Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Mysteries of the World - Architecture

Sometimes walking in Melbourne, you are confronted by the results of decisions that make no sense. You turn a corner and you see something like this:

You turn another and you see something like this:
It's hard enough to imagine why anyone thought buildings like the tower blocks would ever provide people with housing they'd be happy in, but positioning them so that the one variety is visible, right there, practically beside the other, seems especially baffling. When you walk out those magnificent town hall front doors and see a high-rise monster looming nearby, it's hard not to think that the architect of the high-rise was consciously taunting that other style, product of the stuffy values of the past:

 The pictures above are not of an isolated example of architectural madness, I should point out. Here's another - in a suburb hard by the city's centre, former burghers built this magnificent thing:
It is still surrounded by domestic architecture whose scale and the way it is laid out must give those who live in it the sense of being in a kind of urban village:

But later planners seemed unable to see the beauty of this scale and style of building. Once again they happily constructed towers. In Austerity Britain, David Kynaston quotes the City Architect of Coventry praising the policy of tower block building in 1949, on the grounds that 'people do not seem prepared to devote enough time' to gardens; the local paper went further, stating that people 'do not deserve' gardens. Perhaps similarly haughty attitudes prevailed in the minds of the planners in Melbourne at the time the various councils decided to grace their elegant streets with buildings like the loitering tower shown here:

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