Saturday, October 10, 2015

now you see it now you don't

Facadism seems to be more prevalent today than in the '80s when the Smith St supermarket skeleton was created. I see that most of City Road Southbank now has two storey interwar brick factory facades (which were originally bland and now without the factory and warehousing spaces behind them to give them meaning are quite pointless, juxtaposed against the 50 storey glass apartment towers; 

it suggests at the architects have no better ideas for their street frontages

Another form of facadism is either the retention of just the front rooms of a house - or after recladding, replacing windows, new raingoods, etc. Or in the case of The Block's winning couple, knock it all down and rebuild a replica facade. Comments from the crowd are predictably mixed.

What is facilitating this? Has heritage regulation, or even the perception of what constitutes heritage transformed to the extent that original fabric and three dimensional spaces are entirely subservient to a shallow appearance. If this is true, then any approximation of the appearance of the historic streetscape should be sufficient. Even the printed vinyl wraparounds on construction hoardings could be adapted to provide the permanent facades of new buildings, replaced periodically to reflect the latest aesthetic styles or fashions in heritage.

The No 1 Coles store in Smith Street was demolished, but apparently the very plain Deco facade will be reconstructed.

With the new works in prefab concrete tilt slab.

At the other end at 130 Smith St, the 1886 William Pitt designed building appeared briefly beneath later cladding, then was also demolished only to be reconstructed in tilt-slab and with a gaping hole at ground level.

Maybe the same approach could be used for putting back the lost facades of Melbourne - Surely Grollo could put up Robbs building for the front few floors of the revamped Rialto forecourt - I recall the arguments at the time about the imperative for space around the tower that the existing building could not be retained. Others have pointed out the cruel irony of building over an area that was the open space trade off for a large skyscraper.

Which brings me back to the Smith St Safeway

I like the way Streetview makes it look like the Colosseum, but surely keeping old buildings is not meant to be like this.

1 comment:

  1. The landscape changes so quickly these days. But I suppose it's a good thing. I mean I would rather have a bunch of amenities and facilities in Fairfield than dilapidated and abandoned buildings!


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