14 March 2011

60 Keilor Road, Essendon North, VIC, Australia

I don't really want to be seen as an architectural luddite, and nobody needs an architectural equivalent of those "rock music died in 1975!" people. There are some examples of older architecture I am by no means fond of, and they will end up on this blog sooner or later. However, so many of the new developments going up around Melbourne are decidedly unappealling, and many of the popular trends do a good job of raising my ire. Today's target is a good example of many silly ideas in small apartment blocks you can find in the inner and middle suburbs.

I honestly just feel like very few people are even trying now. This building has a number of nitpicks that together combine into a more substantial irritation.

Maybe it actually is structurally unsound.
Firstly and most significantly, THE SLANT. It doesn't have a roof as such, but the upper ceiling is on a slight lean. As are some bits on the side. Do they WANT to give the impression of poor structural integrity? Look, don't hint at the slant of a roof; build an actual damn roof rather than yet another flat-topped (or slightly-slanted-topped) building that resembles a shipping container more than it resembles somewhere people would actually want to live. I can think of few more substantial architectural sins than depriving a house of a nice, well-angled roof. At least if you go somewhere like Switzerland, winters tend to dictate a nice sloped roof, regardless of what else you do to the house.

Beyond that? Well, does the number need to be THAT gigantic? You'll never forget where you live, at least. OK, so that's really petty. However, I would like to point out the silliness of the balconies. On the side, where it's extremely difficult to see in, the balconies have railings (or walls) so gigantic that they actually look more like an electrical switchboard locker than somewhere to go chill outside. Meanwhile, up the front, where everybody on a busy road can merrily see in, you have low balcony railings to aid in that voyeuristic quest. Hmm, got that round the wrong way, huh!

I'd be selling up too. They forgot to mention that the building's hideous.
And in general, I find buildings like this to be monumentally unappealling. They're dime-a-dozen boxes with basic paintjobs that lack detail, just templates and bare surfaces slapped together to be functional rather than appealling. Once upon a time, buildings of any decent size were civic statements; now developers can't throw apartment blocks up fast enough, and anything that isn't absolutely necessary to its structural integrity is jettisoned as an "optional extra" rather than constructing a building that will actually age well and possess dignity decades down the track. And then that's compounded by the tokenistic attempts to try to airbrush away its cookie-cutter functionalism by placing a basic necessity at a slightly unusual angle to that it's A BIT different from everywhere else (i.e. giving the flat top a bit of a perplexing slant) or throwing off-cuts at the building instead of taking the effort to dump them (as in the case of the inexplicable poles at 7 Bent Street). You're not fooling anyone. We know you just want people to hurry the fuck up and move in so that you can move on to your next charmless, hastily designed and even more hastily erected money pit of apartments.

And yet it's probably got all the mod-cons inside and is very liveable. At least when you're inside, you don't have to look at it!

Rating: Unpleasant.

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