23 February 2011

121 and 123 Dawson Street, Brunswick West, VIC, Australia

121 and 123 Dawson Street, on the corner with Ferriman Street.

Remember my original post about horrid, soulless boxes around Melbourne?  It's about time that we featured another one of these miserable attempts at medium density housing.  Dawson Street in Brunswick West is home to a couple of adjacent examples, one of which has now fortunately been renovated to bring it kicking and screaming ... well, not into the 21st century, but at least a decade closer to the present than its forlorn neighbour.
Closer view of 123 Dawson Street.

Let's start, however, with 123 Dawson Street, which retains its original exterior.  I cannot fathom who designed this or why they thought anybody would want to live here.  How do you give directions to this place?  "Yeah, you turn onto Dawson Street, then I'm at number 123; just keep an eye out for the ugly orange brick place with no charm whatsoever."  Wherever you go, you're destined to spot eyesores along these lines, and I have to say they are the very low point of architecture.  Even your modern wanky bollocks with windows at funny angles, feature walls that look like they are plastered with mould, and an exterior painted the colour of mushrooms and despair are more appealing than this.

At least in the case of modern wank, somebody has put some effort into the design, however misguided that effort may be.  123 Dawson Street is functional and nothing more.  It's just four walls of the most plain variety with some windows in them.  Forget a proper roof.  Forget eaves.  Forget anything more than the barest essentials - four walls around you and a ceiling above.  Utterly thoughtless design for thoughtless developers who just wanted to throw up a block of flats as quickly as possible, cram in hapless sods, and make off with their money.

Closer view of 121 Dawson Street.

A few years ago, somebody recognised the folly of this design and renovated one of the two blocks - 121 Dawson Street.  Unfortunately, this turned out to be a fairly thoughtless renovation.  The walls were slapped with a new cladding, a bizarre "feature" was whacked around the upstairs middle window (straight from Pissweak Feature World), and ... that's about it.  Worst of all, it was painted the colour of mushrooms and despair!  Seriously, who paints their building so that it is reminiscent of a drizzly English day?  The renovator spent all this money on a renovation, and instead of using a tasteful colour scheme to highlight their work and make the place stand out, they have painted it so that it looks bland and sinks from view and memory immediately.  At least it looks about a decade younger than its neighbour now, so I guess the owner can fleece people for a higher rent on the basis of the most superficial work.  It's the rental equivalent of music companies charging you $30 for the "deluxe edition" of an album that normally retails for $18 but has a whopping one extra track and liner notes from a sufficiently sycophantic journalist or associate.

Rating: Unpleasant (121) / Damnable (123)

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