06 March 2011

786-798 Elizabeth Street (Elizabeth Tower Hotel), Carlton, VIC, Australia

Looks more like a hospital to me.
I don't understand this hotel. One day, we were walking past and noticed exactly how dilapidated it was, and yet we couldn't figure out how it got this way. We both swore that last time we had seen it, it was a perfectly functional inner city hotel. And now it just looks like it's about to fall over, with a load of smashed  windows, graffiti covering the walls and a dingy carpark that seems to be used for storage of ex-hotel materials, such as rolls of carpet and old chairs.  Seriously, how does somewhere like this get so run down so fast? It's in a pretty busy location, so it might not be as easy to break in to and destroy as some of the other places we've covered here, yet it still looks like this. I would say that I'd like to break in and check it out, but it just brings to mind squatters and used syringes.

The old carpark, with bonus chairs.
It can't have been abandoned for long, either. Google Maps street view still shows it looking pretty fresh and clean, and a Google search brings up many results that would suggest this place is still in use. However, further searching lead me to find out that the University of Melbourne has been attempting to lodge an application to demolish the Elizabeth Tower Hotel and replace it with an institute for infection and immunity. To this, I would say go ahead and build something useful, but I'm quite nervous. After the miserable abortion which didn't at all remind me of deciduous trees in winter, I have somewhat lost faith in the architects employed by the university.

No vacancy, except for squatters.
Even when this place was used, they could have tried with the architecture! It's quite hideous, let's be honest. Even when it was a little cleaner and devoid of graffiti, it still looks rather sparse and budget. The spiral staircase with the glass windows probably provides a great view of the city, but from the outside it is just an eyesore. A good lick of paint may have redeemed it slightly, but definitely wouldn't have saved it. I think it was for the best that this hotel was abandoned in the end. Even if the University of Melbourne does fuck the site up with another mouldy building, at least it will have a purpose that is a little better than housing hoards of fat American tourists who hop on northbound trams and ask "are you going to Flinders Street?" Small mercies.

How very welcoming.
Rating: Condemnable

Update; It has come to our attention that the University of Melbourne's application to demolish this building has been approved. Axver has written an entry on this welcome decision - be sure to read it, if just to drive home again how hideous this place is.


  1. I don't quite understand why you're so polarized when it comes to buildings such as this: you seem to be unable to fathom any sort of compromise or middle ground. Yes, the building is dilapidated, but it also contains fantastic and unique design elements which provide a fascinating look at building material use in that era.

    As a historian involved in a field other than architecture, I don't think you're inclined to make any sort of judgement on this. It does have worth, you just don't have the eyes to see it.

  2. Hey, Anonymous, if you can't pay attention to who's written the blog entry, I don't think you're inclined to make any sort of judgement on this. I (Axver) may be a historian, but if you had paid close enough attention to the article to be able to make an informed rebuttal, you would have also noticed that it was written by this blog's other author, Charlotte.

    Also, I find it hilarious that you presume to know what I specialise in as a historian. For all you know, I may be an architectural historian. As it happens, I am not, but your willingness to make assumptions without evidence makes you look silly. And your implication that one must possess architectural qualifications to make comment on a building's aesthetic and practical worth is outright ludicrous.

  3. Well, I've learnt something today. I'm not a budding evolutionary biologist at all, I'm a historian! How exciting. Maybe you should learn to read who's writing before you make judgements on these entries.

    Also, how on earth does being involved in the field of architecture give you any more of a right to comment on a building that anybody else? The building is there for the public to see, so I'm pretty sure anyone who sees it is allowed to make a judgement. Take your head out of your arse. Maybe that'll help you to read better.

    This is NOT a blog written by architects. Most of my entries are based on pure aesthetics, and I personally think this building is an absolute eyesore. In addition to that, this blog is designed to critique, not to provide an in-depth list of the architectural merits of a building. I'm sure the architect could provide me with an extensive and probably horribly dull list of why this building is so fascinating, but believe me, our readers don't want that.

  4. Hey - no need to be rude to the person! It makes a good premise for a blog seem shallow and not credible.

  5. I wouldn't say I'm being rude, just pointing out how flawed and mistaken Anonymous's comment is (Charlotte can speak for herself!). Neither of us mean any particular ill-will towards Anonymous, though I would say that it's pretty gutless for him/her to not even sign a screen name.

    Though to be honest, this kind of ugly architecture deserves rudeness!

  6. This building catches my eye every time I pass. The spiral stair-case is stunning, and that cobalt blue!
    I'll be sorry to see it go.

  7. Hey now, I never said it didn't catch my eye. It certainly does, just for all the wrong reasons.