Switchboard Cafe

Switchboard Cafe. Photo: Donna Broun

Switchboard Cafe
11 & 12 Manchester Unity Arcade, 
220 Collins St Map.7cca861
Melbourne, VICTORIA
Monday - Friday 7am - 4pm
Saturday: 9am - 3pm
Tel: n/a

Melbourne CBD is a playground for big people.   
Quirky, funky, fabulous and fun.  
Did you love playing Hide and Seek as a kid?  
Your inner child will  love this place
but first you must find it...  

The fabulous Manchester Unity Building, corner of Swanston and Collins Streets.
Photo: Donna Broun
Treasure Map says:  "At the corner of Swanston and Collins Street, go into the opulent Manchester Unity arcade and towards the back you will find it - opening onto the rear arcade".  
Clue: It used to be the building's switchboard.

The glass fronted hidey-hole is opposite the coffee window (old switchboard)
Photo: Donna Broun

Once you are there... It's all about the coffee - In fact the BEST COFFEE this end of town (Coffee Supreme), delicious snacks  (hands up - who DOESN"T LOVE TOASTIES?), healthy-ish cakes/biscuits and even soup, I have heard, if you are quick enough. 

Quirky chinoiserie decor and old fashioned ambience in the 'hidey-hole'.
Photo: Donna Broun
Bring on more fun if you dare. You can hide away to eat - perhaps in the dark corner of the tiny glass fronted hidey-hole like a child who has stolen "Betty Wellington's"*  biscuits.  Or you can pretend to be someone rich and famous and pose brazenly in the tiny shop window.  But I love to do  'store dummy',  an easy game which involves sitting in the storefront and staring vacuously out the window with a great latte... Most will quickly become adept at this game and will want to play it often. Missed out on a slat bench seat in the hidey-hole? Don't worry darlings, there's more room in the adjacent arcade.

Good things come in tiny packages
Photo: Additional seating in the back arcade
Photo: Lift doors 

Manchester Unity Building foyer now features digital panels alongside the old world opulence.
Photo: Donna Broun
 Manchester Unity Building
The Manchester Unity Building is one of Melbourne's most noteworthy historic buildings.
It was designed by architect Marcus Barlow - see his gold inscribed name prominently displayed in the foyer. It's a rare thing for architects to be prominently and publicly acknowledged. Construction of the neo-gothic skyscraper began in 1932 and it was completed in the same year costing around 250,000 pounds.  The distinctive facade is clad  in terracotta faience tiles with full  height fins for vertical  emphasis and a Bell Tower modelled on the Chicago Tribune tower. The internal walls feature opulent Australian marble.  Recent insertions include digital panels near the lifts - a nod to the future and to advertising. The escalators with elaborate doors were the first in Melbourne. The building is 64m in height (to the roof).  Level 12 once featured a rooftop garden café with mosaic floors, and a pond.  The building is open annually in September for Melbourne Open House and is well worth an early visit to beat the queues.
Website:   www.manchesterunitybuilding.com.au/manchester-unity-building-history.html

Manchester Unity Building - marble clad walls and superb detailing. Photo: Donna Broun

Street view - Corner of Swanston and Collins. (MUB on the left). Photo: Donna Broun

All photos: Donna Broun. Copyright 2012
*Betty Wellington is a fictitious family friend who would mysteriously come to our house when we were children and eat all the biscuits.  It definitely wasn't US. 
Cafe Noir is a midnight blog cafe - and records the architecture + coffee experiences of Muz and Mez around the world.  
Mez is a Melbourne Lawyer and Muz is a  Landscape Architect and Urban Designer.
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