Sunday, 7 May 2017

Melbourne University South Lawn Car Park – purely magical

Affectionately known as the “Mad Max car park”, this is a hidden gem possesses extraordinary features and a magical atmosphere, an amazing site still unknown by many. Silently tucked away beneath the landscape of the university’s garden, the South Lawn Car Park is more than just an ordinary, everyday parking space. This is the first underground car park in Australia, and a paragon of design that successfully integrated functionality and aesthetic value into an unexpected location.  

A pair of formidable looking sculpted figures guarded the inconspicuous entrance devoutly. Forearms lifted and heads slightly bending forward, the two life-sized Atlantes loomed menacingly over any visitors intend to proceed beyond the seemingly unending darkness. Once placed at the entrance of the now demolished Colonial Bank of Australasia, the neoclassical sculptures are remnants of history from the old Victorian era, and now a protected heritage by the National Trust.

The car park is well recognized by its numerous iconic mushroom-like short columns, cleverly designed and constructed by a galaxy of ingenious minds. The parabolic structures produce increased soil capacity giving room to the tree roots extended from above, yet at the same time, serve as a reinforced support for the roof of the car park.

The innovative design created a futuristic setting for the action-packed, Mel Gibson's film “Mad Max”. Myer discovered the place as a perfect and enigmatic venue for its recent black-tie dinner and fashion parade; the all-time favourite reality cooking show Masterchef used it as a backdrop for a dessert challenge.

The South Lawn Car Park is an imaginative space with limitless possibilities and a character impossible to be defined.

Year built: 1972
Location: Melbourne University, Parkville
Designer: Jan van der Molen


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