Art & Design
Posted by Dan Kuseta
27. Jun, 2012
Some of the best parts of Melbourne lie above eye level, and are all too easy to miss as we scurry around head down, earphones in. On a recent walking tour I learned to look up and smell the awnings.
Architours is a walking tour company run by three friends and passionate Melbournians – Mark Skiba, Andy Fergus and Esther Sughito. All three are a mix of architects and urban designers who add their two cents on the walks, which are more like a conversation than a formal tour.
While Architours covers architectural ground from Settlement to Modernism, I tagged along on the Art Deco tour. It was a rainy Saturday morning when our group of ten met for pre-tour coffee in Captains of Industry and were handed a pocket-sized guidebook showing the areas we’d be traipsing. The mood was friendly and eager, I felt like I was back in the Scouts.
Over the next two hours I learned more about the buildings that I walk by every day than I had in two decades living in Melbourne. First stop was Mitchell House (cnr Lonsdale and Elizabeth), the gleaming building designed by Harry Norris, who also designed the Majorca Building on Flinders Lane. Did you know the Majorca is painted blue to represent the Mediterranean sea and sky? Neither did I. In Bourke Street Mall we gazed up at the weird, wonderful Egyptian-style murals above David Jones, and a few blocks away learned the Manchester Unity Building used to be called Stewart Dawson’s corner. There was heaps of other handy facts and pit stops, but I don’t want to give it all away.
The Architours were friendly fonts of local knowledge and clearly loved what they were doing. While I would’ve liked a bit more of the human stories behind the buildings, anyone with even a passing interest in flying buttresses or Frank Lloyd Wright will find plenty to like.
For another side of Melbourne, check out Architours rotating list of walks at architours.com.au.
And remember, look up.