In Honour of Professor Miles Lewis

The National Trust of Australia (Victoria) today awarded Professor Miles Lewis Honorary Life Membership.  Michael Peck’s citation in nominating Mile’s for what is the highest award and recognition stated.  An honour long overdue and well deserved.



Honorary Membership Professor Miles Lewis AM
Miles Lewis has had a profound influence on the development of the National Trust in Victoria. He has been involved since his early years, when his father Professor Brian Lewis was the first Chairman of the National Trust in Victoria in 1957, and President in the early 1960s.
At that time Brian was also the founding Professor of architecture at Melbourne University. Miles’ mother Hilary, an architect, was working in the faculty and Miles and his sister, Claire, were studying architecture.
From this strong and influential architectural background Miles proceeded to provide five decades of service to the Trust in Victoria and to the Heritage movement both here in Australia and overseas.
Throughout that time he has made an unbroken contribution to the Trust’s work by volunteering his time and services to Board and to committee work. He has applied his profound architectural knowledge to the editing and writing of Trust publications, to report writing and expert witness appearances at Planning Panels, VCAT and the Heritage Council. 
At various times Professor Lewis has been:

  • a member of Trust Council, member of the Executive,
  • founding Chairman of the Technical Advisory Committee,
  • founding Chairman of the Maldon Committee,
  • Chairman of the Churches Committee, and
  • member of a number of other expert and advisory groups, most notably the Buildings Committee.

Miles is the foremost architectural historian in Australia; he is Professor in the Faculty of Architecture, Building & Planning at the University of Melbourne. His outstanding intellect provided rigour and academic discipline to the Trust’s classification work, and he has provided thousands of hours of expert advice on the acquisition and conservation of Trust properties.
Miles is editor and principal author of Architectura: Elements of Architectural Style published in London and New York in 2008; he is also author of key heritage and planning texts including

  • Victorian Primitive,
  • The Essential Maldon,
  • Two Hundred Years of Concrete in Australia,
  • Victorian Churches, (which he edited on behalf of the Trust)
  • Melbourne: the City’s History, and
  • Suburban Backlash.

Additionally Miles has published numerous academic articles and papers on architectural and building history, urban conservation, urban renewal and housing policy, as well as the invaluable Australian Architectural Index now available online.

Either alone or with others Miles has written for the National Trust the following:

  • Exterior Paint Colours: a guide to exterior colours for buildings of the Victorian period
  • The Collins Street Report (1978);
  • The National Trust Research Manual (2004);
  • ‘Philosophy of Restoration’, in Heritage and Conservation: the Challenges in the Pacific Basin published by the Australian Council of National Trusts in 1990.

In 1968 Miles was inaugural Chair of the Trust’s Maldon Committee. Its task was to influence the Town and Country Planning Board in preservation of the town. 
The Trust’s subsequent report Proposal for the Conservation of Maldon led to an Interim Development Order in 1970 to prevent adverse development and to the classification of Maldon as the first Notable Town. 
Miles was a founding member in 1976 of the Australian National Committee of International Council on Monuments and Sites, and subsequently its Chairman, and Miles substantially contributed to the writing of the Australian ICOMOS Burra Charter.
More broadly we can say of Miles that he was educated at Melbourne Grammar School and Melbourne University; won a University of Melbourne Special Award 1966-1969; and was appointed full-time at Melbourne University from 1970. 
Miles was joint recipient of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects Robin Boyd Environment Award in 1973, won the Walter Burley Griffin Award in 1982; Royal Australian Planning Institute [Victoria] Award for Excellence in 1994; Royal Australian Planning Institute [National] Occasional Special Award in 1995; he was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2002; was awarded a Centenary Medal in 2003 for service to Australian society and the humanities, and made Honorary Life Member of the Comité International d’Architecture Vernaculaire in 2005.
The Citation for his Member of Australia Order reads as follows:
For service to architectural history, heritage protection and urban planning, particularly through policy development and professional organisations.
In the same spirit as that citation, that I am delighted to support the Board recommendation that Prof. Miles Lewis be made an Honorary Member of the National Trust of Australia (Victoria).
Carried by acclamation

Urban Designers and Engineers: Losing the plot

Melbourne City Council has lost the plot.  Our Urban designers (Headed by Rob “Bamboo” Adams) and Engineers (Headed by Geoffrey Robinson) are slowly yet consistently destroying Melbourne and the things that make Melbourne.

The rot started back in 1996 when the Council back-down and supported the shift of Melbourne’s Museum from the City Centre to the Carlton Gardens. A move that was widely opposed by the general community. (The Museum should have been built as part of an expanded Federation Square or on the ill-fated CUB Swanston Street site)

Residents and traders managed to save Lygon Street from the destructive designs of Rob Adams who wanted to build balconies over the top of Lygon Streets Victorian Street Verandahs. (The City of Melbourne may still revisit Rob Adams nightmare on Lygon Street as the adopted Verandah policy has been allowed to slip out of sight and was not listed or included in Melbourne recent heritage review).

They just spent $5Million engineering congestion and reducing the number of traffic lanes in LaTrobe Street and now they have their sight on destroying the Queen Victoria Market extending Franklin Street so that it carves through the market car park and connects up with Duddly Street, increasing traffic where it is most definitely not needed.  Franklin Street should have been the new bike path and the precinct  should be encouraged to accommodate more pedestrian traffic.  If they had of channeled the money spent on LatTrobe street into Franklin Street redevelopment it could have made a positive contribution to Melbourne.

Clearly Road Safety is not on the Council’s agenda.  The other end of Franklin Street at the corner of Victoria Street is one of the busiest pedestrian intersections in Melbourne and a major accident hotspot. Channeling vehicle traffic down from Duddly Street down Franklin linking up to Victoria Street will only make this intersection worst.  The Council need to close Franklin Street between Swanston and Victoria Street and hand it over to RMIT to allow it to flow into the area and link in with the City Baths.

It is as if Rob Adams and Geoff Robinson are hell bent on destroying Hoddle’s Grid in what ever way they can.  The have extended Collins Street, tried to extend Bourke Street (In name alone) and turned LatTrobe street into a lane with dangerous cross street intersections.

The proposed Queen Victoria Market Franklin Street extension is their “piece de resistance” of utter stupidity in urban design and planning.

Melbourne’s fated wall collapse was planned to be demolished

Redevelopment plans for the former Swanston Street CUB site have been on the drawing board for decades with numerous designs and owners.

The wall that collapsed was retained at the bequest of the City of Melbourne Urban Design department headed by architect, Professor Rob Adams.

The CUB site was the subject last month to an archeological dig prior to work on the new construction  which was scheduled to commence in April 2013

Building company Grocon payed $1 million for the six-week dig, which ended on March 1. The dig was a Heritage Victoria requirement before Grocon redevelops the land.

Sadly the wall which collapsed on Thursday had been standing in a dilapidated state and was scheduled for demolition as part of the new approved design.

There is speculation that the recently attached hoarding to the left of the wall may have caught the wind which then levered the masonry wall to collapse

The site is subject to a coroner and work safety structural report

Melbourne’s Hidden Verandah Policy

Melbourne City Council Veranda Policy – 
click to view pdf scans

In 1995 the City of Melbourne commissioned Meridith Gould Architects to write a report on Lygon Street’s Verandahs.

The report was later adopted by the City of Melbourne as policy but soon forgotten.  Copies of the report can not be found on the Council web site and is not mentioned in Melbourne Strategic Planning scheme. (Scanned copy available here)

The report was written following efforts by Rob Adams’s urban design team to build above footpath balconies in Lygon Street – a move that would have seen Carlton’s heritage destroyed.   Two above footpath verandah’s were approved before the policy could be implemented.

The space above the footpath is public property and if owners or traders wanted to out door alfresco dining they need to build them within their building envelope and not expand over the footpath.

Meridith Gould in her research uncovered some interesting historical facts about Lygon Street verandahs and provided some good design options that could be considered. Her report is well worth reading and should be the model for ongoing heritage preservation and restoration of Melbourne’s Victorian Street-scapes. Thankfully Rob Adams’s urban design team did not get their way and the damage inflicted on Lygon Street was halted in time before the rot set in.

Following the publication and launch of the Gould report the City of Melbourne at the bequest of Kevin Gosper made available low interest loans to encourage Lygon Street owners and traders to repair or reinstate Victorian heritage verandahs. A policy that had wide community support but has since been forgotten or overlooked by the City Council and Town Planners. 

Melbourne Icon derailed Plans by the State Government to scrap W-Class trams

The Brumby State Government has announced plans to scrap Melbourne’s iconic W-Class trams. W-Class trams will only serve the Melbourne City Circle route.


The W-Class tram has been a national Icon, like that of the Sydney ferry, has served Melbourne for nearly a century and is recognised world over.

The W-Class trams should continue in service along the Toorak, St Kilda, Carlton and bayside routes during the summer months.

The proposal to abandon Melbourne’s W-Class trams is widely opposed by community groups such as the National Trust of Australia and Victorian tourism organisations

The W-Class tram with its opening doors and natural ventilation is well sought after and will be sold off to oversees buyers at a premium price.

Government’s come and go but the W-Class trams should stay forever

The decision by the State Government is reprehensible and demonstrates a lack of social and historic understanding and appreciation of what makes Melbourne, Melbourne. Those responsible for this decision should lose their jobs.

Once they have gone they are gone forever.

It is now incumbent on the Australian Government to place restrictions on the sale and export of this important part of Australia’s heritage.

Melbourne Icon derailed Plans by the State Government to scrap W-Class trams

The Brumby State Government has announced plans to scrap Melbourne’s iconic W-Class trams. W-Class trams will only serve the Melbourne City Circle route.


The W-Class tram has been a national Icon, like that of the Sydney ferry, has served Melbourne for nearly a century and is recognised world over.

The W-Class trams should continue in service along the Toorak, St Kilda, Carlton and bayside routes during the summer months.

The proposal to abandon Melbourne’s W-Class trams is widely opposed by community groups such as the National Trust of Australia and Victorian tourism organisations

The W-Class tram with its opening doors and natural ventilation is well sought after and will be sold off to oversees buyers at a premium price.

Government’s come and go but the W-Class trams should stay forever

The decision by the State Government is reprehensible and demonstrates a lack of social and historic understanding and appreciation of what makes Melbourne, Melbourne. Those responsible for this decision should lose their jobs.

Once they have gone they are gone forever.

It is now incumbent on the Australian Government to place restrictions on the sale and export of this important part of Australia’s heritage.

Melbourne Icon derailed Plans by the State Government to scrap W-Class trams

The Brumby State Government has announced plans to scrap Melbourne’s iconic W-Class trams. W-Class trams will only serve the Melbourne City Circle route.


The W-Class tram has been a national Icon, like that of the Sydney ferry, has served Melbourne for nearly a century and is recognised world over.

The W-Class trams should continue in service along the Toorak, St Kilda, Carlton and bayside routes during the summer months.

The proposal to abandon Melbourne’s W-Class trams is widely opposed by community groups such as the National Trust of Australia and Victorian tourism organisations

The W-Class tram with its opening doors and natural ventilation is well sought after and will be sold off to oversees buyers at a premium price.

Government’s come and go but the W-Class trams should stay forever

The decision by the State Government is reprehensible and demonstrates a lack of social and historic understanding and appreciation of what makes Melbourne, Melbourne. Those responsible for this decision should lose their jobs.

Once they have gone they are gone forever.

It is now incumbent on the Australian Government to place restrictions on the sale and export of this important part of Australia’s heritage.

The Dome by Arnold Zable published 26 September 1996

MELBOURNE ROYAL EXHIBITION BUILDINGS PROPOSED STATE MUSEUM

10 years on and we reflect on the campaign to oppose the relocation of Melbourne’s Museum from the city center to the Royal Exhibition Buildings, Carlton Gardens.

The State Museum in its current site is struggling to attract visitors and is in financial difficulty. The Museum will soon need to expand but has no where other into the park to go. The predictions and concerns of Trevor Huggard, Miles Lewis, myself and others have been proven right.

It was 10 year-ago when Peter McMullin, Ivan Deveson and Rob Adams sold out their integrity under threats by the then Premier of Victoria, Jeff Kennett, to back off from supporting the campaign to have the museum relocated back into the city center. Peter McMullin lost the Deputy Lord Mayors post the following year and failed to be reelected to council in 1999 and 2001. Ivan Deveson lost support and did not stand for re-election in 1999. Rob Adams is still with the City Council but with his reputation stained as a result of his actions.

The Age, the Herald Sun and the people of Melbourne all expressed opposition to the proposed development. In 1999 Jeff Kennett lost office.


[archive publication – a lost opportunity, poor planning and lack of integrity prevailed – Thanks to Bambo Rob and Clown Hall]

The Dome By Arnold Zable. Published 26 September 1996

We called it, simply, ‘the dome.’ We saw it every day, as we made our way from our single-fronted terrace, in Canning street, the three blocks south, to Lee Street Primary school. It was a constant in our lives, the southern boundary of our childhood world, distant, but clearly visible, especially from the open road, where we rode our scooters, raced our bikes, got up to no good, and played epic cricket matches between the Canning and Amess street boys.

The dome: In summers it seemed to shimmer in the crackling heat. On foggy mornings, it emerged, triumphant, from the mists. In late spring, when the poplars on Canning Street regained their leaves, it rose above an avenue of vibrant foliage. The Exhibition Buildings was the first wonder of our childhood world. It was majestic; free standing and unobscured, in a parkland setting. Its Florentine dome overlooked flower beds and shaded paths. It was our grand landmark, our neighbourhood icon. Sometimes we made it inside, under the dome, lured there by the latest show to come to the Exhibition Building. We were engrossed in collecting glossy brochures, and viewing the vast array of cars, boats, camping gear, or whatever, that crammed the exhibition halls. Just occasionally we glanced up and sensed the grandeur of this cavernous wonder, with its maze of galleries and arches, sumptuous ornamentation and towers.

As we grew older, the inner city skyline became more hard edged. Curves and church spires were dwarfed by rectangles and right angles. High rises cluttered the skies. Even then, the dome was still visible. Reduced in scale somewhat; but all the more precious, because it defied the times. It was a constant reminder that there are other possibilities. Other visions. Other ways to design a city.

The Royal Exhibition Building, the dome, and the Carlton Gardens, are now facing a far more lethal threat. In a decision that was made with no public consultation, no impact studies and no historical advice, the new Museum of Victoria lost its half-completed building on Southbank, and is to be built, instead, in the Carlton Gardens.

Not only will the proposed design destroy the free standing nature of the Exhibition Buildings, and not only will its massive bulk, which is over three times the area of the present buildings, impose itself on the gardens, but the dome will be obscured, from the northern view, by a projecting roof blade. According to Miles Lewis, professor of architecture at Melbourne University, this blade has been ‘conceived solely as a feature to compete with the Exhibition buildings dome.’

More disturbing is the brief for the museum design, which states, ‘it is also inevitable that at some time in the future additions to the complex will be required. The building needs to cater for expansion in both its internal planning and its external appearance.’ So the new museum may well pave the way for further intrusion into the Carlton Gardens.

This is far more than a local issue. The Exhibition building is a major part of our nation’s heritage. It was built to house the Great International Exhibition of 1880-81. It was the venue of the Centennial Exhibition of 1888. The first Federal Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia was opened here, in May 1901, with much celebration and ceremony. And it remains, along with the Eiffel Tower of Paris, one of the few structures that were built in the nineteenth century era of great exhibitions.

The Royal Exhibition building is a Victorian icon, and a national treasure. Trevor Huggard, former Lord Mayor, is lobbying the council to nominate it for World Heritage Listing. It is, according to Miles Lewis, the only building in Victoria with any prospect of achieving such an honour. This would mean a lot in terms of tourism and prestige. In fact the building is well placed for such as listing because in the 1980s it was restored to its 1901 concept of colour, design and art decoration.

A group of Melburnians who are enraged by this decision, are still trying, desperately, to get their message across. They first called their group, Defend the Dome. As the issues have broadened, they have renamed themselves, Defend our Heritage. Spokes-people like Anthony van der Craats, Mary-lou Jelbart and Trevor Huggard, continually point out, there are a number of far more preferable sites for the new museum, such as the vacant CUB site, Queen Victoria site, or the former police head quarters in Russell street. Building the museum on one of these sites, would help the inner city revive. It would place the museum where it belongs, as part of the cultural spine of the city.

And it would be a boon city businesses in the CBD, already in decline as the focus shifts to the casino complex on Southbank. Inner city businesses face a loss of revenue from a projected one million annual visitors to the new museum. It is only once in a life time that the opportunity comes to create a great new building for this purpose. Melbourne deserves a world class museum, where it belongs, in the heart of the city.

It is not too late to reverse this decision. The cyclone fences have gone up. The bulldozers are at work. But the contracts for the building have not been finalised. This is written as a plea to the premier, his government, his planning minister, those who hold the reins of power, that for the sake of our city, for the sake of future generations, stop, rethink, take a look at what you are doing.

You are destroying a place of grace and grandeur. You are destroying the peaceful ambiance of its surrounds. You are destroying the work and vision of our collective past. You are destroying aspects of our common heritage. Yes, our heritage. At the same time, you are consigning the new Museum of Victoria to the city fringes.

Stop it before it is too late. Institute a stay of execution. Set up a process of genuine public consultation and review. Allow the broader community to be informed. And, above all, spend some time in the gardens to absorb its serenity. Walk the road that leads to the dome, and contemplate what you are about to do. It is so obviously wrong.

Arnold Zable is a Melbourne based writer. In the 1970s he taught a course in urban and environmental politics at Melbourne University.

Comment made in 1996 in relation to Jeff Kennett, Premier of Victoria 1992 – 1999

We have a state government that loves to congratulate itself on its great works, and on the way it is transforming the city. But the reality is, that it is intruding into our parks and gardens, making crucial decisions with little consultation, and without regard to overall strategic planning. And in the process it has left a lot of people feeling powerless, disenfranchised and unwilling to speak out.

The article by Arnold Zable printed above records a significant turning point in the history of the Royal Exhibition Buildings in Melbourne and it’s nomination for World Heritage, the development of Melbourne’s Museum and the campaign to have the Museum of Victoria relocated.

It records part of the missing chapter in the history of the Royal Exhibition Buildings written by David Dunstan, historian.

IN 1996 a meeting between John Brumby, former leader of the Victorian State opposition, Trevor Huggard, former City of Melbourne Lord Mayor and Exhibition Buildings Trustee, Sigmund Jorgensen, Montsalvat Arts Foundation and Anthony van der Craats, Carlton Resident and community activist, took place in the Victorian State Parliament to discuss issues of concern and opposition to the then proposed development of Melbourne Museum adjacent to the Royal Exhibition Buildings.

It was at this meeting that John Brumby first proposed and supported the listing of the Royal Exhibition Buildings on the World Heritage List in hope that the nomination would cause Jeff Kennett, Premier of Victoria 1992-1996, to rethink the proposed development of Melbourne’s Museum in the Carlton Gardens. At the time Jeff Kennett opposed the World Heritage Listing.

In 1979 history has recorded that Jeff Kennett, as a Liberal State Minister, proposed the demolition of the Royal Exhibition Buildings. Whilst he managed to demolish the Royal Ball Room he was unsuccessful in his desire to see the Royal Exhibition Buildings demolished.

The National Trust’s expert building committee opposed the design and development of Melbourne’s Museum citing that the development was not in keeping with the scale, design and significance of the site. Dr Miles Lewis, Architectural Historian and member of the National Trust’s historic building committee express serious concern at the failure of the Kennett State Government to subject the proposed development to a proper planning process and assessment.

The Board of the National Trust, who had an on going business relationship and close association with the Museum of Victoria, overturned, to the dismay of it’s members, the recommendation of the Trust’s expert committee.

In December 1996 Anthony van der Craats, was elected to the Board of Directors of the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) in opposition to the determination of the Board to overturn the recommendation of the expert committee. He served as a Councillor of the National Trust for three years until 1999. He was later joined by fellow activists Julianne Bell and Mary-lou Jellbart both who were elected to the Board of the National Trust in 1997 and 1998 respectively.

Whilst the community campaign to stop the Museum development in 1996 was unsuccessful, John Brumby, who later became Victoria’s Treasure in late 1999, recommended and approved the nomination for World Heritage Listing.

The Royal Exhibition building is Australia’s first building to listed for World Heritage. There continues to be ongoing concern and issues related to the Museum which was built adjacent to the Royal Exhibition Buildings prior to the World Heritage Listing.

The following persons deserve recognition for their contributions for the preservation of this magnificent historical Melbourne Icon.

Trevor Huggard, former Lord Mayor of Melbourne and Member of the Exhibition Trustees;
Linton Lethlean, former Director Exhibition Trustees, who faithfully restored the Royal Exhibition buildings to its original deign;
Mark Duckworth, former Melbourne City Councillor and member of the Exhibition Trustees
David Dunstan, historian who wrote the history of the Royal Exhibition Buildings;
Miles Lewis, for his endless work and professionalism in supporting the nomination for World Heritage and his tireless contributions to the preservation of Melbourne’s history;
Mary-Lou Jellbart, Arts Broadcaster and former Councillor National Trust of Victoria;
Carlton Community who have been its protector and neighbour without whom the Carlton Gardens and the Royal Exhibition Buildings would not exist today.

The Dome by Arnold Zable published 26 September 1996

MELBOURNE ROYAL EXHIBITION BUILDINGS PROPOSED STATE MUSEUM

10 years on and we reflect on the campaign to oppose the relocation of Melbourne’s Museum from the city center to the Royal Exhibition Buildings, Carlton Gardens.

The State Museum in its current site is struggling to attract visitors and is in financial difficulty. The Museum will soon need to expand but has no where other into the park to go. The predictions and concerns of Trevor Huggard, Miles Lewis, myself and others have been proven right.

It was 10 year-ago when Peter McMullin, Ivan Deveson and Rob Adams sold out their integrity under threats by the then Premier of Victoria, Jeff Kennett, to back off from supporting the campaign to have the museum relocated back into the city center. Peter McMullin lost the Deputy Lord Mayors post the following year and failed to be reelected to council in 1999 and 2001. Ivan Deveson lost support and did not stand for re-election in 1999. Rob Adams is still with the City Council but with his reputation stained as a result of his actions.

The Age, the Herald Sun and the people of Melbourne all expressed opposition to the proposed development. In 1999 Jeff Kennett lost office.


[archive publication – a lost opportunity, poor planning and lack of integrity prevailed – Thanks to Bambo Rob and Clown Hall]

The Dome By Arnold Zable. Published 26 September 1996

We called it, simply, ‘the dome.’ We saw it every day, as we made our way from our single-fronted terrace, in Canning street, the three blocks south, to Lee Street Primary school. It was a constant in our lives, the southern boundary of our childhood world, distant, but clearly visible, especially from the open road, where we rode our scooters, raced our bikes, got up to no good, and played epic cricket matches between the Canning and Amess street boys.

The dome: In summers it seemed to shimmer in the crackling heat. On foggy mornings, it emerged, triumphant, from the mists. In late spring, when the poplars on Canning Street regained their leaves, it rose above an avenue of vibrant foliage. The Exhibition Buildings was the first wonder of our childhood world. It was majestic; free standing and unobscured, in a parkland setting. Its Florentine dome overlooked flower beds and shaded paths. It was our grand landmark, our neighbourhood icon. Sometimes we made it inside, under the dome, lured there by the latest show to come to the Exhibition Building. We were engrossed in collecting glossy brochures, and viewing the vast array of cars, boats, camping gear, or whatever, that crammed the exhibition halls. Just occasionally we glanced up and sensed the grandeur of this cavernous wonder, with its maze of galleries and arches, sumptuous ornamentation and towers.

As we grew older, the inner city skyline became more hard edged. Curves and church spires were dwarfed by rectangles and right angles. High rises cluttered the skies. Even then, the dome was still visible. Reduced in scale somewhat; but all the more precious, because it defied the times. It was a constant reminder that there are other possibilities. Other visions. Other ways to design a city.

The Royal Exhibition Building, the dome, and the Carlton Gardens, are now facing a far more lethal threat. In a decision that was made with no public consultation, no impact studies and no historical advice, the new Museum of Victoria lost its half-completed building on Southbank, and is to be built, instead, in the Carlton Gardens.

Not only will the proposed design destroy the free standing nature of the Exhibition Buildings, and not only will its massive bulk, which is over three times the area of the present buildings, impose itself on the gardens, but the dome will be obscured, from the northern view, by a projecting roof blade. According to Miles Lewis, professor of architecture at Melbourne University, this blade has been ‘conceived solely as a feature to compete with the Exhibition buildings dome.’

More disturbing is the brief for the museum design, which states, ‘it is also inevitable that at some time in the future additions to the complex will be required. The building needs to cater for expansion in both its internal planning and its external appearance.’ So the new museum may well pave the way for further intrusion into the Carlton Gardens.

This is far more than a local issue. The Exhibition building is a major part of our nation’s heritage. It was built to house the Great International Exhibition of 1880-81. It was the venue of the Centennial Exhibition of 1888. The first Federal Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia was opened here, in May 1901, with much celebration and ceremony. And it remains, along with the Eiffel Tower of Paris, one of the few structures that were built in the nineteenth century era of great exhibitions.

The Royal Exhibition building is a Victorian icon, and a national treasure. Trevor Huggard, former Lord Mayor, is lobbying the council to nominate it for World Heritage Listing. It is, according to Miles Lewis, the only building in Victoria with any prospect of achieving such an honour. This would mean a lot in terms of tourism and prestige. In fact the building is well placed for such as listing because in the 1980s it was restored to its 1901 concept of colour, design and art decoration.

A group of Melburnians who are enraged by this decision, are still trying, desperately, to get their message across. They first called their group, Defend the Dome. As the issues have broadened, they have renamed themselves, Defend our Heritage. Spokes-people like Anthony van der Craats, Mary-lou Jelbart and Trevor Huggard, continually point out, there are a number of far more preferable sites for the new museum, such as the vacant CUB site, Queen Victoria site, or the former police head quarters in Russell street. Building the museum on one of these sites, would help the inner city revive. It would place the museum where it belongs, as part of the cultural spine of the city.

And it would be a boon city businesses in the CBD, already in decline as the focus shifts to the casino complex on Southbank. Inner city businesses face a loss of revenue from a projected one million annual visitors to the new museum. It is only once in a life time that the opportunity comes to create a great new building for this purpose. Melbourne deserves a world class museum, where it belongs, in the heart of the city.

It is not too late to reverse this decision. The cyclone fences have gone up. The bulldozers are at work. But the contracts for the building have not been finalised. This is written as a plea to the premier, his government, his planning minister, those who hold the reins of power, that for the sake of our city, for the sake of future generations, stop, rethink, take a look at what you are doing.

You are destroying a place of grace and grandeur. You are destroying the peaceful ambiance of its surrounds. You are destroying the work and vision of our collective past. You are destroying aspects of our common heritage. Yes, our heritage. At the same time, you are consigning the new Museum of Victoria to the city fringes.

Stop it before it is too late. Institute a stay of execution. Set up a process of genuine public consultation and review. Allow the broader community to be informed. And, above all, spend some time in the gardens to absorb its serenity. Walk the road that leads to the dome, and contemplate what you are about to do. It is so obviously wrong.

Arnold Zable is a Melbourne based writer. In the 1970s he taught a course in urban and environmental politics at Melbourne University.

Comment made in 1996 in relation to Jeff Kennett, Premier of Victoria 1992 – 1999

We have a state government that loves to congratulate itself on its great works, and on the way it is transforming the city. But the reality is, that it is intruding into our parks and gardens, making crucial decisions with little consultation, and without regard to overall strategic planning. And in the process it has left a lot of people feeling powerless, disenfranchised and unwilling to speak out.

The article by Arnold Zable printed above records a significant turning point in the history of the Royal Exhibition Buildings in Melbourne and it’s nomination for World Heritage, the development of Melbourne’s Museum and the campaign to have the Museum of Victoria relocated.

It records part of the missing chapter in the history of the Royal Exhibition Buildings written by David Dunstan, historian.

IN 1996 a meeting between John Brumby, former leader of the Victorian State opposition, Trevor Huggard, former City of Melbourne Lord Mayor and Exhibition Buildings Trustee, Sigmund Jorgensen, Montsalvat Arts Foundation and Anthony van der Craats, Carlton Resident and community activist, took place in the Victorian State Parliament to discuss issues of concern and opposition to the then proposed development of Melbourne Museum adjacent to the Royal Exhibition Buildings.

It was at this meeting that John Brumby first proposed and supported the listing of the Royal Exhibition Buildings on the World Heritage List in hope that the nomination would cause Jeff Kennett, Premier of Victoria 1992-1996, to rethink the proposed development of Melbourne’s Museum in the Carlton Gardens. At the time Jeff Kennett opposed the World Heritage Listing.

In 1979 history has recorded that Jeff Kennett, as a Liberal State Minister, proposed the demolition of the Royal Exhibition Buildings. Whilst he managed to demolish the Royal Ball Room he was unsuccessful in his desire to see the Royal Exhibition Buildings demolished.

The National Trust’s expert building committee opposed the design and development of Melbourne’s Museum citing that the development was not in keeping with the scale, design and significance of the site. Dr Miles Lewis, Architectural Historian and member of the National Trust’s historic building committee express serious concern at the failure of the Kennett State Government to subject the proposed development to a proper planning process and assessment.

The Board of the National Trust, who had an on going business relationship and close association with the Museum of Victoria, overturned, to the dismay of it’s members, the recommendation of the Trust’s expert committee.

In December 1996 Anthony van der Craats, was elected to the Board of Directors of the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) in opposition to the determination of the Board to overturn the recommendation of the expert committee. He served as a Councillor of the National Trust for three years until 1999. He was later joined by fellow activists Julianne Bell and Mary-lou Jellbart both who were elected to the Board of the National Trust in 1997 and 1998 respectively.

Whilst the community campaign to stop the Museum development in 1996 was unsuccessful, John Brumby, who later became Victoria’s Treasure in late 1999, recommended and approved the nomination for World Heritage Listing.

The Royal Exhibition building is Australia’s first building to listed for World Heritage. There continues to be ongoing concern and issues related to the Museum which was built adjacent to the Royal Exhibition Buildings prior to the World Heritage Listing.

The following persons deserve recognition for their contributions for the preservation of this magnificent historical Melbourne Icon.

Trevor Huggard, former Lord Mayor of Melbourne and Member of the Exhibition Trustees;
Linton Lethlean, former Director Exhibition Trustees, who faithfully restored the Royal Exhibition buildings to its original deign;
Mark Duckworth, former Melbourne City Councillor and member of the Exhibition Trustees
David Dunstan, historian who wrote the history of the Royal Exhibition Buildings;
Miles Lewis, for his endless work and professionalism in supporting the nomination for World Heritage and his tireless contributions to the preservation of Melbourne’s history;
Mary-Lou Jellbart, Arts Broadcaster and former Councillor National Trust of Victoria;
Carlton Community who have been its protector and neighbour without whom the Carlton Gardens and the Royal Exhibition Buildings would not exist today.

The Dome by Arnold Zable published 26 September 1996

MELBOURNE ROYAL EXHIBITION BUILDINGS PROPOSED STATE MUSEUM

10 years on and we reflect on the campaign to oppose the relocation of Melbourne’s Museum from the city center to the Royal Exhibition Buildings, Carlton Gardens.

The State Museum in its current site is struggling to attract visitors and is in financial difficulty. The Museum will soon need to expand but has no where other into the park to go. The predictions and concerns of Trevor Huggard, Miles Lewis, myself and others have been proven right.

It was 10 year-ago when Peter McMullin, Ivan Deveson and Rob Adams sold out their integrity under threats by the then Premier of Victoria, Jeff Kennett, to back off from supporting the campaign to have the museum relocated back into the city center. Peter McMullin lost the Deputy Lord Mayors post the following year and failed to be reelected to council in 1999 and 2001. Ivan Deveson lost support and did not stand for re-election in 1999. Rob Adams is still with the City Council but with his reputation stained as a result of his actions.

The Age, the Herald Sun and the people of Melbourne all expressed opposition to the proposed development. In 1999 Jeff Kennett lost office.


[archive publication – a lost opportunity, poor planning and lack of integrity prevailed – Thanks to Bambo Rob and Clown Hall]

The Dome By Arnold Zable. Published 26 September 1996

We called it, simply, ‘the dome.’ We saw it every day, as we made our way from our single-fronted terrace, in Canning street, the three blocks south, to Lee Street Primary school. It was a constant in our lives, the southern boundary of our childhood world, distant, but clearly visible, especially from the open road, where we rode our scooters, raced our bikes, got up to no good, and played epic cricket matches between the Canning and Amess street boys.

The dome: In summers it seemed to shimmer in the crackling heat. On foggy mornings, it emerged, triumphant, from the mists. In late spring, when the poplars on Canning Street regained their leaves, it rose above an avenue of vibrant foliage. The Exhibition Buildings was the first wonder of our childhood world. It was majestic; free standing and unobscured, in a parkland setting. Its Florentine dome overlooked flower beds and shaded paths. It was our grand landmark, our neighbourhood icon. Sometimes we made it inside, under the dome, lured there by the latest show to come to the Exhibition Building. We were engrossed in collecting glossy brochures, and viewing the vast array of cars, boats, camping gear, or whatever, that crammed the exhibition halls. Just occasionally we glanced up and sensed the grandeur of this cavernous wonder, with its maze of galleries and arches, sumptuous ornamentation and towers.

As we grew older, the inner city skyline became more hard edged. Curves and church spires were dwarfed by rectangles and right angles. High rises cluttered the skies. Even then, the dome was still visible. Reduced in scale somewhat; but all the more precious, because it defied the times. It was a constant reminder that there are other possibilities. Other visions. Other ways to design a city.

The Royal Exhibition Building, the dome, and the Carlton Gardens, are now facing a far more lethal threat. In a decision that was made with no public consultation, no impact studies and no historical advice, the new Museum of Victoria lost its half-completed building on Southbank, and is to be built, instead, in the Carlton Gardens.

Not only will the proposed design destroy the free standing nature of the Exhibition Buildings, and not only will its massive bulk, which is over three times the area of the present buildings, impose itself on the gardens, but the dome will be obscured, from the northern view, by a projecting roof blade. According to Miles Lewis, professor of architecture at Melbourne University, this blade has been ‘conceived solely as a feature to compete with the Exhibition buildings dome.’

More disturbing is the brief for the museum design, which states, ‘it is also inevitable that at some time in the future additions to the complex will be required. The building needs to cater for expansion in both its internal planning and its external appearance.’ So the new museum may well pave the way for further intrusion into the Carlton Gardens.

This is far more than a local issue. The Exhibition building is a major part of our nation’s heritage. It was built to house the Great International Exhibition of 1880-81. It was the venue of the Centennial Exhibition of 1888. The first Federal Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia was opened here, in May 1901, with much celebration and ceremony. And it remains, along with the Eiffel Tower of Paris, one of the few structures that were built in the nineteenth century era of great exhibitions.

The Royal Exhibition building is a Victorian icon, and a national treasure. Trevor Huggard, former Lord Mayor, is lobbying the council to nominate it for World Heritage Listing. It is, according to Miles Lewis, the only building in Victoria with any prospect of achieving such an honour. This would mean a lot in terms of tourism and prestige. In fact the building is well placed for such as listing because in the 1980s it was restored to its 1901 concept of colour, design and art decoration.

A group of Melburnians who are enraged by this decision, are still trying, desperately, to get their message across. They first called their group, Defend the Dome. As the issues have broadened, they have renamed themselves, Defend our Heritage. Spokes-people like Anthony van der Craats, Mary-lou Jelbart and Trevor Huggard, continually point out, there are a number of far more preferable sites for the new museum, such as the vacant CUB site, Queen Victoria site, or the former police head quarters in Russell street. Building the museum on one of these sites, would help the inner city revive. It would place the museum where it belongs, as part of the cultural spine of the city.

And it would be a boon city businesses in the CBD, already in decline as the focus shifts to the casino complex on Southbank. Inner city businesses face a loss of revenue from a projected one million annual visitors to the new museum. It is only once in a life time that the opportunity comes to create a great new building for this purpose. Melbourne deserves a world class museum, where it belongs, in the heart of the city.

It is not too late to reverse this decision. The cyclone fences have gone up. The bulldozers are at work. But the contracts for the building have not been finalised. This is written as a plea to the premier, his government, his planning minister, those who hold the reins of power, that for the sake of our city, for the sake of future generations, stop, rethink, take a look at what you are doing.

You are destroying a place of grace and grandeur. You are destroying the peaceful ambiance of its surrounds. You are destroying the work and vision of our collective past. You are destroying aspects of our common heritage. Yes, our heritage. At the same time, you are consigning the new Museum of Victoria to the city fringes.

Stop it before it is too late. Institute a stay of execution. Set up a process of genuine public consultation and review. Allow the broader community to be informed. And, above all, spend some time in the gardens to absorb its serenity. Walk the road that leads to the dome, and contemplate what you are about to do. It is so obviously wrong.

Arnold Zable is a Melbourne based writer. In the 1970s he taught a course in urban and environmental politics at Melbourne University.

Comment made in 1996 in relation to Jeff Kennett, Premier of Victoria 1992 – 1999

We have a state government that loves to congratulate itself on its great works, and on the way it is transforming the city. But the reality is, that it is intruding into our parks and gardens, making crucial decisions with little consultation, and without regard to overall strategic planning. And in the process it has left a lot of people feeling powerless, disenfranchised and unwilling to speak out.

The article by Arnold Zable printed above records a significant turning point in the history of the Royal Exhibition Buildings in Melbourne and it’s nomination for World Heritage, the development of Melbourne’s Museum and the campaign to have the Museum of Victoria relocated.

It records part of the missing chapter in the history of the Royal Exhibition Buildings written by David Dunstan, historian.

IN 1996 a meeting between John Brumby, former leader of the Victorian State opposition, Trevor Huggard, former City of Melbourne Lord Mayor and Exhibition Buildings Trustee, Sigmund Jorgensen, Montsalvat Arts Foundation and Anthony van der Craats, Carlton Resident and community activist, took place in the Victorian State Parliament to discuss issues of concern and opposition to the then proposed development of Melbourne Museum adjacent to the Royal Exhibition Buildings.

It was at this meeting that John Brumby first proposed and supported the listing of the Royal Exhibition Buildings on the World Heritage List in hope that the nomination would cause Jeff Kennett, Premier of Victoria 1992-1996, to rethink the proposed development of Melbourne’s Museum in the Carlton Gardens. At the time Jeff Kennett opposed the World Heritage Listing.

In 1979 history has recorded that Jeff Kennett, as a Liberal State Minister, proposed the demolition of the Royal Exhibition Buildings. Whilst he managed to demolish the Royal Ball Room he was unsuccessful in his desire to see the Royal Exhibition Buildings demolished.

The National Trust’s expert building committee opposed the design and development of Melbourne’s Museum citing that the development was not in keeping with the scale, design and significance of the site. Dr Miles Lewis, Architectural Historian and member of the National Trust’s historic building committee express serious concern at the failure of the Kennett State Government to subject the proposed development to a proper planning process and assessment.

The Board of the National Trust, who had an on going business relationship and close association with the Museum of Victoria, overturned, to the dismay of it’s members, the recommendation of the Trust’s expert committee.

In December 1996 Anthony van der Craats, was elected to the Board of Directors of the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) in opposition to the determination of the Board to overturn the recommendation of the expert committee. He served as a Councillor of the National Trust for three years until 1999. He was later joined by fellow activists Julianne Bell and Mary-lou Jellbart both who were elected to the Board of the National Trust in 1997 and 1998 respectively.

Whilst the community campaign to stop the Museum development in 1996 was unsuccessful, John Brumby, who later became Victoria’s Treasure in late 1999, recommended and approved the nomination for World Heritage Listing.

The Royal Exhibition building is Australia’s first building to listed for World Heritage. There continues to be ongoing concern and issues related to the Museum which was built adjacent to the Royal Exhibition Buildings prior to the World Heritage Listing.

The following persons deserve recognition for their contributions for the preservation of this magnificent historical Melbourne Icon.

Trevor Huggard, former Lord Mayor of Melbourne and Member of the Exhibition Trustees;
Linton Lethlean, former Director Exhibition Trustees, who faithfully restored the Royal Exhibition buildings to its original deign;
Mark Duckworth, former Melbourne City Councillor and member of the Exhibition Trustees
David Dunstan, historian who wrote the history of the Royal Exhibition Buildings;
Miles Lewis, for his endless work and professionalism in supporting the nomination for World Heritage and his tireless contributions to the preservation of Melbourne’s history;
Mary-Lou Jellbart, Arts Broadcaster and former Councillor National Trust of Victoria;
Carlton Community who have been its protector and neighbour without whom the Carlton Gardens and the Royal Exhibition Buildings would not exist today.