The beautiful stories beyond a building’s façade

Kaylah Joelle Baker

When looking at the heritage value of a building sometimes its façade can be the sole focus but, according to architectural and urban historian, and heritage consultant, Peter Andrew Barrett, this should not be the case.

Speaking on the topic of “heritage beyond the façade” at the Victorian Archives Centre on May 24 as part of Melbourne Design Week, Mr Barrett will be drawing on a few distinct examples around the city where the façade is just one interesting aspect of a building.

Among the sites included in the talk are the iconic National Gallery of Victoria and the authentic 1950s Pellegrini’s Espresso Bar, and the outstanding question of “what gives something value?”, will be posed.

“I have always been interested in how people respond to heritage places and how people respond differently,” Mr Barrett told North West City News.


The focus [of the talk] will be about how we should look at places beyond the façade and how we often overlook other aspects that make the heritage place valuable.


As well as delving into the various ways we can contemplate heritage in the city, through using valuable sensory methods of touch, smell, and sound, Mr Barrett will also explore the importance of preserving stories and memories associated with buildings.

One example he reflects on is how there are hundreds of photos of the State Savings Bank of Victoria’s former Elizabeth St head office, but little narrative on the photographs that can be shared about the iconic building, that can then be passed on to younger generations.

“Stories add to the memory of a place, and there are so many people around that can remember these important buildings, and they would mean more to us if we knew the stories words by Kaylah-Joelle Baker HERITAGE that went with them,” Mr Barrett said.

“Stories add to a sense of place, and we owe it to future generations to write down our memories of the buildings, to help people who are looking at the photos in years to come get a deeper understanding of them.”

Mr Barrett’s talk will be split into three parts, and will explore looking beyond the exterior, the ways to experience a building’s heritage using sensory and other tools, and the importance of sharing the stories that ultimately give the buildings their value.

Heritage beyond the façade is presented by the Public Record Office Victoria and, with spots already filled prior to the Melbourne Design Week’s launch date of May 18, it goes to show the importance of a number of topics on the program.

John Buncle

John Buncle

February 14th, 2024 - Felicity Jack
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