Royal Exhibition Building (REB)

Nicholson Street, Carlton Gardens, Carlton

  • 1879-1880 Reed and Barnes
  • 1994-1995 Allom & Associates (restoration)

The Melbourne Exhibition Building as it was known at first (The Royal Exhibition Building in 1980) was constructed for the International Exhibition of 1880. The existing structure with the magnificent dome that was modelled on that of Brunelleschi’s Florence Cathedral and the complementary gardens are all that remains of what was once a complex of temporary structures occupying almost half the Carlton Gardens that stretched almost all the way to Carlton Street.

Apart from the 1880 International Exhibition, the REB also staged the 1888 Centennial Exhibition and since then, it has continued to stage numerous trade exhibitions. The opening of the first Federal Parliament of Australia in 1901 by the Duke of York in the Exhibition Building was an unforgettable event for both the REB and Australia. To help celebrate that event, the building was festooned with over 10,000 electric light globes. After this event the Federal Parliament sat in Victoria’s Parliament House and the State Parliament was moved to REB’s Western Annexe and remained there until 1927.

The EasternAnnexe had housed a ballroom, a war museum and an aquarium. Between the annexes there were temporary buildings for exhibitions, later a velodrome and oval and then army barracks for WWII that were later re-used as a migrant camp as well. In 1956, the Stadium Annexe was constructed for the Melbourne Olympic Games to stage the weightlifting and wrestling events. Other than the trade shows, the main building was also a hospital during the 1919 Influenza Epidemic and hosted high school and university exams until it was restored in the 1990s, replicating the interior colour scheme that was there for the 1901 opening of Federal Parliament. The Carlton Gardens on the north and south of the main building with their tree-lined avenues leading to the REB were designed to complement it and include the feature Hochgurtel Fountain at the southern central entrance.

In 2004 The Royal Exhibition Building was the first building in Australia to be given Word Heritage listing by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, a fitting listing given its iconic landmark status in Melbourne.

Aerial view from the east.
My Real Estate Mate logo

Development & Planning

Friday, October 21, 2016 - 00:00
Following its acquisition of Waterfront City late in 2014, current owners Ashe Morgan have moved to further reinvent and reposition the precinct, which includes Harbour Town and the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel as major drawcards. The first stage of overhaul works which were concentrated on Harbour Town are concluding. These...

Policy, Culture & Opinion

Thursday, October 20, 2016 - 14:30
On Monday 24th of October, the iCities: World Class CBDs series conference kicks off. First held in Kuala Lumpur, this year's conference is to be held at the Langham Hotel on Southbank. iCities is owned and operated by iProperty Group, a network property under the REA Group umbrella brand. Over...


Visual Melbourne

Wednesday, August 31, 2016 - 17:00
Melbourne’s architectural landscape is a wonderful juxtaposition of modern and Victorian architecture. Although the CBD has been peppered with many skyscrapers, its historical structures have won Melbourne the title of “Australia’s most European city”. Perhaps the most striking example of this juxtaposition between old and new is the Coops Shot...

Transport & Design

Thursday, October 20, 2016 - 07:00
108 Leicester Street is a collection of eight multi-level Fitzroy townhouses that have been designed to respond to the changing face of multi-residential living in Melbourne. The hybrid inner-city dwellings combine developer/builder FOURSQ with Melbourne firm BKK Architects. The design acknowledges the housing typologies of the development's Fitzroy neighbourhood with...

Sustainability & Environment

Wednesday, October 5, 2016 - 00:00
The proposed new Melbourne Conservatorium of Music (MCM) on Sturt Street is shaping to become much more than a cutting edge venue. While the project has been given coverage to date across a range of mediums, very little has been said regarding the project playing an integral part in the...