In rapid response to recent ‘Occupy Melbourne’ demonstrations, prominent Melbourne architects Godsell & Corrigan have been engaged to reconstruct a relic of the city’s urban past – The Melbourne Wall – in order to contain growing civil unrest in the city’s inner suburbs.
Beginning on Friday 21st October 2011 as a police barricade, riot-squad officers were quickly replaced with temporary mesh fencing and will soon be superseded again by a triple-brick wall of the highest architectural order.
What started as a peaceful demonstration quickly escalated into full-blown conflict as Lord Mayor Robert Doyle instructed riot police to forcibly remove protestors from the city square. Some commentators suspect Mr Doyle of orchestrating the conflict in order to lay the foundations for his vision to reconstruct The Wall.
Speculation of this nature begins in December 2008, when Mr Doyle made a call to arms on Radio 3AW to keep the ‘bogans’ out of Melbourne, saying ‘I don’t want the city to be a bogan magnet’. Many wondered at the time what measures he would take. Now, with mounting pressure to contain an unruly mob, he may have found the perfect reason to build the long-awaited ‘Bogan Wall’.
The first Melbourne Wall, constructed during The Great Depression by WWI veterans, was originally conceived to keep the working class from taking to the more prosperous streets of Melbourne’s south and eastern suburbs. One of the earliest Australian examples of precast concrete construction, it became a template for the design of the Berlin Wall. Though demolished during the post WWII economic boom, remnants of the Melbourne Wall can still be seen along banks of the Yarra River.
The new Wall is planned to contain what many consider to be the most fashionable of Melbourne’s inner-northern suburbs. It will also divide the CBD in half along Queen Street. Melbourne residents are understandably outraged at the prospect of the division. Though a cultural rift has long existed between the north and south sides of the Yarra, until now rivalry amongst the city’s territories has largely been amicable.
For 78 year old Carlton resident Eva Wansky, this will be the third time she has lived in a walled city. Born within the first Melbourne Wall to Jewish-German immigrants, Ms Wansky’s family returned to Berlin in 1958 three years before the construction of the Berlin Wall. ‘I’ve seen the devastating effects of dividing a city and we don’t need it here. Not again. No good can come of this.’ Ms Wansky told The Argus Online.
Architects of the new Melbourne Wall, Godsell & Corrigan are assuring Melbourne residents the new wall will be of the highest architectural quality. According to the architects’ design statement ‘the new Melbourne Wall will be a beautiful instrument of division within the urban landscape. Drawing influence from the masters of German Brick Expressionism, the Wall employs a decorative Flemish Bond to bring texture and life to the greyest corners of Melbourne’.
Construction of the Melbourne Wall is expected to be completed by February 2012.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT WWW.GODSELLANDCORRIGAN.COM/THE-MELBOURNE-WALL/