Thursday, July 01, 2004

Angry architects attack public

When I was a boy I spent many happy hours at the St Kilda pier, fishing for mullet and garfish. I'm therefore one of those people who grew to love the distinctive, historic kiosk at the end of the pier.

The bad news is that the kiosk, a St Kilda landmark, burnt down last year. The good news is that Parks Victoria has decided to rebuild it following its original exterior design (but with a modernised interior).

A simple decision? Not according to the Melbourne architectural profession. In an article in yesterday's Age, one "urban design consultant" labelled the decision as "pathetic and tragic" and unsuitable for a "socially progressive" community.

An architectural academic went further and said the decision was a "retreat from the real world" which showed "some sort of serious psychological problem on the part of the people who want to have irrelevant styles".

A letter writer in today's Age has eloquently replied to these architectural modernists. He writes:

How fascinating that a public requiring beauty, simplicity, charm and a sense of history from their city's buildings and structures should be accused of having "some sort of serious psychological problem.

Professor Miles Lewis - no doubt an expert in mental health - should perhaps consider that the right of his profession to use our city as a billboard upon which to promote abstract theories of geometric design to one another does not outweigh the the general population's right to go about their daily existence in a landscape that sustains a sense of local identity, tradition and pride of place.

Well put, and congratulations also to Parks Victoria for standing by local residents and preserving a much loved piece of St Kilda's heritage.

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