Bendigo TAFE: Octagonal Reading Room
Architect: WC Vahland and Getschmann, 1887
In 1863, architects Vahland and Getschmann were commissioned to prepare plans for the Sandhurst Mechanics Institute, which included a new library. As President and a part-time lecturer, Vahland became personally involved with the school’s development and designed all the 19th century buildings on the campus (along with the majority of Bendigo’s most iconic buildings).
Opened in April 1887, the library is a striking, high-walled, octagonal building. An unassuming red-brick building from the outside, it’s a different story once you step inside. A glazed domed skylight supported on eight Corinthian columns makes a grand first impression, and is clever use of natural lighting. The columns are in turn supported by an octagonal balcony gallery and eight Tuscan columns. The library had cost £3,000 to build and equip, and the interior had been extensively decorated by Orto Waschatz.
In the late 1980’s a new library was opened on campus and by 1994 the octagonal library had been repurposed as a hospitality training restaurant for the TAFE, aptly named ‘restaurant 18eightyseven’. However, the upper gallery has remained home to the
TAFE’s library collection.
136 McCrae Street, Bendigo VIC