New exhibition explores an unbuilt Melbourne

SLV Peak Hour, 1970; A vision of future Melbourne by CF Beauvais in 1943Spaceships on rooftops, a hand-shaped building and an ornamental lake with British Isles-shaped islands are among the unrealised plans for Melbourne that feature in a new City Gallery exhibition, A History of the Future: Imagining Melbourne.

Curator Clare Williamson has compiled an exhibition of building plans, underground roads and public art projects proposed by city planners, architects, artists and writers over the last 180 years that would have changed the face of the city and how we engage with it.

The exhibition also features a 14-metre long panoramic wall drawing by artist Lewis Brownlie whose imagined Melbourne’s cityscape brings some of these dreams and schemes to life.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said the exhibition was a timely opportunity to reflect on how different Melbourne might be today as Council plans for the city’s next decade. “As work continues on Future Melbourne 2026, our overarching plan for the city, this exhibition offers an interesting insight into the ambitious visions of previous generations,” said the Lord Mayor.

“It also allows us to reflect on the successful programs, including tree planting along Swanston Street, sustainability initiatives, bicycle lanes and the Postcode 3000 scheme, that have helped make Melbourne the world’s most liveable city for five consecutive years.”

Chair of the Arts and Culture Portfolio Councillor Rohan Leppert said A History of the Futurewas a fascinating compilation of some largely forgotten plans for a Melbourne that never was. “A History of the Future is a wonderful opportunity to see what might have been and reflect on how we can best protect and preserve Melbourne’s heritage and natural environment,” said Councillor Leppert.

“It is hard to fathom that Melbourne may have lost landmarks such as Flinders Street Station and the Royal Exhibition Building – both of which were at risk of being demolished. That is one of the reasons why the City of Melbourne is investing $300,000 to begin a two stage review of built heritage in the Hoddle Grid, the first major review of heritage buildings in the CBD since the 1980s.”

Clare Williamson said the exhibition contains food for thought for anyone interested in Melbourne’s past, present and future. “In recent years, Melbourne has been transformed, not by towering landmarks, dramatic demolitions or elevated walkways, but by subtle adjustments to the fine grain of its urban fabric,” said Clare.

A History of the Future: Imagining Melbourne
City Gallery – Melbourne Town Hall, Swanston Street, Melbourne
Exhibition continues to 12 August 2016
Free admission

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Peak Hour, 1970; A vision of future Melbourne by CF Beauvais in 1943 – courtesy State Library Victoria / City Gallery