Walking Melbourne


1950 - 1959

The 1950s in Melbourne represented a huge change in the philosophy of the city. By 1955, almost nothing had been constructed in the city for nearly ten years. The city was by now a collection of decorative pre-war buildings which were by this time beginning to age and wear considerably. These were built up to a consistent height limit which created a uniformly elegant city. There is evidence to suggest that Melburnians were bored and even embarrassed by their now very 'grey' city, and sough change.

The winning bid for the 1956 Olympics brought a new hope to Melbourne. A number of hotels and buildings were built in anticipation of the games, and they represented a fresh, modern approach. Decorative domes, facades, spires and even entire buildings were removed. Traditional ornamental cast-iron awnings on commercial buildings were removed and banned in the inner city, and instead, shop awnings were suspended without posts.

These actions were as much to modernise the city as it was to remove the traditional associations with Europe. Many of these revolutionary early curtain-walled buildings contrasted heavily with the many highly ornate existing buildings providing further 'evidence' of the superiority of modern construction. In the meantime, the suburbs began to sprawl outward, and freeways and ringroads were proposed to stem growing congestion of city road traffic. Concrete construction and the removal of suburban trees was common in the 1950s.

In 1957, the city height limit was abolished and the ICI building (influenced heavily by the UN building in New York) broke new ground, paving the way for 2 decades of demolition and glass towers.

Though little was left from the 1950s, it paved the way for bulk modernism in the 60s. Significant losses from the era include the Olympic stand at the MCG.

Important and influential buildings included the ICI house, Hosies Hotel, Olympic Pool, Gilbert Court and Myer Music Bowl.

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