After a successful debut in 2017, the Incinerator Gallery will once again open its doors to the public for guided tours and walk-throughs on Saturday 28, and Sunday, 29 July as part of Open House Melbourne.
Formally known as the Essendon Incinerator, the iconic building was designed by the office of Walter Burley Griffin, and is renowned for its innovative design as well as its solution to shortages of suitable waste lands within Melbourne.
The Incinerator will be part of a lineup of historical and significant landmarks and architectural buildings across Melbourne, joining nearby Lowther Hall in Essendon, Jack’s Magazine in Maribyrnong and the Dream Factory and Footscray Townhall in Footscray.
The Incinerator Gallery is the last remaining Walter Burley Griffin designed incinerator left in Victoria and one of only six left in the country.
The Royal College of Architects named it as among the 30 most important buildings in the state in 2003, and had it listed on the Victorian Heritage Register and on the National Heritage Buildings Register, until the later register was disbanded in 2012.
The City of Essendon commissioned world-renowned architect Walter Burley Griffin and engineering company REICO in 1929 to build a state of the art and world-leading incinerator. They wanted a building to house the furnaces that would burn the city’s waste but not look like an industrial facility.
Griffin’s proposal followed the principles of Prairie School architecture that were developed earlier in his career in Chicago in conjunction with other architects including Frank Lloyd Wright.
His aim, according to the Victorian government, was to create a building that fitted harmoniously into its environment with Griffin stating that “the final test of modernism is the replacement of industrial eyesores”.
The City of Essendon’s new building was lauded for its beauty and effectiveness and used until it was decommissioned in 1942.
Over the decades, it was left to deteriorate until 1984, when the City of Essendon reopened the facility as a community theatre before closing again after a few years due to funding issues.
In 2004, the site reopened as a multi-arts facility in 2004 known as the Incinerator Arts Complex.
The venue was then again renamed the Incinerator Gallery in 2011, and refocused on a new plan to establish it as a premier visual arts destination in Melbourne’s West.