Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
Twilight Walking Tour: Melbourne
August 25, 2016

See other CTBUH Tours & Visits
See more Global Twilight Walking Tour reports
See more on the Urban Habitat / Urban Design Committee

MELBOURNE – Melbourne’s persona is fondly captured by the revitalization of the city’s laneway network. Our CTBUH walk focused on the North West precinct and the emerging character of some of Melbourne’s forgotten laneways. See a Map of the Event.

The walk be
gan at Guildford Lane and ended on the corner of La Trobe Street and William Street. As described below, each stop offered an opportunity to study Melbourne’s unique urban character.

1. Guildford Lane

Guildford Lane is a collection of two-story buildings reminiscent of the Melbourne of yore with a sprinkling of the urban contemporary added for good measure. The area has a small and emerging art culture; quaint buildings decorated with haphazard graffiti offer very little indication of visual arts treasures that hide behind their red-brick façade.  Old-world it may be, but it is also fast becoming the nucleus for Melbourne’s visual arts. A view to towering skyscrapers ahead pays homage to the varying layers of history – past and present – that reside there.

The tour group considers the historic nature of Guildford Lane.

2. Lonsdale Street

After leaving Guildford Lane, the group moved on to Lonsdale Lane, a paved, contemporary, and open-air thoroughfare that lies adjacent to the Children’s Court and zigzags across the block connecting Little Lonsdale and Lonsdale Streets. The group found the laneway to be relatively narrow as you enter off Little Lonsdale Street; there, they walked down a narrow, pedestrian-friendly path beneath a row of planted trees. After zigzagging east, the group followed the laneway as it continues south towards Lonsdale Street.

3. Williams Street & Lonsdale Street Intersection

The intersection of Williams and Lonsdale Streets initiates Melbourne’s legal precinct. It marks the locations of the Supreme Court of Victoria, Melbourne Magistrates’ Court, and the County Court. The Supreme Court of Victoria is part of a complex known as the Melbourne Law Courts, and is located at 192 William Street. The design for the building was the winning entry for a competition conducted by the Public Works Department. The building design was revealed in 1873 and was built between 1874 and 1882. Here, the group had an opportunity to experience a major downtown intersection at the height of evening rush hour.

4. Little Bourke Street Reserve

The group next traveled to the Little Bourke Street reserve, on the southern side of the Supreme Court.

Through design and careful refiguring of the existing conditions, the Reserve seeks to stitch the site back into the rhythm of laneways and streets that define the site and characterize Melbourne city life.

This comprehensive tower podium redevelopment choreographs a significant public space. It is an interesting example of overpass urban space, inviting the question as to whether public space needs to be only at the ground plane. Rather than just operating on one level, the space seeks to activate and rejuvenate the site across multiple levels and street frontages.
Little Bourke Street Reserve features public space on multiple levels.

5. William Street & Bourke Street Intersection

CBW at the
corner of Bourke and William Streets is one of the largest recent developments in the city of Melbourne. It operates as a key corner marker and instigator in revitalizing this neglected part of the CBD by incorporating two major office towers with an innovative urban retail precinct.

6. Goldsborough Lane

Situated within CBW, Goldsbrough Lane is a dynamic and unique network of cafes, restaurants, retail services, and fashion retailers. The lane was named in 1905 after Richard Goldsbrough, who built the Goldsbrough Mort wool warehouse on the corner of Bourke and William streets in 1862. Goldsbrough was an important figure in the wool trade and industry, and owned several warehouses in the vicinity of Goldsbrough Lane. Although titled a Laneway, the group perceived the area to be similar to an arcade, with a sheltering glass canopy enclosing the popular urban destination.

Goldsborough Lane features plenty of amenities to entice visitors.

7. Guests Lane

The next stop, Guests Lane, is located between King and William streets, extending north from Little Bourke Street to Lonsdale Street. It is directly opposite Goldsbrough Lane on Little Bourke Street.  Guests Lane was created after 1915, although its outline was drawn on a 1915 map. The space that became Guests Lane existed as far back as 1895. On the eastern side of what became Guests Lane was the T.B. Guest & Co. biscuit factory, after whom the lane was named.

8. Merritts Place

Merritts Place is a “class two” cobbled laneway sandwiched between heritage red brick façades and rhythmically placed windows. It leads to a European-style urban square with a charming tree sheltering public seating. Here, the group discussed the introduction of vegetation in discreet areas of the new laneway, building on the City of Melbourne’s “Green Your Laneway” pilot program.

9. Healeys Lane

Healeys Lane is a well activated laneway between Little Lonsdale and Lonsdale Streets lined with Asian street eats and a uniquely shallow flower seller. Here the group was exposed to the variety of opportunities created by the laneway typology.

10. William Street & La Trobe Street Intersection (Flagstaff)

The tour concluded at the intersection of William and La Trobe Streets, near the Federal Court, housing the High Court and Federal Courts, and the junction between Flagstaff Station, Flagstaff gardens (Melbourne’s oldest park established in 1862), and the Federal Court.  Currently this end of La Trobe Street lacks activation as it provides little retail and other amenities that would be expected of a corner adjacent to a station and widely used established city garden.

Healeys Lane features a variety of international restaurants to enliven its programming.
William Street & Latrobe Street Intersection at the conclusion of the tour.
Alex Siekierski Architecture & Real Estate Consultant
Matthew Smith Architectus
Michael Hsu Architectus
Shaun Schroter Architectus
Stacey Epstein Architectus
Tudor Taylor Architectus
Jeffrey Robinson Aurecon
Jonathan Downes Aurecon
Shandip Abeywickrema Aurecon
Ros Rymer City of Melbourne
Rennie Darmanin Meinhardt
Dean Thornton Places Victoria
Joanna Hill Rialto
Orla Kelly Rialto
Rebecca Brennan Rialto
Karl Engstrom Woods Bagot