They are big brand shops that can be found in almost every mall. But, an arcade is timeless with charm and character, with specialties shop that are unique and not one the same that can be easily replicated elsewhere like a piece of mould for populace attraction. An arcade appeals to a niche market who wants something different, who appreciate the style and classical touch of a bygone era, a slowness caught in a time warp without the hectic rush and chaos of the modernity of a shopping mall.
There are 2 arcades in Melbourne that are my all time favourites. A good exemplary of endless class that never age in time. Full of charm and character. Both quite similar in style from the same Victorian period, but one is more polish and stylish than the other. Both arcades are heritage listed and both are within the proximity of each other, like twin siblings connected by the same umbilical cord, with frontage entrances on Collins Street, Elizabeth Street, Bourke Street - the prime shopping retail land in Melbourne's Central Business District.
The shining star of the 2 arcades is passionately known to the Melbournian as "The Block". The facade of the building facing Collins Street is as charming as the inside with polished mosaic tile flooring, glass canopy, amazing archways and larger than human size Bronze statues . A stunning central atrium and an imagery in my mind of a string quartet performing classical music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Schubert.
The older sibling between the two, less polished without the mosaic tile flooring, but no less attractive was the first arcade built in Melbourne in the early 1800 and is the longest standing arcade in Australia. It has amazing wrought iron structure with glass canopy. A fine Victorian designed arcade with French and English influence and two mythical guardians - Gog and Magog - and a giant clock in the centre that chimes by the hour. This is "The Royal Arcade"
Modernity in the 21st century brings a different kind of shopping experience with investors, designers and architects coming up with more creative designs and ideas to attract crowd through the building in the competitive retail shopping industry.
One latest addition to Melbourne's shopping scene is a stylishly named "St Collins Lane". It is not a true laneway that is Melbourne - that is, organically grown. It is a a building with a thoroughfare entrances on both sides of the building - one at Collins Street, the other at Little Collins Street. What makes this place unique is the dazzling sea of floating emerald glass tubes dangling in the thousands from the glass roofed atrium. The glass tubes shimmering in different shades of green. It is quite magical looking up or down at them.
Somehow this modernity of an atrium hall massive in size and volume in comparison with the "Royal Arcade" and "The Block" feels cold, lacking in charm and character, pretentious and superficial at most, is clinical and soul-less. In Chinese fengshui, the open straight entrance on both ends of the building will only let the wealth in and out, and the thousands of glasses above suppressing any potential growth in the business.
Insight Penang blogs about travel and food, sharing with anyone who enjoys traveling to other destinations, taking photographs, meeting people, experiencing new cultures and traditions, enjoying cooking and trying other cuisines.