Architect: Joseph Reed 1873, Lovell Chen 2019
The Trades Hall and Literary Institute, affectionately known as ‘the people’s palace’, has been the home of organised labour in Melbourne for over 160 years. The present complex was constructed over ten stages, between 1874 and 1963, replacing the first temporary Trades Hall building, which had opened on the same site in 1859. It is thought to be the oldest continuously active union building in the world.
The architect, Joseph Reed, was a giant of colonial architecture and was responsible for a number of Melbourne’s other grand buildings – the State Library of Victoria, Melbourne Town Hall and the Royal Exhibition Building. It was reasoned that the parliament of the workers should be at least as grand as Parliament House in Spring Street.
Photos 1–2: Kate Shuttleworth, 3: Eve Wilson