New page on the Royal Exhibition Building.

Hi all!

We’ve got our first element of our review on the Carlton Gardens and it’s significance to Melbourne’s history, as well as it’s value as a perfect Melbourne wedding photography location. We thought we’d take on the massive Royal Exhibition Building first, with great photos soon to follow.

The Royal Exhibition Building is one Melbourne’s most prominent buildings. In 2004 UNESCO added the Royal Exhibition Building to the World Heritage List. There’s more to the Royal Exhibition Buildings and the Carlton gardens than beautiful architecture and design, the area is also a landmark of Victorian history. A quote from the Department of Planning and Community Development’s website describe the Carlton Gardens and the Royal Exhibition building as “a tangible expression of the country’s pride in its technological and cultural achievements in the latter part of the 19th century.” If that isn’t the most touching endorsement of an Australian landmark, we don’t know what is.

The Royal Exhibition Building was designed by Joseph Reed, notable and influential architect also known for the State Library, Trades Hall and the Melbourne Town Hall, as well as Rippon Lea estate, of which regular readers will know how fond we are. Reed’s designs are a mix of classical Romanesque and French Renaissance styles that are intricate and imaginative.

The foundations were laid for the Royal Exhibition Building in 1879 only a year before it’s completion in time for Melbourne’s first International Exhibition. The building was used again for the next International Exhibition in 1888. International Exhibitions were a chance for countries top display their best art, engineering, design, culture from the local area and the world and attracted big crowds. While International Exhibitions and World Fairs have since gone out of vogue somewhat there were significant to the culture of cities that chose to host these monumental events. Melbourne’s Royal Exhibition Centre is notable for being one of the few remaining of such 19th century exhibition buildings.

Before the Royal Exhibition Building was erected the grounds were predominantly parkland, and the gardens were established in around 1856, based on designs by Edward La Trobe Bateman. The Carlton Gardens now feature some rare and beautiful Victorian natives as well as beautiful examples of Melbourne’s much-loved tree-lined promenades featuring Moreton Bay Figs and English Oaks. The Victorian Heritage Register has a very detailed list of the various significant plants in the Carlton Gardens in their Latin names, which you can find here, but more than knowing which plants it features and their significant the real beauty is in the design of the garden and its features.

The garden as designed to compliment the Royal Exhibition Building has two ornamental lakes created in 1880, the beautiful French Fountain, and the even more elaborate Hochgurtel fountain, which mimics the themes Royal Exhibition Buildings, so complex and brilliant they are worthy of their own paragraph.

The Free Classical style opens itself to a more liberal approach to architectural expression. Many features of the Royal Exhibition Building were added to represent a vision of a unified and motivated Victoria. Most notably the three plaster heads under the dome depicting an Indian, an Indigenous Australian and a Chinese man. It also had “lunette” style windows (circular or semi-circular windows) depicting the facets of a prosperous country; commerce; industry; science and the arts. There are painted panels of “sylphs” which, to simplify a dated and confusing concept, are elemental representations of a human concepts. You can see the sylphs of Truth and Justice on the Museum Victoria website here and here. A discovery of the old paintings underneath layers of new paint inspired the Museum Victoria to reinstate the Royal Exhibition Buildings previous glory and now the interior can be viewed.

All of these elements show-off an optimistic, ambitious Victoria not afraid to embrace it’s prosperity and creativity in order to encourage more. Very Victoria, and  a memento from amazing 19th century Melbourne.

As always, if you’d like our opinion on any Melbourne wedding photography location, you can contact Serendipity Photography through our facebook page.

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