Monday, 28 January 2008

Architecture in Sydney

The whole "medium density" debate seems to have died a quiet death in the last year or so. After an almighty ruckus about stopping urban sprawl, the blowback against any form of in-fill development seems to have gobsmacked the anti-sprawlers.

Face facts. Do you want to bring up kids in one of these places, or on a block with a bit of a back yard out on the fringe?

Personally, I'll put up with a medium sized house on a reasonable block near the water. I'll just have to put up about $2 million before I get it, but hey, a bloke can have ambitions.

Blocks like the one above are dotted all over Sydney - apart from the newly built bits out on the fringe. They are the legacy from the free and easy planning days of the 1950's and 60's I guess. I lived in a block like this for a couple of years. Actually, it wasn't all that bad. It had nice views towards some water, it had beautiful flow-thru breezes in summer, thus negating the need for air-con, and it was dead quiet. Every wall was double brick, and I never heard a peep out of any of my neighbours in the entire time I lived there.

Of course it had no parking, since it was built before the days when everyone had a car, but that was about the only problem. The kitchen was solidly built and well laid out. The lounge room was large - large enough to be a combined lounge/dining room opening onto a nice balconey. It was a good place for entertaining.

I have looked at a lot of modern apartment since, and none of them have been as good as that old place. The kitchens are flashy, but cheaply built. All the rooms are smaller - you go out to dinner, rather than entertaining people at home. The noise insulation is terrible, and you'd die without air con.

About the only thing they have going for them is underground parking.

You can't build something like this old place these days. The NIMBYS would have your entrails before you could submit the plans to Council. Pity. I've also been into quite a few 1920's style apartments around Double Bay, Edgecliff and Rose Bay, and they are magnificent inside. Huge lounge rooms, big bedrooms, high ceilings, huge windows with great views - everything you want in an apartment really. Nothing like that gets built anymore.

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