No parking / by Mario Mirabile

When I first arrived at the University of Melbourne in 1977, it seemed vast and imposing, a curious mix of everything from beautiful 19th century sandstone to functional late 20th century concrete. I was not much of an architecture connoisseur, but I felt affection for the sandstone, and was bemused that the ugliest building on campus (now thankfully demolished) housed the architecture faculty. However, there was one structure which fascinated me, and curiously enough it was a carpark.

Under the sprawling South Lawn was the aptly named underground carpark, a striking vaulted space designed to accommodate the roots of trees growing above. The iconic structure has been used as a movie set (the police garage in the original Mad Max), a Master Chef dining room and a fashion catwalk. When empty (not an uncommon occurrence in the 70s), it feels eerie and sepulchral, however I haven't seen it empty for years as the University is active pretty much year-round these days. I was therefore quite surprised to find it vacant on a recent visit, and it turns out that the carpark is going re-purposed. My informant couldn't tell me what the new use will be, or when it will happen, but I've made the most of it over the last few weeks while I still can.