Royal Exhibition Building
Nicholson Street, Carlton 3053.
- Built in 1879-80.
- Designed by Joseph Reed.
- Listed on the Victorian Heritage Register (no. 602823)
- Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Royal Exhibition Building is the only major nineteenth century exhibition building remaining in Australia and one of the few major nineteenth century exhibition buildings to survive worldwide.
The Royal Exhibition Building was constructed for the Great Exhibition of 1880 and was intended to be temporary. In 1901, it was the location of the first sitting of the parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia and therefore can be considered as the Australian nation's birthplace. From 1901 to 1927 the western annexe was used as a temporary State Parliament while the new Commonwealth Parliament occupied the Victorian Houses of Parliament. Since then it has been a popular venue for exhibitions and shows and is still used for this purpose. Needless to say, this building has played a major role in the cultural and political development of Australia.
Architecturally, the Royal Exhibition Buildings are cruciform with the 65 metre high dome, based on the Florence Cathedral, rising above the transept. An unusual and interesting aspect of the interior is the decorated exposed roof trusses throughout the building.
The decorative scheme, hidden under layers of paint, was recovered and restored during a major restoration in the 1990's.