove that space frame architecture is not dead.
The giant curved roof uses extensive, thick space frames for support.