Capitol Theatre restored

This time in 2019 scored an invite to the reopening of the Capitol Theatre, the coloured prismatic extravaganza created by #WalterAndMarionGriffin in 1924, completely restored and refurbished by @rmituniversity after only being seen by students for ages and then closing completely in 2014. They installed LED lighting which can reproduce the simple original lighting effects, but also do whizz bang things, pretty trippy actually. The white version was very calming by comparison. They also restored the double height upper level foyer, complete with recreated carpet. It’s now able to be used for functions events etc, but I didn’t get to anything else before Covid.

The #plasterwork is just mind blowing – Aaron from @oldmelbourneplaster explained it to me, but I’m still not sure ! The #prisms are all the same, and quite long – I thought they’d just be the front ends held up by timber framing behind, but no, they support each other, with the shortest ones fixed right back into the wall, cantilevering, and the others hanging from them ! Stepping down and out between the columns and beams in clusters. So there’s a lot of plaster (and #horsehair) in there. They’re hollow, with the lighting inside, so it reflects off the one above, as well as through the triangular grill holes on the upper sides. Then there’s the rest of it…. I’m trying to imagine A. #WalterBurleyGriffin or #MarionMahoneyGriffin not only inventing it and drawing it, then B. Explaining it to the builders. (Both the @library_vic and @nationallibraryaus have architectural drawings, and Ive seen them, and they don’t help much….maybe someone could do a 3D animation for me ? 😁) Thanks again @rmituniversity for not only restoring this truly fantastic work of architecture but making sure it’s available for everyone to experience !

One last post on the #CapitolTheatreMelbourne; what we’ve got is great, but we’ve lost good bits too. Originally in 1924 it had a lower stalls level and what’s now the arcade entry was the theatre entry, with this amazing ticket box (which prob went a long time ago), which led to a cave-like curvy lobby, with rounded stairs off to the sides to get to the grand upstairs lobby, where there was also an opening down to the stalls – odd but true. It had a slightly smaller square screen, with an extra row of plaster decoration (and the Baccarat crystal chandeliers now at the @ngvmelbourne). Interesting to compare with the very first #walterandmariongriffin sketch design. Then in the 60s, the original entry and the stalls were sacrificed as a compromise to let the owner build an arcade, which is sort of fair enough, it was very hard then to fill a 2000 seat cinema; #RobinBoyd took an active part in the negotiations. It carried on as a much smaller cinema until the 90s, when I helped save the Capitol a second time when it was proposed to be turned into a giant bookshop, but #heritagevictoria said no, phew ! Sometimes important places sort of save themselves.

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