This section is from the book "Modern Buildings, Their Planning, Construction And Equipment Vol5", by G. A. T. Middleton. Also available from Amazon: Modern Buildings.
Figs. 208 and 209 illustrate the Melbourne Houses of Parliament now used by the Federal Government. They were designed by Mr. Peter Kerr, F.R.I.B.A., upon simple and noble lines with external porticoes on all sides. There is a main axial entrance to a large vestibule, out of which a long transverse corridor opens to right and left, while the axis is continued through the main hall, having an assembly chamber on one side and council chamber on the other, and then through a loggia to a second transverse corridor, beyond which the axial passage leads to the main library hall, the various subsidiary libraries being approached from this rear corridor. The front and rear corridors are connected by other longitudinal corridors on either side, lighted by internal areas and giving approach to external committee-rooms underneath the colonnades of the side streets. The principal staircases are not found in the entrance vestibule, but are reached from halls which open at the junction of the front corridor with the secondary longitudinal corridors. This corridor arrangement is repeated on the upper floor, where a number of further committee-rooms and libraries are placed, together with the reporters' galleries, the assembly-rooms and council chamber, and a series of refreshment-rooms and billiard-rooms for the members. The Bendigo Law Courts (Fig. 210), situated in the famous Gold City, is a handsome structure, designed in the Department of Public Works, and cost some £38,000.
The difficulties of its planning were to conveniently combine a series of courts and public offices differing widely in purpose, such as Wardens Courts (where cases dealing with the mining laws are tried), an ordinary Police Court, and the Supreme Courts for Visiting Judges, as well as offices for various permanent officials.
A decidedly bad foundation had to be dealt with, the site being along the line of an old alluvial sludge channel, so that a considerable depth of foundation had to be laid in with specially heavy concreting, the walls being of Harcourt granite up to ground-floor level.
A spacious feature has been made of the principal staircase with the great flanking vestibules, the stairs, handsome wrought brass railings, and heavy gateways making a very impressive composition.
The general inside finish is in Keen's cement worked to very smooth finish, and the joinery work has received careful consideration, the Supreme Court being finished in native black wood and with embossed windows bearing the names of famous colonial judges.
The Law Courts, Melbourne (Figs. 211 and 212), occupy a commanding site in the city, and are bounded on three sides by important thoroughfares, the elevations to Lonsdale and Little Bourke Streets being each 300 feet in length.
The structure was designed in the graceful Italian style, and is executed in white freestone with much fine detail in its construction. A lofty dome carried on a circle of columns rises from the centre of a great labyrinth of courts and corridors to command the city.
The building was carried out by the Department of Public Works, and represents a cost of some £350,000, made up as follows -
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The plan is on the courtyard system, with direct axial entrances from all four frontages, of which the main one is continued to serve a great domed building, used as a library, which occupies a large proportion of the yard. The courts are placed at the corners of the site, where they form pavilions, and others flank the transverse axis, near its entrances from the side streets, while corridors provide communication with the numerous offices. Still, the planning of such edifices has advanced since this was built, as will be seen by comparing these plans with those of the Cardiff Law Courts illustrated in Volume IV., particularly with regard to the sanitary conveniences, and to the careful avoidance of cross traffic between judges, juries, bar, witnesses, and prisoners, and to the means by which the last named are brought into and removed from the courts, while the corridors are not any too well lighted.
The plan in Fig. 213, together with its accompanying sketch, show the scheme, now partly carried out, of the National Art Gallery of New South Wales, for which Mr. W. L. Vernon, F.R.I.B.A., the Government architect, is responsible. The building, which is in Sydney, is erected of warm buff freestone, on a trachyte base, and has an imposing appearance, the Ionic portico, recently added and approached by a flight of trachyte steps and leading to the richly coffered vestibule, being very fine. The lighting has been specially arranged to exclude heat and excess of sun, and good ventilation has been produced by a mechanically driven system of fans.